The Hive Health Media website first went live at the end of May in 2010. At the time, my friend Douglas Robb (a personal trainer from Toronto) and I had the idea of creating a website with the goal of health promotion.
Why health promotion? We now live in an age in which not a day goes by without a new story about the world’s burgeoning obesity/diabetes/diabesity rates. It’s a product of the stresses of our modern fast-paced society. Essentially, we’re overfed and under nourished–a phrase which I believe to be first attributed to Dr. Mark Hyman (correct me if I’m wrong). You can probably add the descriptors, under motivated and sedentary to that.
Change… If you subscribe to the ‘canary in the coal mine theory,’ then it’s not a stretch of the imagination to see that the impact of our modern society is having on the obese will continue to affect more than just the most susceptible. The onus is on us not only as individuals to effect this change but collectively as well.
Hive Health Media… Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist, coined the term, “collective consciousness.” It’s a term that reflects our society’s shared beliefs and moral attitude. The ‘Hive Mind’ is a modern-day adaptation of this term. To start with, by now you’ve already been inundated with years of marketing material encouraging you to make poor health choices… We’re here to work together to create the opposite message.
Ideas… One of the essential ideas about this site was to engage people by allowing them to contribute their ideas and information in the form of guest articles. Rather than wanting to simply churn out information, we wanted this site to be inclusive and engage our readers to think about their own health.
I’m sure that it has absolutely nothing to do with guzzling Coca Cola like water or snacking on Baconators© and McRibbs©. Right? In a way, it’s sort of a vicious circle… The more we eat and the more time we spend in sedentary activities like watching TV…
As our collective waistlines bulge and blood pressure soars, Big Pharma sells more cholesterol, diabetes, and anti-hypertensive medication.
In the US, there’s no secret that poor health is big business. There’s a litany of companies that benefit from our poor health–not just the obvious like restaurants, healthcare, Big Pharma, weight loss products, etc… Conversely, can you think of any companies that would benefit in the form of increased revenue by having a fitter, healthier population outside of makers of sports equipment? In Canada, though we do have a publicly funded healthcare system, government doesn’t operate on a for-profit model.
Are we hapless victims caught in this vicious circle with no possibility of escape? No, we’re not. We do have the ability to make choices and to vote in the form of the dollars we spend every waking minute of every day of our lives. We make so many ‘votes’ during the course of a single day that most of us don’t even realize it.
As for our recent site redesign, we had contracted Hesham Zebeida to build our site with the goal of improving our reader’s experience. Towards that goal, our first priority was to make the site faster. From our initial tests, Hesham’s design has not only drastically cut our use of WordPress plugins, but also reduced our site’s load time by a factor of 2.5. That’s 2.5 x faster.
I’ve known Hesham in the blogging world for a while now and was a long time fan of his website design work. On that note, I was thrilled to have the opportunity of hiring him to redesign our sites. His design has far surpassed my original expectations and he’s gone above and beyond in terms of the customizations added and the support that he provided.
When we launched Hive Health Media back in May of 2010, the first iteration of our site was coded by me (We’ve had a few new designs since then). Designing the site myself had the obvious benefits of being free (sort of) as well as allowing me to customize the layout of the site. However, the evolution of WordPress meant that I would have to continue updating the coding to take advantage of these changes.
Our other goal was to improve the navigation of our site. With that goal in mind, we’ve added Google custom search (at the top right) since Google search is far superior to WordPress. As well, we’ve added related post thumbnails at the end of our articles which is coded directly into the theme.
Lastly, we’ve taken steps to improve the readability of our site with improved typography and added the LiveFyre comment system with the goal of improving engagement across Twitter and Facebook.
We’d like to hear your feedback–not only on the new design itself, but on ideas that we could use to improve our site further.