A Winning Recipe for New Parenting Content: Collaboration + User Testing

Colleen Cronin, Healthwise Medical Writer

An age-old problem

Let’s face it: Sometimes what the patient cares about and what the clinician cares about are not the same thing. That can be frustrating for both sides, especially when the end goal—healthier people—is one that everyone shares.


At Healthwise, we honor differences in values, preferences, and priorities from both the clinician and patient perspectives. We work hard to create content that narrows the space between the two and builds the trust that’s needed for both sides to experience the “system” in a way that aligns with the true end goal.

A collaborative approach

This fall, we tried something new. We developed a two-day workshop focused on new approaches to creating parenting content. We flew in our associate medical director, Dr. John Pope, pediatrician and chief medical officer of Honor Health in Arizona. And we assembled a group of writers, medical content specialists, and artists to brainstorm how to present new content for concerned parents.

First, Dr. Pope plucked three topic titles from a longer list of parenting titles that prior user testing showed us were most likely to be read:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Cell phone and gaming time
  • Resiliency

He chose these three because they’re ones he regularly addresses in his office, when his “clinical pediatrician” role expands to include cheerleader, counselor, and parenting guru.

Then, three-person teams (one writer, one medical content specialist, and one artist) worked collaboratively on one topic, each (literally) wearing different hats to remind themselves of the myriad users on the receiving end of the content. Dr. Pope split his time among the teams, consulting as teams crafted opening paragraphs and specific tips that busy parents could relate to and easily start trying. Describing the process, Dr. Pope said, “We asked people to wear different hats—to assume roles they don’t normally assume—and it brought out the teams’ creativity.”

In less than an hour, teams completed first-draft articles, each with a couple of image choices. And then—boom—we tested those drafts with 10 diverse parents by using our online testing resource. As hoped, the testing affirmed some of what we’d put together and challenged other parts.

What users said

In the content intended for cell phone delivery, one parent from our prior user testing had said, “Lead by example’ is extremely valuable. Parents get upset at their kids and forget that it could be their fault. It’s good to self-reflect.”

And another parent said (in reference to a tip we’d included about having friends who come over leave their cell phones at the door), “If I did that with my son, he’d look at me like I had 16 heads!”

Comments like these made it clear what was working and what wasn’t. On day two, teams easily made changes based on content that was predominantly “liked” versus “disliked.”

We also teased out themes to carry forward in future parenting content.

  • Parents appreciate acknowledgment of the challenges of parenthood. This was evidenced, for example, by the number of likes this line garnered: “Even though you may get pushed away at times, there are ways you can help your child manage conflicts with their peers.”
  • Questions engage parents. Rather than telling parents how much screen time was too much, we asked them “Does your child spend a lot of time gaming on their computer or phone? How much time is too much?” This opener was described as “inviting,” “relatable,” “real,” and “something I think about daily.”
  • Parents don’t want to feel guilty or judged. Several users appreciated being reminded of the positives about their kids’ points of view, as reflected in this line: “Games can give kids a sense of accomplishment, can help them manage stress, and are a way for them to make friends.”
  • A good image matters. Parents crave authenticity but also positive interaction. They bristle at images that might profile or stereotype.

What we learned

Reflecting on the success of the workshop, Dr. Pope said, “I was impressed by how well deconstructing our normal process worked. It was great for team building, and it gave us a different perspective—both internally and externally.”

The workshop proved that we can include more perspectives and feedback, and increase fun and collaboration—without sacrificing efficiency or accuracy. To that end, we will be replicating this process for nine more parenting topics that users and Dr. Pope have reported as “top picks.”