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“Andy is quite frankly the dream contractor you hope to have on a project.”

Seattle Children's Hospital

Seattle Children’s provides pediatric and adolescent care for patients across Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho and is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the 10 best children’s hospitals in the country. The Seattle Children’s website navigation and home page, however, had not been redesigned since their creation in 2009 and were no longer effectively serving the needs of either users or the business.

Seattle Childrens Hospital, Research, Foundation

Project Goals

  • Assess user and business goals to ensure effective, 
 scalable, long-lived project outcomes
  • Redesign global navigation of the Seattle Children’s website to better align with current user and business needs
  • Redesign the Seattle Children’s home page to support user journeys that increasingly start elsewhere on the site
  • Redesign global share, print, and contact functionality to create a consistent, context appropriate experience
  • Support a wide range of desktop and mobile use cases
Screen capture of the Seattle Children's Hospital website before project work
The Seattle Children’s home page prior to project work

Project Approach

In order to ensure that final design recommendations met both user and organizational requirements, I worked closely with the Seattle Children’s marketing and communications team and activley involved both site users and stakeholders throughout the discovery and design process. Project activities included:

Alignment Persona Workshop

In order to build support for the redesign effort and eventual recommendations early, it was essential to align project stakeholders around users, tasks, and goals from the start. To accomplish this I facilitated an “Alignment Personas” workshop that engaged stakeholders in a collaborative process of externalizing and articulating their deep knowledge about the organization, its customers, and their goals.

This exercise produced a prioritized list of primary and secondary user groups, including a detailed description of the “wants” and “needs” that bring each group to the Seattle Children’s website. This list provided a stakeholder-vetted user baseline for subsequent research efforts, including interviews, card sort exercises, and usabilty testing.

Photo of people working around a large table covered in sticky notes in columns
The alignment personas workshop is a dynamic, highly collaborative activity

Card Sort Study

In order to better understand site users’ mental models of Seattle Children’s content, I conducted an online card sort study of 38 terms with representative sample of 342 Seattle Children’s website users across three Washington State counties.

Participants were asked to group “cards” representing concepts from key use and communication areas of the website, and then create labels for their groups. I analyzed the aggregated results to identify the groupings and labels users largely agreed on, those that highlighted several distinct models for coneptualizing content, and those on which there was no broad consensus across the sample set.

These insight, combined with alignment persona data, stakeholder interviews, and competitive and heuristic reviews provided the primary reseach inputs from which I then began to draft approaches to navigation and experience design.

Image of a dendrogram diagram of card sort results
Card sort visualization tools helped us understand a range of users' mental models

Prototype Usability Testing

The primary design phase of this project used a series of concepts and prototypes at increasingly higher levels of fidelity. Once the project sponsor and collaborators were confident with a solution that met business and user needs, I refined these prototypes to support a series of eight usability tests across two locations. These tests provided direct end-user feedback on both desktop and mobile experiences.

Findings from the usability test were used to inform additional iterations and improvements on design recommendations. Improvements and the research insights that support them were presented to stakeholders in parallel to ensure transparency and inspire confidence in the user centered design process.

A woman working on a laptop computer showing a wireframe of a website
Wireframe usability tests provided early feedback on the design prototype

Client Outcomes

The new Seattle Children’s website represents a fundamental shift in the way Seattle Children’s communicates to site visitors. Where the old site focused on providing static information about the organization, the new site focuses on taking action (as a parent seeking care for a child or as a donor), and on demonstrating the impact Seattle Children’s has on the community.

This shift was accomplished by balancing user and organizational priorities for the website and by using a research-driven, user-centered design approach to align Seattle Childrens’ multiple interests around their shared organizational goal: to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible.

Screen capture of the Seattle Children's Hospital website after project work
The Seattle Children’s home page after implementation of the design recommendations created in this project. Home page visual design created in collaboration with Joe Shoop of Studio Upleft.

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