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The ADA Itself

By David Mendosa

Last Update: October 1, 2000

After almost 70 columns about diabetes-related Web sites over the past three and one-half years, I've finally worked up the courage to take on the biggest and best—the Web site of the American Diabetes Association itself.

One problem is that it means reviewing the work of the people who employ me. Another is that if you are reading this column online, you have already found at least a part of the site.

No other…site comes close.

But the American Diabetes Association's Web site is so big that there is probably no one person who knows everything that is here. Even Kathy Lowe, the ADA's director, online services, doesn't know how many pages the site has.

"We have all those journals up," Kathy says. She's talking about the organization's five professional journals and Diabetes Forecast, the magazine for people with diabetes that has the most subscribers. "That's thousands of pages."

Kathy and I agree that the site has well over 10,000 pages. No other diabetes-related Web site comes close.

This huge amount of content keeps drawing visitors in record-setting numbers. Last month 1.3 million user sessions logged almost 16 million hits. These numbers just about double every 12 months, according to Rick Johnston, the ADA's national vice president, program services.

Kathy and Rick say that after the home page, the most popular single page on the site is the Recipe of the Day. I had never noticed it before, but it is part of the site's Nutrition section.

"When we started posting the Recipe of the Day, we started getting huge numbers of email," Kathy says. Essentially all of it was positive. That made them realize that they needed to beef up the nutrition area, which now ranks just below the recipes in number of visitors.

The huge section that is All About Diabetes gets the most visitors as a whole. "Always has been, always will be, but consider that that is a huge number of pages," Kathy says. Nutrition and the Recipe of the Day are parts of the Diabetes Information section.

The part of the site that I personally refer to most often is the section on Clinical Practice Recommendations. Here you can get the official word on the latest standards.

The Resource Guide is another part of the huge Diabetes Information section. It is the best place to start when you are going shopping for supplies.

The best pages, in Rick's view, include the ADA Virtual Grocery and the Youth Zone. These new areas "are among the more innovative areas of the site, because we have continued to raise the bar on our standards for design and interoperability," Rick says. "But everybody has a different opinion."

I admit that I had never heard of either before and found them only by using the site's search tool. This points out some of the site's growth pains.

"The menus on the left have become much too long and the options aren't clear," Rick says. Consequently, the ADA plans to revise the site's overall design to make it much easier to find things.

They also plan to switch to a faster and more dependable server, increase the customization of the site, and add threaded forum discussions, live chats, and auditorium events. Eventually they also plan to offer live help.

All of these changes will make the site bigger and more popular than ever. That's a good thing too, because I would hate to have to bite the hand that feeds me. 

The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.

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