Redesign Smarter: Make Your Next Hospital Website Your Best

You have budget for a redesign, but are you investing in creating the right experiences to drive patient acquisition and service the needs of your site visitors?

A redesign is not just a chance to refresh your website’s appearance. It’s your opportunity to enhance the user experience, streamline content and improve SEO. Watch this video to learn how Owensboro Health used a redesign project to improve their website, meet patient needs, drive organic search traffic and improve their content.

There are many reasons for considering a website redesign. Chief among them: your health system probably has changed significantly since your last launch, and your web presence needs to keep up. Although every organization might have a different motivation for initiating a redesign, every hospital knows the importance of having a design and navigation that works for today’s mobile users and web copy that is benefit–driven and focused on conversion.

Learn how Owensboro Health worked with Geonetric to take its site design in a new, bold direction. Features include unique navigation, card-inspired design elements, and a large-format homepage video that steals the show. During the redesign, Owensboro Health also took a critical look at the site’s content and search engine optimization efforts.


David: Hello and welcome to our webinar, Redesign Smarter, make your next hospital website your best. I’m David Sturtz, Digital Strategy Director here at Geonetric, and your host for today’s webinar.

We know that the web is never finished, and healthcare is a rapidly growing and changing industry. Whether the motivation for your redesign is adapting to the latest technology and design trends or redefining how you present your brand and tell your organization’s story, website overhaul is probably in your future, in your recent past, or both.

Today, we’re going to have a conversation about redesigning websites, and I have a couple of folks with me to help you get a sense of what’s involved and to share some tips and tricks to consider during your next website redesign.

The first of our guests today is Dale Vanover, Marketing Specialist at Owensboro Health. At Owensboro, Dale manages the organization’s digital branding efforts, including managing the website, the social media outlet. Dale has more than fifteen years experience in digital marketing journalism and videography. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in radio and television production, with a minor in advertising from Murray State University.

Welcome, Dale.

Dale: Thanks for having me.

David: I’ve also got Erin Schroeder, Content Strategist here with me. Erin’s an engaging writer. She’s an experienced teacher, and she’s also a talented interviewer, with a decade of recording under her belt. And she has the perfect skill set for being a content strategist. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from St. Ambrose University, Master’s Degree in Professional Journalism from University of Iowa and certifications in teaching and copywriting.

So I’m going to start off and we’re going to have a Q & A today. Just walking through a lot of thoughts behind the process. I’m going to start off with Erin. You work with a lot of clients as they’re going through the redesign process, early and up front. What are some of the things that you see as people are engaging with this process? What are the motivators that are getting them started on a redesign?

Erin: I think a lot of people are really engaged with the redesign process because of the responses and the need for that rising mobile audience. We know that about 62% of U.S. adults actually own smartphones and operate them daily. And about 19% of those adults also use those smartphones as their primary access to the web.

Erin: So we know that there’s a huge growing mobile audience for a lot of our clients. And it’s not just so much about having a mobile website anymore. It’s about having a responsive site that works on different devices. As tablets continue to be more popular, obviously smartphones are becoming more and more popular over the basic phones. People really want to be able to access that information quickly and easily on any device that they’re on at their convenience.

David: Dale, I know at Owensboro Health, a lot of the reason that you came on board was because of the redesign that was already planned. What was it like for you, starting out with that major project ahead of you?

Dale: Well, you know it was exciting for me because I’d been on the sales end of digital for many years. So in my interview process, it was laid up front for me that a big expectation of my candidacy would be to spearhead the project management of the website design. Fortunately for me, my interview process took two months, and so I had plenty of time to do research, because I was new to the healthcare industry. And I tell you, what I found out there was a lot of attention had not been given to a lot of healthcare websites. So I knew, given my creative background, that I had a clean slate to do something really really cool with Owensboro Health.

David: Yeah, it sounds like you saw a big opportunity to really bring a lot of design trends. And I know one of the things that you were considering was moving towards responsive design and embracing that mobile audience. How did the change in technology and that user behavior really create a case for you with your leadership?

Dale: Well it was a necessity. With my sales background, with selling digital, I had a good spiel about how good mobile was. Everything was going to mobile. And when you ask someone could they tell you the last time that they had their mobile device five feet away from them, they kind of laugh because they realize that they’re connected to their phones.

So no, what we did for leadership is presenting our plan for the redesign would actually take our analytics from 2014 and actually show them that 43% of the traffic to the site in 2014 was actually from a mobile device. And when you show them that our users were having to stretch and pinch and really kind of maneuver the web page instead of it being responsive, it got their attention rather quickly.

David: Yeah, having that data to back up some of those feelings that you have about why you need to redesign can be really helpful. It can really help to set those goals overall as well. And Erin, what are some of the things that you see early on as far as goal setting that may be lead to a more successful project and make sure they feel they’ll come out on the other end with what they wanted?

Erin: Yeah, I think that Dale hit it on the head. A lot of it is having conversations early with some of those leaders in your organization and those primary stakeholders and setting expectations. A redesign in a marketing plan makes a lot of sense to people who work on that team or work on the web daily. I think for stakeholders, or people who are more disconnected from that piece of the organization, they don’t really know what that entails and what that redesign means and where it could go in the future. And so having those discussions with stakeholders is a huge huge step in the right direction.

But also thinking about your internal team and making sure…and we’ll talk about this later…talking about identifying resources on your team, making sure you’ve asked about important questions and answered important questions that you can answer, that your stakeholders can answer, so you all have a pretty good understanding about what the project is going to do and how fast it’s going to go and the scope and etc.

So thinking about some of those questions, these are some questions that on the implementation team, we really like to ask people. To start thinking about early in the project. To start thinking about, “Who is going to be responsible for executing that project.” and “What are you really trying to accomplish with the redesign? Where are you going to get those tasks and approval? Why do you want to do a redesign at all? And how are going to define the success of this project?”

Erin: So those are kind of that who, what, when, where, why, how is a really great way to think about setting some of those goals and answering some of those really important questions that’ll help define the foundation of the project.

David: Back to your journalism skills there.

Erin: Yes.

David: You have a nice way of summing all this up here with having that core strategy. Walk through what that looks like?

Erin: Sure. So this is actually…we use this a lot in content strategy…and this is from Brain Traffic, which is a great organization that does a lot of content strategy work. But I think there’s a lot of pieces to this that work well in talking about a redesign project. You have substance and structure, so you’re thinking about…you’re CMS is substance, your content is structure and substance. The things that can really be defined by a physical object.

Erin: But on the other side, you have to think about your team and that workflow and the governance and who owns the different pieces of the responsibilities and how are those things going to get accomplished and what are those deadlines? Those aren’t really quite as tangible as the CMS itself or the content or the words on the page.

So those things really have to come together to make sure that the team understands there’s individuals involved, understand what the process is and how we can make it as seamless as possible.

David: The good stage of a process…a lot of organizations are realizing that maybe they don’t have access to all of the resources that they need, whether that’s technical, whether that’s more strategic, or consulting thought process and they start looking for a partner. And so we just wanted to briefly touch on what’s involved in finding a partner and what do you see…Erin, you’re often involved with…again folks early in this stage who have just selected partners. What was motivating them to do that?

Erin: I think a lot of people are looking for partners that have other resources available. So obviously with Geonetric, one of our big differentiators from others is that we are healthcare specific. So you’re getting a group of people that knows healthcare inside and out, we know what the latest trends are.

But aside from that even outside vendors that you work with, thinking about, “Are they a good cultural fit for your organization.” “Does the vendor offer other digital services?” “Can you get more than one thing under one roof?”

We know that the love of the big box stores is because everything is so convenient. It can kind of work that way with vendors too. If you can find people that can offer services that you need to help you to achieve your redesign goal, it really takes a lot of pressure off your back.

And also thinking about, “How has the vendor worked with other clients like us?” So we like to encourage potential clients to go out and call vendor portfolio clients to find our their expectations and look at their experiences and ask follow up questions. But I think for a lot of folks who are partnering and I know working on implementation and folks working with Geonetric, they’re coming to us because there’s other specialties we can offer them.

So we can help them with migration. And we can do content strategy. And if they purchase content writing, we can do development for them as well. So I think…thinking about some of those really high level needs. What does your internal team have that you can support? And what doesn’t it have that your vendor can help support?

David: Absolutely. Dale, along those lines, I know throughout this process there’s a real collaborative work style that you went through with the team. We’ve got some clients that really prefer the big reveal and others that really like more of that collaboration. What did that look like for you and how do you think that impacted the project?

Dale: Our biggest champion here, I would say, is our director Barbara Taylor. She, being new to the department, she really helped me understand the approval process throughout the organization. And so with her guidance, we started from managers and directors and then went all the way up to administration.

And what I mean by that is, we held three stakeholder calls with high level directors throughout the organization and then from there, we sent out over one hundred surveys to the rest of the managers and directors in the organization. And then with Erin’s help and Geonetric, we condensed all of that information down to what our organization as a whole was looking for in a new website.

And it basically boiled down to cleaner content and better navigation and we took that information in turn and presented it to the organization administration team and said, “We have talked to over 80 people or heard feedback from over 80 people and this is what they’re saying that they want in a web design or redesign.” And we presented what we had and went from there.

David: Yeah, I think that process is gathering that information from the stakeholders and really engaging people early on. And I think we see that working in two ways. One, you get the information you need to set those goals, set the priority for the project. But you’re also starting to get people on board.

Erin: Absolutely. You’re starting conversations and that’s a huge piece of this. And sometimes you’re starting conversations with folks in your organization that maybe you’ve never talked to before. So it’s a really great way not only to build relationships with people inside your organization, but obviously to get a lot of support from people for the redesign. And get them kind of jazzed about the redesign too. Because the reveal is always a great part of this and we’ll talk about that later as well.

David: Yeah, thinking about these people you are getting support from internally. Your team, Erin, has a phrase, “Knowing your heroes.” What does that mean and how does that fit into this process?

Erin: It’s a little bit of both and we like to call them heroes because I think project doesn’t work without people doing the project, of course. So part of that is your stakeholders. Identifying who those people are. Who are those top level approvers that really need to sign off and give their okay on phases of the website? And whether that be content, or design, or other major milestones.

But it’s also identifying your internal crew. Finding that tribe of people who’s going to rally around you and help you get to where you need to go. So thinking about what roles you have available at your disposal. Whether you work next to them or whether they work down the hall. Do you content writers on staff? Or do have web designers? Folks who know HTML and coding? Do you have website coordinators or social media specialists who help do social media and sharing.

So thinking about some of those folks who can really be an asset on the website. The web is a very pinpointed specialty, so you want to make sure you have the right people in your corner.

David: Well, I think you talked as well about making sure you’ve got enough time. You make you have all the people there, but if they’re doing other things.

Erin: Yeah, right. Yeah, obviously. And Dale can speak to this too from this end. He was a one-man band, really going forward with this project for Owensboro Health. But you really want to think about how much time could be dedicated. When you’re putting that team together, if someone’s only there ten percent of the time, how much value are they really going to bring to the project, especially when times get tough and deadlines have to be met and things are moving very fast.

So thinking about, especially with content, that seems to be the biggest hurdle for a lot of clients is, “Who’s going to help migrate and improve that content?” “We need that content written. Do we have someone identified who can do that?” And aside from that going back to that vendor partnership, can the vendor provide those resources if you cannot? So if you have a social media person that can help start anteing up a prelaunch promotion, how much time can they really devote to that?

So identifying those resources early is helpful, of course. Things pop up during the project and you can account for those people’s absence if needed, but I think really understanding who you have to work with is a really big piece of making sure that this project is successful.

David: Dale, what did that look like for you? Who were your heroes internally. I know like Erin mentioned, you were driving a large part of this project yourself. Where else were you getting help from?

Dale: Really my Geonetric team. They helped a lot. But at the same time too, at the back end, support from our director and my direct manager, and then also too, our President and CEO. He was very hands on. He was very interested in knowing what we had available and where we were going with the site and willing to listen. And then beyond that too, the entire leadership team.

Once you get buy-in from your administration team to present to managers and directors, get them jacked about something that they had input on, really the whole organization as a whole came together to support it. On very many levels. Beyond the stakeholder’s calls.

David: Yeah, it sounds like you were able to get a lot of good support going on and really move things forward because of that. And you were kind of digging into the process, Dale. Did you do anything to get your internal team up to speed or get yourself up to speed with the process, with the content processes or the systems?

Dale: It goes back to having a really good strong relationship or building a good strong relationship with my account manager at Geonetric Ashley. And the redesign team, Penny, who was the project manager on there. They really laid out the groundwork for me to understand how the process was going to be and gave me the direction I needed to clearly give that information on to my managers and supervisors.

So everyone at any time, when they had a question on where we were with the redesign, I was able to answer that question. So a big thing in our organization is to have the answers when the questions are asked. With the project management team for the redesign, I had those answers.

David: Yeah, absolutely. Being able to answer those questions, internally I know, can help really boost the confidence in the project that things really are on track. This is reality. This is actually happening. Great.

Erin, you talked to me before about getting people up to speed. I know a piece of what your team does is really training. Even folks that have been…are not, maybe, doing a re-platforming as part of a redesign, getting them up to speed on the content management system that they’re using, on just the whole process that people will be going through. Where do you see some of the learning curves happening?

Erin: I think…well we’ll start with the first one, which is going to a new platform. Obviously your big constraint is going to be training and learning that platform. And that’s where, if you’re working with a vendor that offers a platform, or if the vendor’s software that you’re certain to use, partnering with them is really important. And that can be a great conversation. As well you need to learn all the ins and outs from the folks who developed it, which is a huge piece of the success too.

But I think a lot of it too has to deal with…if you have three people on your team that’s heads down on the redesign, making sure that you’re all aligning your roles and responsibilities and you understand who’s responsible for what. And Dale just mentioned that it’s really helpful to have answers to questions when they come up. And I think identifying those responsibilities is really important as well.

If you’re new to an organization think about familiarizing yourself with new style guides or branding initiatives. Making sure that you’re familiar and comfortable with the organization so that you can accurately represent it to the vendor as you’re working through the project.

And then last, of course, making sure that you have an approval process in place. If there’s people that you know need to have a sign-off on the launch or on the design itself or on content, making sure that you have those people in place. Hopefully now no big vacations or leaves of absences are in the way of that. But making sure that they’re there so that you can get that process started and keep that ball rolling in the right direction.

David: The impulse, I think at this stage, you got the team in place, let’s start running and just start doing stuff. And you brought along this chart here that lays out all the pieces. Can you talk to us about…

Erin: Sure.

David: …what is this telling us?

Erin: It’s a little overwhelming, but this is what we call on our implementation team our bubble chart. And this is a very, very high level view of some of those milestone processes that take place during a redesign project or an implementation project. So we start with a lot of discovery. We really get to know the client. Try to find out. Make sure we understand what some of those high level needs are for the phase one of the launch, which we’ll talk about shortly.

Talking about functionality, talking about, in this case, the provider imports, what they want their directories to look like. And then moving into content strategy, which is my bread and butter. Talking to stakeholders, looking at the content, auditing. Do we have a lot of fat we can trim? Talking about writing for the web and creating a navigation that works really well for those target users.

And that always, of course, moves into design and development. So that’s the fun part. Everyone loves seeing the new design, making it look really nice. But that’s where we start building those responsive templates. Making sure and doing a lot of testing. A lot of testing to make sure that those templates work on all devices.

And then toward the end of the project, we’re really going toward launch. So thinking about how you want to roll that out, internally and externally. And bring a lot of traffic into that new, beautiful website that you’ve created.

David: Rather than jumping right in…sorry to move things around and rewrite, really starting at that beginning part with some research. What are some of the areas that you see, that people need to focus on when they’re researching? How can they do that?

Erin: I think, for us, I know on our side a lot of it is stakeholders. They’ll give you this access to some of those folks in your organization who can help us. Also, there’s things that we can do and that the clients can do on their end. So on the screen right now, we have a couple of examples.

Dale, I think you probably remember this. We did some heat mapping on Owensboro Health’s previous website to see where people were going. So we had a lot of different navigation elements. Some that we weren’t sure how really they were working. And so the heat mapping really gave us an opportunity to say, “Wow. A lot of people are using site search.”

So it just gives us a few assumptions that we can make to improve that navigation. And likewise, Michigan Health, who also went through a redesign recently they actually put a survey on their site. They wanted to find out from the users themselves, what is their experience like with their website.

And that helps give us and them a little bit more insight into what’s working and what’s not so we can start making some changes for the better.

Dave: Sure. Dale, you mentioned your analytics helping to drive that decision to move responses. Were their other things that your web analytics and some of the usability testing helped to figure out for you as far as navigation or other aspects of your redesign?

Dale: I loved, loved, loved the heat mapping. It was just such a cool thing to see what people were actually using beyond Google Analytics and how they were interacting with the web page. But really it was going by Google Analytics, using the heat mapping and then also to the content recommendation from Erin and her team on what we should move forward with.

We wanted to make it user friendly. And we wanted, as part of the design, have icons. And so I questioned up front, “What are people coming to this website to do? What are they wanting to accomplish when they come. And we keyed in on six factors that kept repeating over and over and over.

People were coming to look at baby pictures. They were coming to find a job. They were wanting to get on My Chart. So I wanted to make that up front where people did not have to look for those things and put it in a visualization that they see on their mobile phones and get them used to things that they’re seeing in other places. Really the Google Analytics, the heat mapping and then the suggestions from Erin and her team on what that [inaudible 00:21:39] navigation should look like.

David: Now it all really ties together to see what people are trying to do and matching it up there. I know, Erin, we talk a lot of times about the content being a huge struggle within a web project. What are some of the big things from a content perspective that you think are…some of those early decisions that really drive the overall scope.

Erin: Yeah. That’s a really great question. So your web content is really your library. And like libraries, some of those books can get a little dusty. You have collections of information, some of which you’ve maybe had for years and years, and you really want to take a good hard look at that as you start piecing your site together.

Thinking about, what sections of content haven’t been touched in a while? And sometimes you can just look at the page and know it. Sometimes there’s a time stamp and it will tell you right away when it was last updated. But sometimes it’s just a matter of saying, “Well, I know that we don’t offer this anymore.”

So thinking about auditing your content for what we call rot. Which is a very gross term, but it’s meant to be. You really want to think about content that’s redundant. One of the great things about moving to a new platform is you do get to do some spring cleaning and move out some of that old stuff.

But what’s great about the web is that there’s so many opportunities to cross-link content. So you don’t really have to worry about creating the same content in one or two places when you can cross-link it and tell the same story.

Also looking for content that’s outdated. Making sure that you don’t have things that have been sitting there. Maybe you’ve had a new hospital that was built four or five years ago. It might be time to take down some of those updates on the construction. Probably not as necessary today. And that really cleans out some of that inventory as well. It gives Google more to look at in the fresher content that you’ve created.

And then last would be trivial. So making sure that all the content on your site has meaning and purpose. Especially with your target audience. If it doesn’t have a purpose, it doesn’t really need to live on your site. So making sure that you’re always keeping your target audiences in mind, whether that be patients or donors or visitors and families, whomever you’re trying to target your site to, make sure that all that content has a very solid purpose.

And one of the interesting things that we’ve found too with some Pew Research Center studies is that clinicians are actually a great central resource for information and support. And we find that a lot of users actually don’t use the web to answer all their questions about their health problems. They actually take that conversation mostly offline and talk to their healthcare provider to really dig down and learn more about their condition, about treatment or at home care.

So while you really think your website should answer every possible question your patients have, it really doesn’t have to. And a lot of that content doesn’t get clicked on as often as you’d think.

So making sure that that content really is a gateway to your organization and the quality of care you offer rather than try and answer every question they could possibly have.

David: Yeah. You’re going through that process, you’re identifying rot and trying to trim things down. Where do you end up with that? How do you communicate that back? What is that?

Erin: What that ends up coming into is what we call at Geonetric a content matrix. And it’s kind of also known as a detailed site map. There’s a lot of different terms for it. So the matrix is really just a fantastic document. It takes the pages of your content inventory, so all the pages of your current site, sorted into a new navigation with parent-child relationships.

So where you might have had six or seven pages under heart, maybe that content matrix now recommends three or four that are more targeted and more aptly identified or aptly labelled so they’re easier to navigate and find for users.

And they also come with recommendations to improve and streamline that content. So how can you make that a little bit better. And that’s what’s really great. This document can give you a lot of insight. And it’s really your blueprint to creating that site map and building those pages in your CMS. But we really like to use this, and I know Dale, this was a really big piece of your project as well. And when you work with a content writer a content development matrix can really be their backbone to what they’re doing and what they’re creating.

David: It becomes a project plan, almost, for the content part of the effort. Dale, I think you described it to me as…the content part of your project as cutting the fat. What did that mean to you? Why was that important?

Dale: Sure. I tell you. Our old website…rotting describes it perfectly in the sense that we had built a new hospital in 2013, and if you went to the old website, it was dedicated, a shrine to the new hospital. Two years later, we were still using the word new on everything with the hospital.

But also too, they were in a culture where every service line thought that they needed a microsite or a landing page. So you had all of these pages with links that would go to a page with one paragraph on them. So it made no sense to me as to why we had all these little separate landing pages.

So really what I envisioned was getting rid of this wasteland, if you will, and really making this a health system website. And you had to have some tender conversations with people when you tell them that they’re not going to have a landing page anymore, but they’re going to have a section dedicated to their service line, and it’s only going to be two pages.

Because all of those fifteen pages that they had with one paragraph on them could now sit on two. So that’s what I mean by trimming the fat. We had a lot of stuff. Users would get turned around and linking to so many different places, it really wasn’t functional for someone, especially if it wasn’t mobile optimized or responsive, you’d get lost on our site very quickly.

David: Yeah. After having had some of those tender conversations and made it out the other side, did you see…was that successful? Did you feel any kind of backlash after the site launch? I know that’s probably a concern for people going into this process.

Dale: Actually not at all. It actually opened the door to larger conversations in saying, “Okay. What we have found is this content’s really out of date, we don’t offer a lot of these services anymore, that doctor doesn’t work here anymore, that phone number doesn’t work anymore this is not our address.” And so we were able to actually expand our services with Geonetric and talk to them about writing and updating our content for our major service line.

And from there, we did an initial kick-off. It was so successful; we extended it. And that was so successful that we are actually getting two more contracts for two more of our larger locations as we can continue to grow.

I told someone last week that just because pediatric now offers walk-in hours, it doesn’t get its own page. We’re going to incorporate that on the landing page for pediatrics. So yeah.

David: Absolutely. The ongoing process of keeping that contained. We typically are using content that I think, to drive a lot of structure within the site, and that’s where we start moving into…once we’ve got some of that structure, we start thinking about design.

And Dale, you were really thinking about this, it sounds like even before you were hired, so the job you started thinking about the design approach you might take for the new site. What were some things you discovered in your research?

Dale: Well, really there wasn’t…to me it was health care websites weren’t cool, they weren’t sexy. There was nothing that…they actually looked really old and outdated. And so, even looking at…we have four major health systems within our tri-state area, and looking all of the websites, it looks like someone’s nephew had done them on WordPress.

And so really I was able to get my head around what is cool and new by actually going to the symposium that Geonetric holds, and they talk about all the new designs and trends out there. The video header. Getting rid of 3D buttons and it’s now flat panels. And really just taking all those different elements and saying, “Hey, I want something that the other guys aren’t using and really pushing the envelope to see what was available to us.”

And then as you’ve mentioned, brand compass. using our brand compass to mask those really cool, edgier designs and say, “Okay, this is what Owensboro Health looks like now.”

David: Yeah, definitely. Taking all those trends and really owning them. Making them fit with that brand, that key piece of that. And overall, we always say that the design process is just so subjective. I know, the first comp you got back in this process, maybe didn’t quite hit the mark.

Dale: No, it didn’t.

David: I think that’s an important thing for people to hear is that you’re not going to get it right the first time. What did the process look like for you in responding to that and getting it to a place that you fell in love with it?

Dale: You know? That was a tender conversation too, because I got the design back and I wasn’t wowed. And in my head, I was thinking, “Okay, this likes we’re selling insurance.” And I felt a little relieved when I presented it to my manager and director because they didn’t say, “insurance,” but they felt me, it didn’t “wow” them.

So I hated to go back and tell the designers, “Okay, this isn’t gonna work.” But at the same time too, communication to me is key. And so I was able to literally have a sit down conversation on the phone saying, “Okay, this kinda isn’t where we want to go.” And we hashed out every element on that design that he had sent.

And the next thing that I know he was sending back a design that just wowed us. So really just communicating exactly what I had in my head, it’s a scary place to be sometimes, but they’re not in there. They don’t see what I see. And so, what I’ll say about Brian is that he really really listened and really delivered on the design we were going for.

David: Yeah. I think it comes back to knowing that team and knowing that everybody can’t be inside your head at all times, right?

Dale: Exactly.

David: And have that conversation.

So you had some early stakeholder involvement and a lot of buy-in off the bat. As you were getting that design back, the design comps, what did that process look like? Was that something you were taking back to your leadership team and continuing to get buy-in on?

Dale: Well we only had two. We had the original that didn’t fly past my director or manager. And then we got the second one, and we’re like, “Okay. This is it.” And so we played around with it and kind of changed this panel, that panel. Getting the video header into place was just phenomenal and was a game changer.

But we faced an uphill battle with that too, because we were a little outside the box with having a blue background instead of colors. And, “Why is it blue?” Well, that’s because that’s our brand. You know? So we were able to have those answers to those questions and things. But it really came together and we had an explanation of why we chose what we chose when we presented it and it was very, very well received.

David: Yeah. It sounds like you really made a case for each and every design element needing to be there and having reasons behind that. Yeah, go ahead.

Dale: From the color at the very top all the way down to the very bottom, we discussed, and I let them know why we chose that. Those were our brand colors. You’ll see it throughout the entire site. All the way down to our footer. Our logo says Owensboro Health. This is our health system’s website. It’s not about the hospital anymore. It’s about our entire organization.

David: You mentioned some of the elements. We’ve got kind of the live site pulled up here. Some of the elements that came in from the design, some of the iconography that’s being used here for those key areas that were identified early on. Erin, do you want to talk about any of the other things that…

Erin: Yeah. Well, I think for Dale, I know working with Dale and Brian who designed the site on our side, I think there were a lot of really great ideas that came out of just Dale’s research and his excitement about trying new things. So if you go to the top, we have this hamburger menu which we typically see in mobile. But with Owensboro’s growing mobile audience, which we were seeing quite a bit over the last five years, we felt like this would be a great move.

And I think, Dale, this was really something you were inspired with too was the mobile menu. To bring this into play, because we know that their audience is becoming more mobile friendly using their devices more and more. We were seeing a huge shift in desktop usage going down in comparison with mobile.

And so I think bringing that what we call the hamburger menu into play, is an interesting experiment, because I think we’re finding people are getting more familiar with that. They’re not as needy with needing to have every navigation item in front of them. And so these kind of bigger expanse graphics, obviously we have this beautiful video header, it plays really well. It says a lot about their brand.

But you know, we’re seeing the younger generation as beginning more app to mobile, so having these menus out of the way to make room for that brand message is, I think, a really interesting approach and I think we’re seeing a lot of great feedback from that.

David: Cool. I’m going to pull up another page here as well.

Erin: So this is the heart care section. And heart and vascular was one section that was important for Dale and his organization and he can talk to this as well. For the content to be reworked. So this was one section of content that we worked on with him to rewrite and redevelop and to structure in a little bit more friendly way and provide…shrink some of those pages down, make them easier to read and access. So a lot of really great use of bold headings, a lot of great use of calls to action. Really driving people to stay engaged with that content.

And it’s colorful and fun to look at too. It’s really not a bland design. And so it really engages the user on a content and a design level.

David: Cool. Yeah, Erin, you mentioned…some of the pieces of the project that tend to get forgotten in the design phase and obviously this working on the team that you do, what are some of those areas that you often see get maybe neglected or there is, “Oh yeah.”

David: At the end of the project.

Erin: Yeah. That’s a great question. I think part of it is that we have here a third party integration, I think, is one of them. So we worked really closely with third parties. So these could be things like your career or your job portal. It could be physician ratings, you could have appointment requests or urgent care check-in. Anything that you have that that’s a functionality or some kind of tool on your site that you use third party. We like to get that relationship sort of early. Because we want to make sure that those pieces of your current site are integrated in your redesign.

And we don’t want to leave those behind. Usually those functionalities are really important for that user experience. So we don’t want to make them a phase two item, post launch. We really want to make sure they’re there for the day of launch. And so I think integrating those third party elements are great.

Health libraries too. We really like to talk about health libraries because, as we mentioned earlier, you don’t want to have a lot of content on the site that you’re trying to use to answer people’s questions. You’re not trying to answer every question your patient has. Health libraries can be a great way to help work that content in and cross-links to library content. It stays updated on its own. You don’t have to do a whole lot with it and it’s just one less piece of content you have to maintain as a team or as an individual on the web team, to try to keep updated all the time. So health libraries are another great thing.

A great relationship and a great conversation to start early if you’re going that direction.

David: Sure is. At this point, we’ve got design work going on, we’ve got content work going on. Big project. For a lot of folks, they’ve got their current website up and going as well. Project management becomes a pretty important piece of the puzzle. And how do you see that playing out. What advice do you give clients on that.

Erin: Yeah, that’s a really great question as well. So it’s really hard. That is a lot of balls in the air, right? It’s a lot to juggle especially if you’re a one-person team or if you’re working in a smaller group. So you really want to think about setting a few deadlines for yourself. And so we like to talk to clients about starting to maybe put a stop point at adding content to the old site.

Because now it’s just kind of getting…we know it’s going away, so we don’t want to keep updating it. So instead of doing content on the old site, the content that people are coming to you with to add, start maybe finding a home for that on the new site as you’re working toward that launch date.

Maybe stop accepting content changes from departments. So someone might come in and say, “Well, we’ve got to rewrite this whole section on this test or diagnosis that we offer.” That’s great, we’re happy to do it, but maybe let’s start doing it on the new site and start retiring the old site. So we’re not putting a lot of eggs in that basket.

And then of course, stop agonizing over the wish list. That’s a big one. You have so many goals with the redesign and the launch. And we really, as vendors, we really want to support you in those goals, but we also need to make sure that we’re choosing a list of need list over wish list. So thinking about what are those target audiences. What do they really need on that first day of launch. What functionality do we know needs to exist for that first day.

And anything that’s not for that target audience or anything that someone, maybe some stakeholder says, “This would be nice to have.” A nice to have can go on a list wish for a later phase. So start prioritizing future phases after launch and that’s where some of those can start working in in the future.

David: Now Dale, what kind of things ended up on your phase two wish list out of the project?

Dale: One of the big things was content. And what I mean by that is things that are going on within the organization, so news events. I think we may have had ten press releases put on the website in 2015. We’ve got over 50 already for this year. And so really just having as much fresh content that will interact with Google to help us with our Google rankings.

That of course then moves into SEO. So when I was interviewing for the position, the only thing I could find on Owensboro Health on the first page of Google was jobs. And you know it’s a hospital and medical.

So we’ve worked with Geonetric to get our service line on that first page of Google, the right way, organically. We’re not paying for pay per click. And so really making sure that our audience can find us when they’re looking for heart care, when they’re looking for cancer care.

And then also too, something I’m really excited about now is integrating our social pages into the website itself. So now when you go to look at stories, you’ve got the option to like it, tweet it, LinkedIn it, however you want to say that.

Dale: But really share it and get the word of Owensboro Health out there to those social networks and let the user do the work for us about the things that they like and tell their friends.

David: Yeah. So speaking of SEO as kind of a motivator as well, you mentioned getting that press content out there, getting the social pieces going on to help boost SEO. What was your thought process behind PPC versus SEO and why that was becoming a focus as you were working on the new site?

Dale: Well, as part of my previous job in sales for digital, one of the things that I sold was SEO. So I understood off the bat the differences between pay per click and organic. Pay per click is great to get you there, but when your budget runs out, you’re back to square one.

And so money is not always an option for a lot of people, so we want to do it right the first time. So really getting the content updated and correct was part one. But part two was taking that content and then making it search engine friendly. So some of our content that we’ve rewritten is being revised to reflect what Google calls their friends or those terms.

So really we’ve done leaps and bounds, we’ve been in it for, I want to say 90 days, which is about the time that things really start to click with Google when you start making changes like this. And do it correctly. And when you Google Owensboro Health now, our About Us and our services pop up and jobs are still right there, third or fourth, but as an organization, we appear first. So.

David: Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely a big piece to consider in a project like this when you’re, even if you’re staying on the same platform, moving platforms or whatever, a lot of times there’s big changes going on as part of the redesign and thinking about that long term strategy so you’re not paying over and over again for PPC costs, ad costs, when you could just be kind of earning that.

Erin, how do you see that playing out…Owensboro was maybe a more straightforward example of some of the ones I know you’ve seen.

Erin: So what’s really great about SEO is that it’s really easy with analytics to do some benchmarking. And so this is an example of Owensboro…Dale, your team put this together. It looked like, probably for stakeholders, to give them a high level view of, “Here’s where we’re at for page views today. Here’s where we’re at for mobile traffic today.” And just give them benchmarks.

You know, high level. You don’t really have to have anything too direct. For some of your service lines, you might want to get a little bit more nitty gritty with it, but having some of those benchmarks are really great. Thinking about different elements of your benchmarking might include rankings, current listings, links, outbound links, things like that.

Google Analytics can tell you a lot of great stories about how your users are engaging with content and understanding that traffic and where it’s at today gives you some things to look forward to. And of course you always want to remember that you might see some dips after a new launch, especially as pages that are now no longer in existence start to get archived in Google and new pages start to get found by Google, you’re going to see some fluctuation. So thinking about rankings, your traffic and your links as a good way to benchmark some of that planning for your site launch.

David: That’s awesome. I know that we’ve got a set of recommendations that we provide the clients.

There’s just a number of things, a checklist to consider as you’re thinking about keeping track of pages, monitoring them, and planning for that redesign.

So finally, we get to the end of this process. So we’ve got everything together, we’re ready to launch. Dale, you went through a whole series of steps, launching to different audiences and doing some soft launches. What did that look like and what were some of the thought process behind that?

Dale: Sure. Our launch process was nearly as long as the research process. Once we had things where we were comfortable to release them, we did a release to administration to let them go through it.

And then we did a two week release with the managers and directors. This was prefaced by a presentation of the website where I introduced it to leadership and really walked through, element by element, why the website was designed the way it was. I followed up with [inaudible 00:45:42] take the time to look over their departments and their service lines and to report anything that needed to be fixed before we went live.

Once we got all the feedback, which was very minimal, we went then into a public soft launch. And we kind of still are into a soft launch, several months later. We do have a public campaign that we’re going to be launching, probably within the next two or three months. But we had not made a big announcement that the website is new and refreshed yet. I was still waiting to take that bow publicly but we’re out there.

David: It’s an ongoing process of ruling things out. Were you at any point…once you start to open things up to that soft launch, you start to get feedback internally did you ever feel overwhelmed with feedback and how did you manage that process?

Dale: No, we really didn’t. I set up a [Inaudible 00:46:45] form builder. And I created a survey that if the managers and directors saw something that needed to be fixed, instead of me getting 20 emails in a day and trying to follow up on 20 emails, I had it all funnelled to that one spreadsheet and as they came in I was able to make a correction and follow up via email to them to let them know it was fixed.

But then again, I didn’t have 20 emails a day telling me that something was wrong with it. So really just giving them an option to express their concerns and also too, let them rate the website. So you know if they thought it was excellent or if they thought that it needed work. We got a lot of excellents.

David: Yeah. You really figure a process of going top down, getting by and a couple of times through the process and communicating it that way as well. And you guys, I know, did a really…you really went above and beyond, I guess, with your internal communication. Tell us a little bit about the scavenger hunt project that you did.

Dale: Sure. We did do a soft launch with the employees and at the same time we were doing the redesign of the website, we launched our mobile app as well. And so we came up with a campaign called “Agents of Technology”. And we sent out an email to the entire organization saying that they would have a chance to win an Apple Watch if they became an “Agent of Technology.”

And what that was is, they had to go on our website and also download our mobile app and answer five questions on the website and five questions on the mobile app. And if they got both right, they had two chances to win the Apple Watch Sport.

So it was a lot of fun. We did it for two weeks. We had over, I want to say 1,200 folks, that engaged with it. And it was just phenomenal to see how many people got excited about the new website and new mobile app and the emails that I got about, “It was the coolest thing to do this scavenger hunt.” It was just an exciting…it was a way to top off a job well done. It was gratifying, if you will. If they had fun with it and they were excited about it and we actually had fun with videos and when we presented it to the winner, we made a big deal out of it and sent it out. So it was a good time.

David: Oh that’s great. That’s such a good way to get your group involved, but also recognizing that those 1,200 employees are great ambassadors for your organization out in the community. And then getting that visibility starting to spread out.

Erin, what other things do you see clients are doing as part of launch.

Erin: I think Dale’s example is great. That was a pretty unique one, for starters. I think that’s a really fun way to get involved. But externally when you’re thinking about the public and those target audiences you’re trying to bring in, this is an example of a client we launched in early 2015. They went online and showed a picture with their new website and their excited web team.

Talking about their new website and how much functionality it’s going to bring in and how much better user experiences their fans can expect. So sharing it on social is a great way. Your social fans are also your brand ambassadors. They’re following you because they care about your content. So tell them about your new mobile friendly website. Link them to pages of content or events or of blogs or physicians that you’re trying to promote.

Mention your new website and it’s functionality in newsletters and email marketing too. People are engaging with email. Email’s hugely on the rise. So make a point to put that in an upcoming newsletter or email marketing. And always be sure to advertise with traditional media, if you can.

So a lot of the same stuff that we all know how to do, but thinking about the launch is really a big deal internally but it’s really important to your users as well. So letting them know that your site is now mobile-friendly is also a great way to see that mobile traffic go up pretty quickly.

David: Definitely. Definitely. There are some concluding thoughts. Dale, I just wanted to start with you. If you had to sum up the project, what are some of the things that you learned through it and any thoughts or tips that you have to share out of it.

Dale. Yeah. It’s just always ask questions. I was very new to this process. So don’t be afraid if you don’t understand something. I know when I got Erin’s content matrix, I was just overwhelmed. I was like, “What is this?”

You know? And so really just ask the questions, “Okay, this is great. You’ve given me this. But what do I do with it?” And so it was a positive experience all the way through. I would just say allow yourself plenty of time for approval. Don’t take things personally on feedback. Just try to analyze it and figure out what’s the best way to move forward with it.

And get excited about it. It’s fun times. And once you get a shiny new toy out there to play with, to see how people are playing with it with Google Analytics is just fun. So just really sit back and enjoy the ride and let Geonetric help you all the way, which is what I did and it was a very rewarding experience.

David: You make it sound so fun.

Dale: Well, it was. I enjoyed it. I really really did. Still enjoying it.

David: Erin, what are your top tips or big takeaways?

Erin: Well, I think with Dale’s example, being with Owensboro and all the processes and approvals that they went through and really rallying their folks on their side to make sure that they understood the breadth of the project and what the scope was and what the expectations would be. I think that’s a really important takeaway. And we really appreciate being there and supporting clients, of course, along the way.

Providing any materials we can to help with some of those conversations and even those difficult conversations we may have to have regarding content and paring some things down. I think really having those approvals lined up, knowing your team, what you’re responsible for.

And like Dale said. Ask questions and speak up. If something stumps you along the way, talk to your vendor. Talk to whoever…your account manager or whomever you’re working with…and make sure they answer those questions for you. Because that’s really the only way we’re gonna know that we need to take a step back and reevaluate and make sure that we’re in the right place together.

And really that communication is so key, with a project of this size. Because you really want to make sure you stand on the same page and there’s no way to do that but to be honest with each other and be open. So it really is a partnership and it’s not just a hired relationship. It’s really a partnership and a very strategic partnership.

David: That’s great. So that sums it up. We’re going to open the floor for some questions. We’re going to do some Q & A now.



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