A Lifeline for Lifeline
It’s always good to see a familiar face. Having first worked with Lifeline on another engagement, we developed a trusting relationship. Seeing our work ethic and passion in action was enough for Lifeline to reach out to us again.
This project, however, would be far more intensive, and ended up as one of the most complex projects that we have ever taken on.
Getting Things Flowing
We went into this project with an understanding of Lifeline’s business, but we decided we needed to take our knowledge of the industry one step further. To accomplish this task, we scheduled a 2-day boot camp at the Lifeline headquarters in Vernon Hills, Illinois. The goal of this discovery session was to completely immerse ourselves in Lifeline’s business.
The first step was determining the audience. Gathered in a room with all the key stakeholders, we covered our surroundings with notepads, post-it-notes, and white boards full of details on the backgrounds, motivations, and ideal website features of core users. Through careful discussion and refinement, we were able to condense these notes into 5 well thought-out User Personas.
All of the research was worth the time. In determining the audience, we made a few key discoveries. Lifeline’s business model is more of a B2B approach for physicians looking to grow/manage their practices. The actual patients go to these physicians for referrals, and in return, the physicians recommend where these patients should go for treatment.
Once we understood user motivations, we then applied those key leanings to revisiting the information architecture. We restructured the website into logical and orderly pages that grouped like information in an easily accessible way. To compliment this new site structure, we applied our SEO expertise to uncover the best possible key word phrases that would allow Lifeline to rank highly, and, more importantly, above their competitors across all the major search engines.
To complete the discovery process, we took it one step further and visited an actual Lifeline facility. Our principal, Naveed Usman, went so far as to put on scrubs to witness the kinds of procedures that these centers perform on a daily basis. This up close and personal approach allowed us to see the value that Lifeline brings to each of its centers.
When coming up with a concept for the design, there was one aspect of Lifeline’s business that stood out and influenced our philosophy. That was the idea that Lifeline is not just one of many companies in the healthcare management field, but one of the leading ones. This meant that we had to come up with a concept that showed a particularly high level of success and standards. The redesign also had to be completely different from their competition, while remaining best in class. We wanted the site to scream, “We are the best!” before the user even had a chance to get into the content. We approached this goal in a number of ways.
The first challenge was finding a way to showcase some impressive company statistics to feature prominently on the home page. The idea was to demonstrate capability by showing that Lifeline’s current wins. We used some friendly faces from the Lifeline team in the form of a slider, as well as some telling infographics and a video overview of the company to build further on the idea of experience and credibility, while maintaining brand standards.
The same philosophy carried over to the sub pages. With so many pages that ranged in size and content, we made sure to add in images and infographics to highlight important people and facts. This allowed us to give the pages a more interesting structure overall, which kept things fresh for the user.
When working with a client, there are often certain assumptions that need to be communicated in order to continue progress. Sometimes, things get missed, and that can be painful. In an attempt to remain organized and keep everyone on the same page, we held weekly phone calls with the main stakeholders in the project.
Keeping in constant communication with a client is also an excellent way to develop new ideas. However, this also means that you have to be agile in development and be able to cater to the new ideas that are exchanged.
A great example of this is the Find a Center Page, which originally started as a state-by-state search. However, it eventually developed into a full out zip code search. And finally ended up as the final product you see today.
This also happened on a larger scale not once, but twice with the addition of the Secure and Marketplace sections of the site. The challenge lied in finding a way to not only integrate these sites into the platform, but also to brand them all in a similar way. Luckily, Lifeline had brand standards in place, so we just had to take the time to explore other options that would compliment the brand, and come up with a strategic design to meet these added goals.
The first addition to the site was the Secure Login section. This section was fairly straightforward in that it would serve as a large archive of files and educational materials for Lifeline physicians and staff to access at their discretion. Rather than go for a flashy approach, we opted for an easy and clear organization, relying on strong headers, file names, and file labels to properly organize and store all data.
This idea was soon followed up with the addition of an e-commerce marketplace for Lifeline employees to buy branded products for promotional and personal use. Though not a true ecommerce platform in the sense of the word (there is not a direct check out system, it functions more as a catalogue), we still had to find a way to display and organize multiple products in a user-friendly way, while providing options for product purchases and inquiries.
These additions to the website would not have even come to fruition without these frequent discussions with the client. We made sure to work with them in order to find time to incorporate these additions into their finished product so that everything could roll out at once. It is our philosophy to stick with the client every step of the way, and make sure we do whatever we can, even if it means taking on more work to deliver a better end product.
We Won’t Leave You Hanging
Being partners is more than just a term to show we are working together on a project. It shows a strong bond and commitment to doing whatever it takes, even after the final product is delivered, to enhance and strengthen the end product.
Once the site was live, we left it out in the wild to give people a chance to check it out. This allowed us to gather some feedback based on actual user experiences. It was then our responsibly to prioritize the feedback by thinking through these comments to see what changes were worth making, and how we could go about building a better user experience. These ranged from small tweaks in content to larger functional enhancements.
A Lifeline for Lifeline
Experiences like this really allow you to grow as a company. We had to flex our muscles as both designers, and business partners to insure that everything gelled. With every project, we learn something new and get better at what we do. On to the next challenge.