What STI info to provide?

After immersing ourselves in other sexual health websites, we pulled together a set of prompts to help us to find out what STI information potential service users actually want/need us to provide.

We drafted information about one STI so that we could apply the same principles to the remaining three.

We spoke to 22 people in clinics and out - here's a snippet of our findings:

Here we asked people to choose the top 5 bits of info they wanted to know. 

In the highest demand was about treatment, with many people stating... "this is all I care about - am I going to be alright?"

Second to treatment was symptoms... "if untreated what happens?"
It was evident that some people knew STIs do not show up in tests straight away, but there was little or no certainty around exact timings (dreaded window periods) with a number of people expressing no interest to know this level of detail at all.

Users were least interested in reading clinical terms, e.g: bacterial or vial, what the name of STIs means and the difference between HIV and AIDS.

We also presented two layout options. It was clear that users wanted to be able to navigate top to bottom and between the four STIs rather than have common information 'up front'.

The consensus was that users want an obvious link on the homepage to a 'info' page where they can navigate between the infections and read through bullet pointed facts and high level summaries rather than read information in long conversational paragraphs or softer sentences.

We were also interested in finding out whether users would see any value in a stamp of approval from a clinician alongside STI info. The majority of users would rather not see a Dr’s face, some felt that this would be patronising or 'strange'. Some older users assumed younger people would find it more reassuring, but younger users disagreed - most assumed all info on the SH:24 site would be approved and written by a clinician anyway. 

Other findings from the conversations were:

For those who knew the bare basics about STIs, their knowledge felt 'just enough' to them. They didn't want to be experts. In most cases people said they’d only ever want to know more if they get a positive result.

When asking people what scares them most about STIs or getting a test, the most common answers were:

  • Accuracy of test, (can I do it right myself?)
  • How long it will take? - waiting for results
  • Infertility - chances?
  • Passing something on to a partner - chances?

Tone of voice

We also attempted to discover what tone would be the most appropriate and feel most approachable. By showing examples and asking for thoughts, reactions and feedback we came up with the following assumptions:

  • Users felt it important to get a good balance of informal, impersonal
    and practical info
  • They agreed that our principles were key (being non-judgmental,
    trustworthy, confidential, supportive but not patronising, positive
    but not trivial)
  • Users preferred not to read sentences like 'we advise' and would
    want to see what the practical steps are (advice was more welcomed
    in the case of a positive result)

We are working with a copywriter to build consistent, accessible and helpful information about each of the infections, according to what users have told us they’d want.