This guide will advise to about central steps to enable you to create a website to allow you to inform a larger audience regionally, nationally, or internationally about self-care – in general or specific to eg. an ailment or a narrow target audience.

A website is not a solution, but a tool – and a tool that will probably still need an active effort for people actually use it. A website can often require more continuous work than a folder – but in of course also instantly adaptable.

If you consider a longer term effort to promote self-care, creating a website should be considered a must to enable users to learn more and find contact information.

1. Content/Structure/Functionality
A website can essentially hold all the information you like. However less can often be more – or at least you should carefully consider the structure and navigation of your site. To begin with describing your information in bullets or by using post-it notes as way to visualise your information and ways to structure it could be a good idea, before writing or designing anything.Research also other, similar sites; How is the information presented? How much? Which functionalities do they offer? Which functionalities (do you think) are absent? What would be a useful domain-name (is it available)?

Good research and preparation can help you clarify your path towards a useful website – but remember also to think hard about what it is you are hoping the site will help you do, for whom, to what extent.

Look at the guidelines on the five minor ailments to see more about self-care acts and consider how a website can support you to promote these here – and read more information about establishing purpose and goals here.

2. Usability
Regardless of your intended target audience you should consider both the relation between your site and their digital literacy – and the information you provide and their health literacy. Both relations should be optimised to increase the usability of the site for your users.

Read more about health literacy here.

3. Design/Budget
How much can you spend on creating a website? Unless you are already an experienced webdesigner remember that this is also an art form; to create good sites. And these services/qualities aren´t free. However if you do have a limited (or non-existent) budget, using some savvy to navigate existing, adaptable templates provided by a webhotel or other online service can help you create very useful websites.The budget for website design can vary extremely depending on your choices of functionalities and level of ambition – so despite the advice above, don’t give up if any initial offers are more than you have – but be realistic and try to find the right solution for you.

At this point you should also consider design/budget in a longer term. How/When will you update your information? If the website are to contain “news” who will create these? Consider your future workflow to ensure your design works outside the short term.

4. Distribution/Presence
Once your site is online – ready for service, then what? How will you make sure anyone – in or outside your target audience – knows of its existence? Will you be handing out folders? Make sure there are links to your site from other relevant sites/communication tools? Inform key professionals via meetings/conferences or?The website can help you reach many, but make sure it is also known by many or it can turn out to be used by few. Therefore creating a website is often more an enabler for you to do more than an excuse for you to relax. But remember you can probably engage others in this work – ngo’s, patient organisations, municipalities – these may be your target audience, but they could also be your partners in promoting your site.

In our catalogue of tools here you can find other self-care sites – perhaps the people behind some of these can share their experiences with you?

5. Effect/Evaluation
Based on your ambition(s) how might you measure the effectiveness of your website? Including how to improve even smaller issues and functionalities. Most webhotels offer statistics that will allow you to see numbers of users over time, to which pages, and where they found your site (e.g. by web search or other, known sites). This is one measure of succes of course – to have many users. But are they using your information as you intended? What might they be looking for – and do you help them find this?

Number of users, newsletter sign-ups, number of appointments/forms filled out – all these can be measures in numbers and should provide you with multiple ways to assess and improve your site. Remember also (if possible) to engage your users to learn how they experience your site – and thus how you can further help them self-care.

Learning more about your site’s performance and usefulness can also help you better understand and improve self-care in other communication settings. Read more about evaluation here.

There are many websites on self care to study – perhaps a rather confusing way to research would be to search self care in any search engine, but it will give you an idea of the many possibliities.

If you are working at a national level the Swedish 1177 can be one example to study, as this combines online information in several languages, call service, etc.