Health Website Analysis: allnurses.com
- 15 context
the web resource allnurses.com is the world’s largest nursing online community, with upwards of 280,000 members and 30,000 users daily. there are 6.4 million monthly page views, 900,000 visits per month, 250,000 nursing discussion topics, and 2.6 million individual postings. the site benefits from a very high growth rate (52.78% of “hits” are new visitors).
just as its name implies, allnurses.com is an international website for “all” nurses: registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, diploma nurses, nurse educators, advanced practice nurses, legal nurse consultants, nursing students and pre-nursing students, inactive nurses, and certified nursing assistants. membership spans 197 countries, with the majority of traffic coming from the united states. other frequent countries of member origin include the phillipines, india, canada, the united kingdom, germany, and australia. access to allnurses.com is free. an optional premium or platinum membership is available at nominal cost and grants members a host of upgraded services.
the website is the “brain child” of brian short, a registered nurse who founded this nursing internet community in 1996. he remains its sole proprietor, although he has received numerous offers to sell over the years. since short is a nurse, he understands the enormous challenges facing healthcare workers in today’s stressful practice environments. the site is financed through advertising revenue, sales of various products, and member contributions (through premium and platinum membership upgrades for modest annual fees).
what is the purpose of the website?
the primary purpose for allnurses.com is support for the members. this website is a true nursing community, through postings on the online bulletin board. a secondary interrelated purpose is education and networking for health care professionals. besides more than 200 discussion forums, there are health links, job listings, nursing articles, a photo gallery, and personal journals. registered members can share ideas while obtaining information on jobs, nursing schools, and other areas of interest.
an indirect purpose is promotion of nursing among the public. the website creates abundant opportunities to educate other non-health care individuals about the professional career of nursing. another indirect purpose is the galvanization of nurses to effect positive change in their practice environments by being informed on important legal and legislative matters and becoming politically active.
this website is not a medical advice or legal advice bulletin board. members are counseled to seek appropriate medical or legal counsel in the terms of service for the site.
who is the audience (or audiences) of this website?
the primary audience, as stated before, are licensed nurses, nursing students, and unlicensed nursing assistive personnel. registered nurses are the largest group of health care professionals in the u.s., with 2.5 million jobs (u.s. department of labor, 2007b). licensed practical nurses, who rank below registered nurses in scope of practice and job responsibilities, comprise another 749,000 u.s. jobs (u.s. department of labor, 2007a). the vast majority of registered nurses are female, with only 5.4% men (chung, 2008). since nursing is an overwhelmingly female profession, the site attracts a largely female following. more and more men are entering the profession, however. men, though fewer in numbers, certainly have an influential presence at allnurses.com, from the owner, to two administrators, to several moderators. there are two forums exclusively dedicated to men in nursing.
secondary audiences are other healthcare professionals or unlicensed personnel such as physicians, medical students, certified medical assistants, respiratory therapists, dental hygienists, radiology and ultrasound technicians, emergency medical technicians, anesthesiology assistants, and physician assistants.
indirect audience includes the general population who may “stumble” upon the site as a result of a google search. an incredible 1.5 million pages from allnurses.com are indexed in google and yahoo. some people with no background in healthcare come seeking information about nursing or medical advice. others who purposefully visit this internet community (some with ulterior motives) include health care administrators, nurse managers, malpractice lawyers, medical writers, media reporters, and spammers.
what types of rhetorical appeals are being used in the website?
the website has an overall logical appeal in mutual sharing of healthcare-related knowledge and expertise among the membership. sometimes the information is anecdotal, othertimes it is more authoritative (with backing from scholarly or evidence-based sources). in the student nursing forums, especially, there are prolific discussions concerning perplexing homework assignments, test or quiz questions, and possible topics for research papers or group projects. a team of experienced moderators oversee all posts for accuracy.
in terms of ethical appeal, short, the owner, has an associate degree in nursing and bedside experience with cardiac and geriatric patients. the majority of the volunteer staff are registered nurses or licensed practical nurses. many administrators and moderators hold impressive credentials, which add to the site’s credibility. one of the administrators, siri, is a certified registered ob-gyn and family nurse practitioner (crnp), a certified legal nurse consultant (lnc), an educator in obstetric cardiac emergencies, and an acls ep and pals instructor. another administrator, nrskarenrn, has 35 years nursing experience, and is central intake manager for a home health agency. yet another administrator, traumarus, is a clinical nurse specialist who specializes in renal medicine. one of the moderators, suzanne4, has a master’s degree in business administration and used to direct a nurse training school in thailand. she is an expert teacher and offers a free nclex-rn review for student members.
close relationships are forged among members. this sense of community gives strong pathetic appeal. it helps meet the innate human need for friendship and belonging, even though the relationships are online. nursing colleagues offer camaraderie and support. members relish the chance to impart their knowledge and experience with other nurses who may be in a situation where they are having issues or concerns and need advice. there is opportunity for networking. the journal area (“blogs”) offers members the opportunity to express their innermost thoughts and feelings through narrative writing.
document design/information architecture
the owner of the site, brian short, is also the designer. the website has an appealing logo (allnurses.com), lowercase sans serif font, of reasonable size (36-point), prominently displayed in the upper left hand corner of each page. the logo has two slight variations: dual color (black and yellow-orange) or plain black. underneath the allnurses.com logo is the tag line (in slightly corroded character outlines) - 'where nurses come together'. the logo is artful, unique, and straightforward, and the tag line reminds viewers at a glance that the heart of allnurses is community. above the logo is the superscript “#1 nursing resource: 30,000 nurses visiting daily” or variants thereof.
the background colors of the webpages are yellow-orange and off white. the website “skin” colors can be changed with a click of the mouse to light blue and off white or to fuschia and off white by a color feature in the far upper right corner. all of these color combinations are pleasant in appearance. this option grants members the opportunity to “personalize” the site to their color preferences. the choice of colors is also helpful for colorblind users. print color varies from dark blue for names of forums and thread titles to standard black for post content. the print is left-justified, with verdana sans serif font for forum and thread titles and times new roman serif font for post content, with standard leading and kerning. sans serif fonts are clearer and easier to read online.
with three or four levels, allnurses.com is a deep website. most resources, however, are logically arrayed and can be easily located with one or two sequential clicks of the mouse. the allnurses home page is free of clutter, not difficult to load, and the text is easy to read with tasteful sans serif and serif fonts. four small graphics adorn the page. there is a toolbar at the top featuring eight directory tabs (“home,” “forums,” “articles,” “specialty,” “students,” “region,” “career,” and “resources”). this helpful toolbar is repeated on each page (the tab correlating to the page is off-white in color). a main header is underneath the toolbar flush left: “allnurses: a nursing community for nurses.” to the far right is an allnurses.com search engine, a site help feature, and a site map hyperlink. the site help dropdown menu includes “frequently asked questions,” “getting started (anu),” “helpful video tutorials,” and “administrative help desk.” the content area on the home page is well organized, with the most important information displayed in an upper middle location. directly under the header there is a “welcome” block, followed by a “critical care nursing contest” block, which sits above four columns. contact and registration information are displayed in the welcome block. the bulk of the content area consists of two central columns with lists of popular discussion thread hyperlinks. to the far left and right, there are narrow columns with advertisements. there is a navigation bar at the bottom of the home page and each page thereafter, which provides key links to the site. copyright information is found at the very bottom in small print, along with a repeat of the header and major hyperlinks. there is a scroll bar, and page length is manageable for the average viewer.
the forum index page follows the home page and is the most frequented area on the website. the flush-left header at the top, under the toolbar, announces “general nursing forums.” this page consists of two main central columns, plus a narrower column on the left, which features several hyperlinked advertisements. this identical left narrow column is found on the home page as well as most pages throughout the website. the most popular forums are tidily classified under the following headers: “general nursing forums,” “allnurses community central,” “nursing scrubs and gear talk,” “nursing career forums,” and “premium member forums.” the index is neatly organized with similar forums classified together.
a click on the “specialty” drop-down tab (fourth from the left) on the toolbar affords three choices: “advanced practice nursing,” “critical care nursing,” and “nursing specialties.” sixty-five forums are grouped under these sub-headings (including “nursing faculty-nursing educators” and “research-nursing,” which i moderate). student forums are accessed with a click on the fifth tab on the toolbar. these 11 forums target specific audiences such as pre-nursing students, pre-licensure nursing students, male nursing students, and graduate-level nursing students. the “region” dropdown tab yields two choices: “united states” or “international nursing.” within these forums, members can discuss and network with other nurses from a specific state or country. discussions may include area hospitals, nursing schools, or any other regional nursing issues.
the “articles” tab (third from the left) is a relatively new feature at allnurses. though not as rigorous in publishing requirements as professional journals, the articles written by members offer perspectives on a wide variety of nursing experiences. the owner is promoting the article section by placing its tab in close proximity to the “home” section and by sponsoring article-writing contests with cash prizes.
to assist new members in acclimating to the site, there are nearly 20 short video tutorials created by the owner and various staff members, including “video introduction to allnurses.com.” additionally, there is the “getting started – allnurses.com university (anu)” forum with numerous helpful threads for site beginners. the terms of service (tos) spells out etiquette and forum rules in easy-to-understand language. a boldened hyperlink for the terms of service is in the navigation bar at the bottom of each page. members with account issues or concerns can also post in the “administrative help desk.” the volunteer staff are quick to respond to any member needs or questions.
the overall tone of allnurses.com is upbeat and welcoming, with a skillful blend of all three rhetorical appeals. a true nursing community, the website is interactive in almost every aspect. it is easily accessible, and each poster has the potential to reach thousands of viewers at the click of a mouse. the fonts, formats, styles, capitalizations, logo, color scheme, and graphics are aesthetically pleasant and consistent throughout. the website has enjoyed phenomenal success due to the owner’s vision and diligent effort. nurses worldwide have benefited professionally since its inception. an outstanding resource, allnurses.com is certain to continue to grow and prosper.
chung, v. (2008). men in nursing. retrieved june 1, 2008, from http://www.minoritynurse.com/feature...08-30-00c.html
u.s. department of labor. (2007a). licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. retrieved june 1, 2008, from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos102.htm
u.s. department of labor. (2007b). registered nurses. retrieved june 1, 2008, from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos083.htmLast edit by Joe V on Jun 23, '08
VickyRN has '16' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds'. From 'Under the shadow of His wings...'; Joined Mar '01; Posts: 12,044; Likes: 6,437.1Jul 10, '08 by Audrey28My life is brighter with Allnurses.com that is for sure! Thanks for keeping me sane while I'm still just a Nursing student -this site reminds me everyday why I want to be nurse and what I need to do to get there... SO YAY! Love this site very much!
~AudreyLast edit by sirI on Jul 14, '08