This summer, Dynamic Chiropractic announced plans for its fourth annual ChiroMaster awards contest. For those new to the awards, the ChiroMaster recognizes the best individual chiropractic sites on the Web.
As in previous contests, this year's ChiroMaster contestants had their sites judged on a variety of criteria: content (specifically, accurate, easy-to-read information for patients about chiropractic); information about the doctor's practice; technical considerations (such as how quickly the home page downloads; ability to navigate the site easily; compatibility with Web browsers (like Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer); valid links; and miscellaneous factors (spelling, grammar, correct contact information, and when the site was last updated, etc.).
Based on these criteria, here are this year's ChiroMaster award winners:
The Chiropractic Village
All the bells and whistles in the world won't make people return to a website if it isn't user-friendly and doesn't contain content the average person can understand and enjoy. That's one of the nice things about The Chiropractic Village, a personal website created by Dr. Gilbert Youdeem. What it may lack in cutting-edge features, it makes up for with a simple, straight-ahead web design that is visually appealing and easy to navigate.
The Chiropractic Village is divided into 12 sections, the highlight of which is its "Frequently Asked Questions" page. The FAQ page contains informative, well-written answers to 12 of the most common questions patients might ask about chiropractic or chiropractors. Combined with the "Can Chiropractic Help Me?" section, these two pages provide information on dozens of conditions to new and prospective patients. For patients concerned about their privacy, The Chiropractic Village includes an online service agreement, which states unequivocally that Dr. Youdeem does not sell or share patient information with any third parties. This is very important in an age where privacy and access to confidential online information is becoming a big concern. This is an interesting site, and worthy of frequent visits.
Macquarie Chiropractic Clinic
The first of several repeat ChiroMaster winners this year, the Macquarie Chiropractic Clinic's website was created by Dr. Donald McDowall of Canberra, Australia. While the graphics on this site are kept to a minimum, the information is displayed to the maximum. Each of the site's 14 sections uses the same basic layout and background color, which is pleasing to the eye and gives it a uniform look and feel. Some people may consider using the same layout boring and unimaginative, but it can be incredibly effective, and in this case, Dr. McDowall's site pulls it off.
In judging sites for the ChiroMaster this year, the website review committee also looked for distinctive features that separate one site from others. Dr. McDowall's site is no exception, as the right-hand side of the site's home page is filled with an enormous spine. Moving your mouse over different segments of the spine shows which conditions are associated with a particular vertebra. Clicking the mouse takes the reader to a printable database of relevant research on the condition(s), usually containing one or more abstracts from peer-reviewed journals. This feature can be particularly useful not only for patients, but other health care practitioners looking for recent articles on chiropractic.
Spine Inline is the brainchild of Drs. Steven Trauben and Erik Ward, who maintain a practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Although it features fewer sections (11) than most of the other ChiroMaster award winners, it deserves an award for its repository of information and crisp layout.
The left-hand side of SpineInline is dominated by a colorful toolbar, with different colors used to distinguish sections and subsections. While the text is a little small, it is still easy enough to read and well-organized. The "Our Office" section contains individual biographies of Drs. Trauben and Ward, as well as a printable map to their office - nothing flashy, but easy-to-read and digest. Other sections ("What is Chiropractic?", "How Will it Help Me?", "Conditions Treated," etc.) provide the reader with a solid background on what chiropractors treat and how they can help individual patients. There's also a small but well-written "Health Tips" section that includes pointers on general health, spinal care, and treating low back and neck injuries.
Spring Street Chiropractic
In his website submission, Spring Street's webmaster, Dr. Allan Sicignano, noted that he spent a good deal of time making sure the site was not only easy, but pleasant, to read. A review of his site shows that he has met those goals with flying colors, blending graphics that download fast with soft background colors and images that are appealing to readers.
As with most chiropractic sites, Spring Street includes sections on the type of education a chiropractor receives, the history of chiropractic from ancient through modern times, and a nice section on pinched nerves and subluxations. The best feature of the site is the Spinal Educator, an interactive learning tool that gives users a chance to understand how the body works and how subluxations in certain parts of the spine can lead to various health disorders. The only drawback to the Spinal Educator is that it isn't listed as prominently as it should be (there's a link to it on the front page of the site only). Aside from that minor issue, the Spring Street site is thoroughly enjoyable and is worth visiting often.
Timothy Faulkner Chiropractic
First-time visitors to Timothy Faulkner Chiropratic - especially those with slow Internet connections - might be put off by the site's introductory page, a megabyte-plus animated image that shows people in various levels of discomfort. Users who wait long enough for that image to finish downloading, however, are in for a real treat once they have the opportunity to visit the rest of Dr. Faulkner's site.
Divided into 10 sections (actually 11, counting the modalities section accessible from the site's home page), Dr. Faulkner's site is informative and user-friendly. A toolbar in the upper right-hand section of the site lets users learn about chiropractic philosophy; symptoms and treatments; and important facts and statistics related to the profession. Recently, the site added an "Insurance" page so that users can have their insurance coverage verified prior to being treated, and an "Online Appointments" page for users who want to make an appointment over the Internet. And for patients who want to learn more about health, Dr. Faulkner's site includes a link to sign up for a free e-mail newsletter.
Total Health Associates
Perhaps the nicest looking site to win a ChiroMaster this year, Total Health Associates' page offers users a choice of HTML and Flash versions. Each of the site's eight sections is color-coded, which adds to its visual appeal and functionality, and they are given simple names to avoid any confusion. The "Health Info" section, for instance, provides just what you'd expect - information on nearly a dozen different conditions that can be treated with chiropractic. Likewise, the "Services" section explains each of the therapies Total Health Associates provides in great detail.
For those of you who have the Flash plug-in, take a few extra minutes and visit that version of the site - you won't be disappointed. It includes some features not seen in the HTML version, including an excellent patient education movie called "Back to Basics."
The Website of Dr. James Edwards
Last year, Dr. Edwards became the first chiropractor to have his personal website win the ChiroMaster award three times. Now, he's the first four-time winner. If there's a better personal chiropractic website than Dr. Edwards', the website committee has yet to see it.
Dr. Edwards' site provides a veritable cornucopia of information for (and about) chiropractic. Not content to sit on his past laurels, Dr. Edwards has expanded his site yet again. In addition to an excellent "Answers to Your Questions" section, jamesedwards.com now includes a link to a video sponsored by the Kansas Chiropractic Association entitled "The Education of a Doctor of Chiropractic." The site also includes links to DocFinder, a national database of doctors, and links to more than 30 health care organizations and publications.
The Website of Dr. Michael A. Haley
Another previous recipient of the ChiroMaster, Dr. Haley's site underwent a recent upgrade in 2001 and is even more impressive than last year's version. Gone is the frame-based version that could have irritated some users (and usually won't register on a search engine). In its place, Dr. Haley has created a site that is cleaner, downloads quite fast, and is very easy to navigate.
MobileChiropractic's 17 sections are organized in a logical, easy-to-understand format. Want to learn more about Dr. Haley? Click on his page. Want to know what a subluxation is, and how chiropractors can treat them? Click on the Subluxation page. Want to hear testimonials from patients? Click the Testimonials page. Other sections describe Dr. Haley's services, techniques, and what patients can expect on their first visit. There's also a "Cyber Coupon" page that offers a free examination and consultation, and an Ask Dr. Haley section for people who have questions about chiropractic.
ChiroMaster 2002 Contest Coming Next Year
Next year's ChiroMaster contest will be held in the summer of 2002. Look for more information on next year's contest in a future issue of Dynamic Chiropractic.