It’s been a Herculean effort that has included a countless number of meetings, design tweaks, conversations, strategy sessions, edits, inputs, and reviews. Two years after the endeavor began, the MGH Institute of Health Professions has a new website, which launched this week.
“I'm definitely happy with the way it turned out,” said Rachel Renaux, Senior Web Content & Strategy Manager who implemented many of the technical aspects of the web redesign. “One of the things I have a passion for is organizing content and making it easier for people to use. I think we've accomplished that with this website because it's a lot easier to navigate.”
“It’s a night and day difference,” added Jorge Sanchez de Lozada, Director of Technology and Web Services. “We're always going to be our biggest critic. There's always going to be things that people probably aren't going to even see that we're going to be like, ‘Oh, that looks off,’ but the overall experience is going to be a better one.”
Designed and implemented by Primacy, an independent digital agency with offices in West Palm Beach, FL, Boston, MA, and Farmington, Connecticut, with the collaboration of teams and leaders across the IHP, the new website is meant to provide a more appealing virtual front door with a better user experience, appealing visuals, and information that is easier to find.
“This website will allow the IHP to tell more of its story, what our core values and mission are, what we do, and what we offer,” said Sanchez de Lozada. “This will give people a bigger overall picture of who we are.”
One of the drivers of the new site was the sunset of support for the former website’s content management system. With no choice but to upgrade, the IHP went through the former website with a fine-tooth comb, identifying ways to refine the menu structure and architecture while stripping away 2,500 pages.
“Refining a significant amount of content will make it easier for everyone to find information much quicker,” said Sanchez de Lozada. “Bringing down that page count can dramatically improve how quickly people get to their content.”
The timing for the new website was fortuitous – coming when the IHP was expanding with the launch of the School of Healthcare Leadership.
“The new site will allow the IHP to market at two altitudes,” said Renaux. “Our core offerings, which are the clinical professions like physical therapy, and nursing, plus programs that the SHL is expanding into such as data analytics and health administration.”
Easier to Navigate
Appealing to prospective students is a significant focus of the website design. To that end, a program finder – which an IHP website has never had before – has been implemented.
“You can easily sort by what clinical degree program you might be interested in,” said Renaux. “Or if it's continued professional development, as a user you can sort by what topic area you might be interested and easily find when programs are offered, and how to sign up for those programs. There was no easy listing of those things on the previous website.”
Website taxonomy – the way content is organized and navigated – is another significant addition. The motto, “Create once, use many times” will be in play here. Depending on what terms a story, event, or announcement is associated with will dictate where it goes – and what audiences see it.
“Before, a news article might only be on the homepage, and there was no clear place on program or school pages for that same content,” said Renaux. “Now we can do different things with it. Same with events. An event for the library isn’t just going to live in the library section. We can have it be in the event calendar. We can have it feed into the faculty and staff area on the website. When content can be created once, but fed throughout the site, it reaches a wider audience.”
Student recruitment is an important focus and so are the IHP’s other audiences: alumni, donors, stakeholders, IPC clients, staff, and faculty.
“There’s a drop-down menu and landing page for each audience,” said Sanchez de Lozada. “And that will make it clear where they need to go to find the information they need.”
Focus groups were asked to perform different tasks and find items on the IHP’s prototype website, which helped refine how items were displayed.
“We didn’t just assume how things should look or be structured,” assured Sanchez de Lozada. “We validated it at the start of the design process.”
“Just the Beginning”
While you might think the redesign and launch of the new website means the end of a marathon, Renaux and Sanchez de Lozada say the run is just beginning.
“While it has been a monumental effort to get to this point, the site will be in a constant state of improvement,” said Renaux. “We have a list of improvements we want to work on throughout the next few years with input from departments and offices.”
“It’s actually the beginning of a new implementation that we're excited to move forward with,” she continued “We're just getting to the starting line, if you will.”
A starting line that never would have been in sight had it not been for the backing from the top.
“None of this happens without the support of senior leadership,” said Sanchez de Lozada. “The fact that we had the support from President Milone-Nuzzo all the way down makes a huge difference and really helped to push this thing along.”
Do you have a story the Office of Strategic Communications should know about? If so, email ihposc [at] mghihp.edu (ihposc).