Loyola Medicine – Making Search Work
One of the beauties — and challenges — of websites is that they’re never truly done. Think about it. Sure, you can go through a redesign and overhaul the look and feel of your site, but is it ever done? There are always new components to add or strategies you can test. When it comes to your site and its user experience, you always want to make sure it’s as good as can be.
We love working with our clients to overhaul their online presence and then maintain a relationship as we help fine-tune aspects of the site after the launch.
That’s exactly what we’ve done with Loyola Medicine here in Chicago.
We performed a complete redesign of Loyola’s website about two years ago. After launch is a time that may seem like the least active part of a project life cycle, but in reality, it is the best time to fine tune the experience. One recent fine-tuning opportunity was with the site’s DocFinder tool.
When the site was originally designed, it was our understanding that visitors frequently searched for doctors.However, we came to realize that there really were two different audiences who used the search function: the group of people who know the doctor they were looking for and needed his or her information, and the group of people who knew they needed a doctor but didn’t know who was the best fit. Our task with this update was to address the latter audience.
To solve the problem, we recommended rebuilding the search tool to allow for the default search option to search by specialty or condition, rather than name. It sounds simple and minimal, but the reality is it completely changes the user experience. Someone in our primary audience will easily be able to browse through doctors that meet their specific needs and not have to scroll through hundreds of names looking at each doctor’s specialty.
Not to be forgotten, the secondary audience that knows who they are looking for simply have to toggle within the search panel to search by doctor name. They’re on much more of a direct path than our primary audience, and they shouldn’t mind that extra simple step.
One of the best things about using Drupal for the Loyola Medicine website, and specifically the DocFinder search page, is that we were able to seamlessly integrate Loyola’s database with the website. That way, the website does not become the database of record, and also it allows the content on the site to update whenever it updates within the database.
In the process of restructuring the search options, we adjusted the format of the search, again to make for an easier user experience. Rather than a multi-tiered approach (think of searching for a condition, then selecting next, then searching for a location, then selecting next, and so on), we made the primary filters visible from the outset.
As part of the project, we spoke with the staff at Loyola, and we heard feedback that many of the doctors thought the results page of the DocFinder came up short when compared with other hospitals. Initially, the page just displayed the doctor’s name and one of their specialties; to learn more, the user had to click the doctor’s bio page. Because of Drupal’s seamless integration, we were easily able to revamp that. Now when a user searches for doctors, the results
page lists a doctor’s name, their title, their complete list of specialties and the location of their practice. Users are still able to read more on the individual doctor’s bio page, but this way, they can much more of an understanding of who the doctor is and what they do from the outset.
We were appreciative that the doctors talked with us about their frustrations, and it served as a great reminder to think of everyone who uses — and is impacted by — your website. Especially if you ever do work on a website for a hospital or law firm, it’s important to consider the professionals who are trying to be found. Oftentimes they have their own set of expectations for the website, and it’s important to meet those whenever possible.
We’re excited to see the results of these updates, and we’re looking forward to our next challenge so we can continue to help Loyola Medicine’s website be as powerful as it can be.
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