Digital Campaign of the Week: Asthma UK

Cigarettes for the relief of asthma are among the surprising stories and facts revealed in the charity's new timeline

Asthma cigarettes from the Asthma UK timeline
Asthma cigarettes from the Asthma UK timeline
What is it?

A digital timeline charting the history of asthma from 4,000 BC to the present, hosted on Asthma UK's website.

Visitors learn facts such as how in 400BC Hippocrates noted the condition was more likely to occur among anglers, tailors and metal workers; how cold baths were recommended for those with asthma in the 1680s; and how "asthma cigarettes" were on sale until the 1980s.

The timeline was created to help relaunch the charity's online research pages. "It's to engage supporters with our research and to encourage them to donate," says publications manager Hannah Desmond.

Why a timeline?

Because it explains the charity's catalogue of research in a lively and informative way, says Dr Elaine Vickers, the charity's research relations manager.

"We had lots of content sitting doing nothing, which was very complex and wordy," she says. "It was fascinating stuff, but there was so much of it."

Vickers and her colleagues admired the NHS Choices website's interactive timeline explaining the history of the NHS: "We thought we could do something similar to bring our information alive."

How was it put together?

Vickers wrote the timeline's content on the history of asthma, then asked Mark Jackson, the author of Asthma: The Biography to check it for accuracy. The charity commissioned the same web designer who created the NHS Choices timeline to do the work.

Where is it being promoted?

Just on the charity's home page, but there are plans to promote the timeline to supporters using social networking sites such as Facebook.

Third Sector's verdict:

Everyone loves a timeline, and it's a great way to present content that would otherwise appear daunting or dry. Because this one is stuffed full of fascinating facts, it has potential to go viral on social networking sites.

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