Craig Hospital is a world-renowned rehabilitation center that specializes exclusively in treating spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. This isn’t your typical hospital — the close-knit community and inspiring atmosphere make it a joyful place that’s full of life. We worked with the Craig Hospital team to highlight that positive spirit throughout their new site, and to help them share the remarkable recovery stories of their patients. Our goal was to make it easy for potential patients and their families to see why Craig Hospital is more than a place where they can begin to heal — it’s a place where they can thrive.


What we did

Backstory

Craig Hospital is a world-renowned rehabilitation center that focuses exclusively on treating spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.  It is a not-for-profit medical center located near Denver, CO.  Nearly 30,000 patients with spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries have been treated there since 1956 — more than any other facility in the country.


Challenge

Craig isn’t your typical hospital — it has a remarkable atmosphere and a culture that is casual (but professional), active, and upbeat.  That unique character was hard to express on the old site, which felt stale, cluttered, and inflexible.  The Craig Hospital team couldn’t share the facility’s inspiring atmosphere, its feeling of close-knit community, or tell the story of their patients in an engaging way.  Most importantly, the loved ones of potential patients — the people most likely looking at the site for the first time on a mobile device while stuck in the ICU, dealing with the reality of an incredibly traumatic incident, and trying to make difficult decisions about care and treatment — couldn’t find the information they needed or get a real picture of what life and treatment at Craig Hospital is like.  

Our challenge was to bring the personality and spirit of Craig Hospital onto the site, to provide a place to tell the amazing success stories of their patients, and to make it easy for potential patients and their families to see why Craig Hospital is more than a place where they can begin to heal — it’s a place where they can thrive.


Approach

We started by getting to know Craig Hospital better.  We met with stakeholders representing departments from across the hospital so we could understand their roles within the larger organization, discover their pain points with the current website, and learn how they hoped the website would evolve.  We met with a cross-section of patients and their primary caregivers and talked to them about how they discovered Craig Hospital, why they choose it as their rehabilitation facility, and what their experience was like.  We also reviewed analytics data to better understand current use of the site.  

Based on the information from the interviews and our analytics data, it was clear that a responsive approach was critical because most individuals in the primary audience initially researched Craig by visiting the website on their mobile phone or tablet device.  A primary concern was making those individuals feel reassured and not overwhelmed by the site.  Other insights from our initial discovery helped us understand that we also needed to: make the site more visual; to bring the personality of the hospital front and center;, to consolidate information; to make  it easier to navigate; and to bring relevant statistics out of hiding. 

Because Craig Hospital is such an inspiring, positive place, the design also needed to reflect that same upbeat energy in a compelling way. We landed on a design direction that was bright, lively, and rich in imagery, that would bring the hospital’s personality into the site.

We also determined that the primary audience of the site was the caregivers of potential patients.  Although the content across the site would be relevant and easy to find for other audiences, the content, tone, and approach needed to be targeted to the caregivers, to give them the reassurance and clear direction they need.   One of the key strategies for creating this targeting was to tell the stories of current and past patients and to help caregivers see what life at Craig was like.  With an approach in place, we moved on to execution.  

Solution

Craig Hospital is unique because it focuses on two specific types of injuries — injuries to the spine and brain.  It has a very specific story to tell, and a large part of that story revolves around their patients.  We crafted a patient story template that provides space to tell the story of an individual patient’s experience and success, and places a strong emphasis on imagery and video.  There are a few key background components that are included in the template to help frame the story, but the Craig team also has the flexibility to add any additional modules they feel they might need.  These modules might include quotes, media galleries, and treatment highlights.  This framework makes it easy to browse through and view multiple stories at a time or to dive into content about a related department or treatment.  

Craig Hospital is an incredibly inspiring place that has photo opportunities around every corner.  Knowing that they have a photographer and videographer in-house allowed us to pursue a highly visual design approach that included placing large imagery front and center on the site.  This compelling imagery helped us make the emotional connection with users and give their patients a face and a story. Video can also be incorporated easily across the site.

The site’s responsive design means that it works well across all devices, so whether a caregiver is at home on her laptop, or in a hospital room using a mobile phone, she gets a clear, easy experience.

We also leveraged the Craft content management system for this redesign.  Craft worked well for Craig Hospital because it comes with a large amount of functionality out of the box and makes it easy to add and manage content.  Additionally, using Matrix fields, we were able to provide the Craig team with a modular approach to many of the interior pages which allowed them to build their own pages using designed modules.  This gave the team the flexibility and capability to use existing site design to make pages outside of the standard set of templates more exciting and engaging.  

Our extensive preliminary research and thoughtful design approach enabled us to create a new online home for Craig Hospital that not only tells the story of Craig’s unique culture and inspiring patient community, but also meets the specific technological and navigational needs of the site’s primary audience of patient caregivers.

It was a privilege to have the opportunity transform the online experience of an organization that does so much to transform the lives of its patients and patient families.

Project Team: Project Manager Jason Sperling, UX Designer and Project Manager Laura Sweltz, Designer Blair Culbreth, and Front End Developer Megan Zlock.