Project story

Children's Memorial Hospital

Between July 2005 and June 2012, we were the web designers for Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, one of the leading children's hospitals. The hospital changed its name recently and launched a different website on June 9, 2012. [Webitects did not design or develop the new site.]

Children's Memorial Hospital home page

Children's Memorial Hospital Website, prior to June 2012.

Content is king

Easy-to-use CMS. Authors and editors can edit pages in place, photos can be uploaded and cropped in a browser, and several levels of security manage when content is made public.

Find a Doctor. Parents find the doctors they need with an intuitive search and visual and geo-mapped results. A mobile version supports all the major features.

Good content, written by the staff treating patients, and an effective design strategy, have made their site one of the most highly trafficked children's hospital sites. We design websites with the aim of supporting the business and communications goals of the organization. Crucial to the success of a hospital is that potential patients, or in this case, parents of patients, find the sorts of information they need when seeking treatment for their child.

Placing a Superbowl ad is easy, just spend lots of money. Achieving top search engine results, however, requires that others confirm the value of the content on your site by visiting it or linking to it. High rankings are very hard to achieve and easy to lose.

According to US News Best Children's Hospitals 2010-11, Children's Memorial ranks in the top 10 in the areas of urology, kidney diseases, neurology and neurosurgery, gastroenterology, and oncology.

And if you search Google for related phrases, the hospital ranks, in searches:
1 for "children's hospital chicago"
2 for "children's hospital"
2 for "find a children's doctor"
1 for "pediatric urology chicago"
3 for "children's hospital urology"
2 for "children's blood disorders"
and many more. 

Google-wise, they virtually "own" some areas and conditions, including "fetal health," "Neurology," "Urology"and related terms. These have been supported by YouTube videos in many of these areas.

In terms of traffic, they are ranked:
1 among regional children's hospitals
3 among similarly-sized national children's hospitals
4 among regional hospitals (adult + children)
8 among all national children's hospitals (including much larger)

Our strategy for improving Children's search engine rankings was to increase the amount of unique, timely information about the specific cutting edge treatments offered at the hospital. This required that the people providing care write many of the articles, which they did through our very easy-to-use  content management system, described below. 

Content management had to be easy

About 150 doctors, nurses, and staff wrote and editted articles using our content management system. [Many of these articles have not been transfered to the new site launched on June 9, 2012.] Several managing editors controlled final grammar, spelling, and what got released to the public site. Images could be uploaded, cropped, and resized through the browser.

Components included 

Find-a-doc supports business goals

Over the last few years, Children’s has been planning its move from Lincoln Park to downtown Chicago [now complete]. At the same time, suburban and Milwaukee hospitals have been competing more keenly. To address this issue, hospital leadership has increased the number of satellite clinics and asked doctors to spend more time in these clinics, so that patients and their parents will not have to travel far for treatment.  

In support of this goal, we redesigned Find a Doctor. This effort was informed by detailed usability testing, interviews with parents, and analysis of visitor search behavior over the previous three years. [The find-a-doc was not carried over completely to the new site launched on June 9, 2012.] 

One primary goal was to make it easy for a parent to find an appropriate physician “near you.” We also simplified the search interface and redesigned location and direction components to include embedded maps and links to driving directions.

One of our web designers, Nick Rougeux, presented the new Find-a-doc at the 2008 Greystone national web healthcare conference. 

Our Find-a-doc is still unmatched among hospital websites in terms of flexibility and features, including: an easy-to-use appointment request; search auto-suggest; geo-mapped results; doctor photos in results; and videos of doctors.

Mobile traffic is growing rapidly

Children's mobile site works well on all popular smartphones.

Children's had one of the most advanced mobile-optimized hospital websites. [Their new site currently does not have a mobile version.]

When designing it, our first goal was to support all the features of the Find-a-doc on the main website because we expected it to be used by many parents seeking the nearest location for treatment and directions on how to get there.

Later, we added  most of the main site's clinical material, a complete glossary, a calendar of events, and a simple way to sign up for newsletters.

To do professional web design today, designers must have a good understanding of how mobile interfaces and technologies work.

Since the launch of Children's mobile site in April 2010, mobile traffic has increased significantly.

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Since Children's Memorial Hospital engaged Webitects—and in July 2005 launched a redesigned site using their custom content management system—childrensmemorial.org has won several major design awards.

In my experience, Webitects does far more than create pretty pages; they have been proactive business partners, helping us to problem solve and think through a variety of issues.

Kerry Otto, Manager of Web Communications

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