Throughout the process, we worked with an incredible client team who not only wanted to push the boundaries of their industry, but also uniquely serve the individuals who needed their services the most.

This stunning digital transformation, led by Cardinal Innovations’ VP of Marketing and Communications, Ashley Conger, was no small feat—it included a six-week content audit (more on that below), a technical infrastructure analysis, a revamped content strategy, copywriting, Level AA WCAG 2.0 compliance, and more. We created a site that empowers a differently-abled population to access the information they need to receive care.

Project highlights:

  • Analyzed approximately 1,800 legacy pages and documents during the content audit process
  • Developed a new content strategy and wrote new copy for critical areas of the site
  • Implemented event finder and provider search functionality
  • The website now provides accessible information for 22 counties across North Carolina for nearly 850,000 individuals with complex needs.
  • Post-launch, the website recorded 9% increase in organic search traffic, 14% decrease in bounce rate, and 48% decrease in site exits after using on-site search.

Interested in exploring more about how we did it? Read on.

Meet the client: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare

Complicated behavioral health conditions require expert, personal care that’s easily accessible.

This is a need that Cardinal Innovations Healthcare meets every day. Cardinal Innovations is a managed care organization (MCO) that directs Medicaid funding to meet the health and wellness needs of North Carolina residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health diagnoses, and substance use disorders (IDD/MH/SUD).

Cardinal Innovations contracts behavioral health services through a network of providers in 20 North Carolina counties. These providers offer a wide array of services and supports for people who have IDD/MH/SUD diagnoses such as autism, Down syndrome, schizophrenia, mood disorders, and drug or alcohol dependency.

The client team at Cardinal Innovations made this project a triumph because they had the vision of a champion and a heart filled with compassion for the community they served. Ashley Conger, VP of Communications & Marketing at Cardinal Innovations, led the charge to redesign her organization’s digital ecosystem and was supported by Cardinal Innovations’ resident rock star, Kristin Paulet Wilson, Digital Marketing Manager. Their combined drive and determination made the project a success (and completed ahead of schedule!).

The challenge

The old Cardinal Innovations’ website didn’t reflect the nature of its services and mission. The responsiveness, navigation, and UX of the site left much to be desired. Additionally, the website wasn’t accessible via mobile devices, wasn’t accessible for differently-abled users, and wasn’t maintained over time with updated information. Previously, the website was largely used as a document repository, and it was heavily underutilized by the organization’s key audiences: people and families living with IDD/MH/SUD, and the providers who serve them.

Cardinal Innovations needed to produce a fresh, consumer-facing, and brand-aligned digital ecosystem that is accessible by the unique population that needs the information and services the most.

Kicking things off on the right foot

Before we could begin the front and back end development of this website, we needed to craft an informed strategy. This began with our roadmapping study and customer segmentation engagement. This exercise allowed us to fully understand Cardinal Innovations by developing detailed and well-informed personas and customized user journeys that would eventually inform the site build and content development. It also provided Cardinal Innovations an opportunity to shift from their old way of working to a new process that aligns their digital strategy to business goals and member needs.

This engagement also allowed both teams a better understanding of what’s possible in the future for the Cardinal Innovations’ organization and how to get there.

Simplifying the complex

A content audit can be a daunting task for any organization but is crucial to understand what already exists before creating anything new. Our Integrated Marketing & Insights team members brainstormed how to approach the hundreds of detail pages, PDFs, Word documents, and other content assets that needed assessment. As part of our content auditing process, our analysts deployed a bot from Screaming Frog to crawl the site, pull every piece of content, then compiled a list of all pages into one master list. The team then created a survey that contained questions such as:

  • “What content topics matter to which persona?”
  • “Does this relate to a specific Cardinal Innovations-funded initiative?”
  • “Is this information intended for a specific region of Cardinal Innovations’ coverage?”

With these questions and many more, we surveyed every piece of content that was pulled from the legacy site. This survey process made it easy for us to streamline and analyze content and organizational trends in the results.

The content audit was a six-week process. But by the end of it, we were well-equipped to establish an informed content strategy that eliminated the outdated and irrelevant content that was no longer needed on the website.

Pulling the pieces together

Healthcare digital ecosystems require special attention, as we discuss in this healthcare content strategy blog post. Just as comprehensive healthcare is a necessity for patients, so is an intuitive, mobile-responsive website experience for users who are looking for healthcare information. This is more complicated and important when a website is generally intended for special populations who are living with IDD/MH/SUD diagnoses.

We worked with our partners at Cardinal Innovations to identify the reading level at which we should write our copy, as well as any special considerations we should take into account during our content creation process. From there, we developed a content strategy that informed the copywriter on the tone, voice, layout, and vision for each page.

We became a subject-matter expert on all things related to Cardinal Innovations. These efforts included reviewing brand documents, immersing ourselves in the content pieces retrieved from the content audit, and researching the details of the specific diagnoses for which Cardinal Innovations helps provide resources.

UX is in the eye of the beholder

After the development of the content strategy, we presented the client with mood boards that represented two different design directions for the website. Both incorporated the essential elements of Cardinal Innovations’ current brand identity, such as the dark blue undertones in its color palette and subtle visual cues that remind the users of Cardinal Innovations’ professionalism and expertise. But both also introduced fresh new design ideas that reinforced Cardinal Innovations’ progression toward community reinvestment and the empowerment of its members.

In the end, the client loved both mood boards so much that they requested a combination of both. We took elements of both directions to create a design that includes soft, authentic imagery, energetic colors, and a clean layout—elements that spoke to the initial requests from the stakeholders we surveyed at the start of the project.

Ready, set, launch (…in phases)

After content and design was complete, production began.
Due to the urgent nature of this re-platform and redesign, we executed a rolling deployment of phases of the site. The first deployment focused on launch-critical information we knew the website had to have immediately for members to access, like information about Medicaid. We then wrapped up the redesign by focusing on the pages that weren’t as crucial as those in the first batch, but still priority, such as FAQs and the resources library. This allowed us to launch nearly 2 months ahead of schedule, allowing Cardinal Innovations’ members and providers use of the site immediately.

Visit the Cardinal Innovations Healthcare website. We would love to know what you think.
Are you looking for dedicated, expert digital strategists for your healthcare organization? Get in touch.

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