Magazine grabbed the Health.com
URL in 1994; its value was apparent both as adjunct to the magazine's consumer-health business and as a standalone entry into the burgeoning world of online media. For various reasons, the magazine was unable to develop the domain until September 2000. I produced a site that fall and launched it in January 2001.
The site carried a tremendous amount of medical reference, but I worried that this kind of information had become by now ubiquitous on the web. Traffic analysis, too, supported the idea that the audience was increasingly interested in a give-and-take experience -- conversation with each other, and with our experts. So I elected to develop a site that was more about sociability around wellness issues than about top-down information.
There were five departments, all driven by weekly Q&A content submitted by users. We pulled threads from the popular discussion boards into the template of every page (a first, I think, though it's frequently done now). We created email newsletters with personable voices. When we offered reference, we made sure it was visual and entertaining: I produced weekly exercise videos in Flash, for instance, and put up frequent quizzes and a database of recipes.
I was thinking hard about advertisers, too, and worked to invent new kinds of inventory in which they might be interested. The email newsletters were sponsorable, for instance (again, a new idea at the time); I intended for the Flash videos and for all the downloadable charts to be sponsored, as well as the medical reference pages and a section on weight-loss.
In all, Health.com was to be a functional complement to the magazine, not a duplicate -- that is, the site would help users attain lifestyle benchmarks established by Health. The site continues at the original URL, but in a very different format and under a very different magazine, now produced in Birmingham, Ala.