Given the existing divide related to Internet skills and types of Internet use, it is safe to assume that a large proportion of the population uses the Internet for health purposes in a partially productive fashion. We suggest that in addition to user characteristics, another factor that inhibits productive Internet use, and thus contributes to the existing gap, is related to the ways in which the technology is configured. The goal of this study was to explore the processes that webmasters and content managers use for constructing and producing, or selecting content, for health websites. Interviews conducted with 23 website builders and managers of websites that represent public and non-public health organizations revealed that they do not plan or conduct activities for content needs elicitation, either in the design stage or on an ongoing basis. Rather, these professionals rely on a “self-embodiment” standard, whereby their and their cohorts’ expectations determine the quality and functionality of the websites’ structure and content. Hence, target groups beyond their social sphere are disregarded, and instead of new opportunities, new cleavages are created. We recommended that government, public and non-public stakeholders work to establish construction standards, to ensure that health websites meet the needs of varied end-user populations.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.