At the NLM Sunrise Seminar this morning, early risers got to see sneak previews of pending design changes for PubMed and MedlinePlus. Here’s ths scoop.

PubMed – David Gillikin, presenter

NLM has been saying for several months now that PubMed’s tabs (Limits, History, etc.) will be going away “soon.” Late summer is the current best estimate.

The wireframe preview we saw had stylish, narrower top banner that should save some vertical screen real estate. Abstract and AbstractPlus will be combined into one view and there will be a “+” below each citation so that users can opt to see other information, such as MeSH and Publication Type. Citation sensor information stays the same, and it displays in the same location in the upper left part of the screen. Tabs are gone, but the “Send To” option is a lot more visible – hooray for that! A column on the right side of the screen (taking up about 25% of screen width) will display Related Articles, Also Try, Recent Activity, etc.

Big news: NLM got an earful from librarians when they suggested the Advanced Search screen as a viable alternative for Single Citation Matcher. NLM listened, and Single Citation Matcher is not going away. It will continue to be linked from the sidebar on the PubMed homepage (the proposed redesign affects only results pages).

The bottom line: the changes that were presented to us today affect only the look, not the functionality, of PubMed.

MedlinePlus – Paula Kittendaugh, presenter

User satisfaction with MedlinePlus is very high – as high as user satisfaction for Amazon and Google, in fact. Unfortunately, it has only about half the number users as WebMD, and really can’t compete in terms of marketing dollars.  That said, NLM is taking some important steps to brand, market, and improve the usability of MedlinePlus.

In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of people who subscribe to a health-related email newsletter. MedlinePlus’s newsletter will get a major facelift, going from plain text and links to a colorful html/css-based format.

The MedlinePlus homepage has fallen victim to some “link creep” over the years with the addition of new and great features. As a result, it’s a little busy. Designers are working to reduce the number of links and make important content easier to find.

A Multimedia section will be created for videos, podcasts, and interactive content. Interactive content is all the rage and will be featured prominently.

I was very happy to hear the speaker acknowledge that NLM is behind the curve when it comes to incorporating social media. She explained that government agencies have unique challenges in this area and often have to arrange special agreements with social media providers (she mentioned YouTube and Facebook). Paula highlighted CDC’s recent successes using social media to communicate about swine flu. She hopes that by this time next year, she’ll have similar successes to report from NLM. That would be so great!

These are just a few of the topics covered at this morning’s NLM Sunrise Seminar. Watch the NLM Technical Bulletin for official details on the design changes. If you are here at the conference, be sure to visit the NLM booth/theater in the exhibit hall. Staff there will be glad to answer your questions and take your feedback.