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Be seeing you: ITPvillage.com fails to capture attention

ITPvillage was launched on 10 June as a ‘healthcare education resource developed by Amgen for the support of healthcare professionals, patients and those seeking education and information about ITP’.

Having spend half an hour navigating around the site reviewing both the patient and healthcare professional views, I have to say I’m underwhelmed.

For all its floaty, new-age appearance ITPvillage takes no prisoners in its hunt for the contact details of ITP healthcare professionals. Whilst it does not appear to be possible to register as a patient, every healthcare professional page features a tab at the bottom of the page inviting you to submit your contact details. To what end from the point of view of the healthcare professional I couldn’t quite ascertain, but if being hustled is your thing, then perhaps you’ll enjoy it.

The Post Office promises the opportunity to ‘post questions or comments’, but if you can find out how, be sure to let me know. All I could find was a PDF. Hidden away in the Tour section of the site I did find a sorry little pop up message apologizing for the fact that all the functionality does not currently work.

Perhaps this refers to the missing question and comments function, but perhaps it is just a smoke-screen for the non-availability of functionality that may never be rolled out because it’s too risky (which it isn’t, of course).

Alternatively, how about waiting until everything does work before launching as a courtesy to your users? I note again with some cynicism that Amgen made sure the healthcare professional contact-scraping interface was up and running for the go-live date.

The Market Square turns out to be a press release channel. You can see from the attached how much thought has been given to crafting some punchy, engaging messages for the site launch. I’m really glad they gave us those posting times down to the second, too.

Move on.

There’s nothing here to interest you, folks.

The Cinema currently offers three films. Further mistakes here, as Amgen has chosen to host these on-site rather than on YouTube, which would have opened their videos up to a far wider potential audience.

Pick of the current bunch is the ‘making of’-style ITPvillage.com video that discloses more than it probably intended to in revealing that there appears at one time to have been plans to offer an ‘ITP patient stories’ short which is currently nowhere to be seen. Maybe this will appear at a later date, maybe Amgen got cold feet. Only time will tell.

The Station is offers to tell you more about upcoming events and offers ‘useful links’. There are yet more errors to have to overlook here, unfortunately. The avatar presenter’s introduction is the same whether you’re a patient or a healthcare professional, yet only the healthcare professional version of the page offers a link to a conference calendar where, I’ve little doubt, Amgen representatives will be happy to take down your contact details.

Interestingly, the links are different for the patient and the healthcare professional, although the latter are frankly embarrassing. A paltry four suggestions, one of which is to Wikipedia (thanks! we’d never have considered looking there) hardly instills confidence in the visitor with regards to the authority of the site as an ITP reference hub.

By this point, you’ll be wishing the Station actually could take you somewhere, preferably far, far away from this site. After half an hour here, I was beginning to feel like a prisoner myself, unnerved by the design’s resemblance to Portmerion, and fully expecting Number 2 to step out from behind a colonnade.

Whilst the Cafe avatar stands abashed in front of a rather less than welcoming sign that reads ‘sorry, we’re closed’ it does at least resolve – finally – the mystery as to why you can’t ask questions in the Post Office. If you can be bothered to find out, go and take a look for yourself.

Whether ITP patients and professionals will find anything to appreciate within the site remains to be seen. I found each area of the site equally bland, hosted by avatars of uniformly patronizing, irritatingly earnest, posh-sounding Brits who succeeded in doing little more than annoying me beyond measure.

With probably the most daring thing about ITPvillage being the Librarian avatar’s plunging neckline, visitors are left asking: how is this site advancing the conversation between patients, professionals, and industry representatives interested in the ITP community?

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