Tradition and renewal

Are Brean About the author

Twenty years after the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association first went online, we are now launching a new logo and new web pages adapted to mobile devices.

Photo: Einar Nilsen

This year, 20 years have passed since the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association first went online in February 1996 (1). We were at the forefront; this happened only a few months after the BMJ had become the world’s first general medical journal on the web (2). The very first search engines made their appearance the same year, and the World Wide Web had been launched five years previously, in 1991 (3). At the time, there were not that many potential readers – in 1995, only 5  % of the population used the Internet on a weekly basis (4). Even without any search engines, however, those few doctors who had Internet access were quick to look up after only two months’ operations the website had around fifty daily users (5).

The rest, as they say, is history. Today, 96  % per cent of the Norwegian population has access to the Internet, and 88  % use it on a daily basis (6). The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association is part of this landscape: approximately 65 000 unique visitors access our web pages each week, generating up to 110 000 weekly page views. The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association is highly visible on the Internet, but with high visibility comes great responsibility. If Norwegian doctors are to continue to use our web pages as avidly as today, they must be offered an up-to-date digital product. On 13 September 2016, the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association will therefore take another and crucial step in its digital development by launching its new web pages and a new logo.

The new logo is a stylised version of the staff of Asclepius, the most prominent symbol of the art and science of medicine. This signals a stronger identity for the journal, while its implications communicate our position and the identity of our owner. The font chosen for the text elements has been specially designed and is meant to signal tradition as well as renewal, just as the journal needs to look both to the past and the future. Starting from issue 17/2016, you will find the same logo on the front page of the paper-based journal.

With our new web pages, we wish to provide an optimal reading experience – on large screens, tablet computers and mobile phones. The latter is especially important. Until now, our online version has not been adapted to mobile phones, despite the fact that 60  % of all Internet traffic in Norway is generated by mobile phones (7), and 92  % of the population in the age group 20 – 39 years access mobile media content every week (8). We have no reason to believe that doctors are different from everybody else in this respect. Our journal therefore needs to provide an attractive reading experience on mobile phones. Starting from today, we think we can do that. Because our new web pages automatically adapt to all types of tablet computers, the iPad version will be discontinued. The use of this solution has gradually decreased among our readership, since more and more people prefer regular web pages on their tablet computers and separate iPad versions of journals in general have become less common.

Ever since 2004, the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association has published parts of its content online first (9). With the introduction of the new web pages, this practice will gradually be expanded to apply to all content. As a reader you will therefore have quicker access to the content, and as an author you will be quicker in reaching your audience. To many doctors, the paper-based publication is the «real» Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association. For this reason, an important point is that the new, modern web platform also provides greater opportunities to develop the paper-based publication on its own premises. The paper-based version is after all widely read and will remain important.

All articles in the journal’s complete digital volumes, a total of more than 25 000 individual articles, have been imported to the new web pages, which include a large number of new functionalities. An upgrade on this scale will inevitably give rise to some teething problems. Even after the launch, there will be a potential for improvement as well as outright errors. Some of them we will find ourselves, but most of them, however, the readers will discover through their daily interaction with the web pages. The editors welcome feedback on major or minor aspects that could function better. Do let us know about any errors that you may discover, preferably in the form of an email to This is the only way in which the quality and reading experience can reach the optimal level that we wish to achieve, and the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association remain a unifying element for all Norwegian doctors (10). «We eagerly await feedback,» Magne Nylenna wrote when the first online version of the journal was launched in 1996 (1). This wish remains the same today.

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