STEP ONE: ASK A QUESTION
How do we make interesting information more compelling?
We were asking this question on behalf of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF), the only organization in the world that celebrates the accomplishments of Canadian medical professionals.
The existing CMHF website was not helping the organization fulfil its mission to “recognize and celebrate Canadian heroes whose work has advanced health, thereby inspiring the pursuit of careers in the health sciences.” Their website was drawing visitors, but those visitors weren’t staying for long.
The CMHF presents programs to encourage young people to pursue medical careers. Their Discovery Days are full-day workshops, hosted by medical schools and research institutions across Canada, that give secondary school students an opportunity to explore careers in medicine and the health sciences. They provide scholarships to grade 12 and CEGEP students who aspire to study medicine or health sciences, and current medical students. In their home community of London, Ontario, they’re part of Museum School.
But the principle role of the CMHF is storing and showcasing the stories and photos of Canada’s medical heroes—the women and men who have advanced medicine and improved health. These are exciting tales of people who have made a difference not just for Canadians, but for people around the world.
So how do we get these stories to generate the same kind of reverence and awe that their sports equivalents do?
STEP TWO: DO THE BACKGROUND RESEARCH
Doing the background research is an integral part of our process. We call it “discovery.”
During our discovery with CMHF, we learned about their goals for the organization, and translated them into goals for the new website, starting with these two:
Engage the general public in a way that allows them to learn about and celebrate the work done by our medical heroes, inspires them to follow in their footsteps, and instills a sense of national pride about what they have accomplished.
Share Laureate stories in a way that is timely
(based on their research focus) and inviting
(encouraging visitors to explore the site further).
We also investigated the technical and functional considerations that would influence the new site’s design and development. We recognized that internal (CMHF staff and board members) and external users would have unique expectations and needs for the site. For internal users, a robust content management system (CMS) was necessary so that staff members could easily update homepage content. CMHF board members across the country needed a way to expedite content sharing and collaboration.
For external users, access to easy-to-use forms for the various education programs, and laureate nominations and induction ceremonies, was important, but above all, they needed clear access to the engaging laureate bios and information that is the CMHF’s raison d'être.
Step Three: Construct a Hypothesis
Our hypothesis was a very simple one: that the laureate biographies were not accessible enough—they were buried under other valuable information. Also, for anyone going directly to a bio—via a search engine, for example—there was no easy way to get to another bio.
Also, showcasing laureates whose work was particularly timely—for example, featuring the bios of heart and stroke researchers during February, when their work and causes receive extra national or international awareness—was important, and CMHF staff needed an easy way to change featured laureates.
So we needed to make it easy for visitors to find the content that they wanted, and make sure that the navigation was intuitive. We wanted to evoke feelings of celebration, pride, and inspiration, so much so that visitors are compelled to explore the site deeper than originally intended and share their discoveries with their friends. Our challenge was not to bring visitors to the site, but to keep them there, and bring them back for more.
Step Four: Test the Hypothesis
In this case, testing the hypothesis involved redesigning the site, with improved navigation, and a “call to action” at the end of each bio, leading the visitor to “Learn More” about another laureate. (Based on our research and experience, we were pretty darned sure this was the answer. We recognize that redesigning a website is a big step, and one that we don’t undertake without investigation and consideration.)
We chose a palette rich in hues drawn from traditional awards—gold, silver and bronze—and patriotic reds to create emphasis and tie our nation’s identity with its ever-growing number of medical heroes. We also juxtaposed historical and “recent” photography to underscore the continuity of excellence this country is home to.
Our redesign included an improved CMS to make it easier for staff to change the featured laureates to take advantage of events that create additional awareness of their work.
Step Five: Analyze the Data
As expected, the Google analytics for the redesigned CMHF site indicated that the exit percentage was reduced, which means that fewer people are leaving after viewing a single laureate bio. Visitors are reading more, and staying longer.
15% LOWER EXIT PERCENTAGE
Currently, the exit percentage is 15% lower than it was for the previous site; however, at the time of this writing, the site is still fairly new, and we’re monitoring analytics to continue to improve site traffic, and users’ experience.
Step Six: Draw a Conclusion
Compelling content isn’t useful if you can’t find it. Improved navigation to the information that people want makes their visit more enjoyable and leads to increased time on the site.
The redesigned CMHF site is now a great showcase for the stories of Canada’s medical heroes, and a welcoming and user-friendly place for visitors to find out more about the accomplishments of this country’s health professionals who have improved the lives of people here and around the globe.
Meet the team behind
the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
Good website design is a science... and an art. Talk to us about how we can apply both to your site.