Polar Design is very pleased to announce the launch of its most recent site, created for the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), an agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In a previous blog post, we discussed a few of the innovative ways that government websites are reaching out to their stakeholders. CHIA is one such government agency: their new website aims to present their vast and varying data sets in ways best suited to each of their target audiences. In addition, the redesign needed to provide ease of navigation and clear calls-to-action in order to help any user find what he or she is looking for.
When discussing the goals for this new healthcare website with CHIA, Polar Design realized that first and foremost, CHIA was a data-driven organization, and thus, had the unique need of presenting and managing their myriad data efficiently. The principal challenge in this case was this: the data defied simple categorization.
Collaborating together, the Polar and CHIA teams came up with a “Stories” approach wherein the site would be comprised of three audience-specific channels. The main channel, Info, serves as an introduction to the many facets of CHIA’s offerings. The Data channel serves as the stepping stone to accessing many different types of data, and the Admin channel provides users with information on CHIA as an agency. The Info channel in particular allows cross linking of articles and data between the “Stories” thus providing different visitors with different search strategies easy access to information that does not always fall into a neat heirarchy.
This innovation in structure helps organize CHIA’s offerings and give each of its audience types the direction to find the information they want. For example, researchers and those in academia want to access data on various topics. The Data channel breaks down CHIA’s available data via sections such as hospitals, payments and expenditures, costs reports and finance, etc. For healthcare providers and insurance companies, some of this data will be relevant, but they will also want to visit the Info channel to see CHIA’s analysis on the MA healthcare landscape including costs, quality and access to care. Legislators and policymakers will probably focus more on key bits of information rather than entire datasets, so the Info and Admin channels are most useful to them. Overall, the breakdown of channels and “stories” within those channels gives CHIA the opportunity to effectively reach each of their audience types.
Beyond presenting the data, CHIA needed a robust yet easy way to manage their data on a regular basis. To address this, Polar Design implemented SilverStripe as their Content Management System, thus allowing the CHIA team direct access to an easy-to-navigate backend interface. The CHIA admin can update content such as photos and text, create pages, rearrange the site tree, and upload new datasets at any time. This ability to make changes directly and update them in real time gives CHIA a freedom with their site that many organizations do not have. It allows the website to stay relevant and accurate without requiring external resources or additional costs to the organization. SilverStripe CMS was the best way to create a quality site capable of handling CHIA’s large amount of information while also allowing for flexibility and ease of use.
CHIA and Polar Design also felt it was essential to create a site that looked clean, professional and engaging. Polar Design knew it was important to construct a responsive design for the site, which means that the CHIA site is accessible on mobile, tablet, and all desktop resolutions. Responsive design has been proven to retain more site visitors than non-responsive design, and given the range in audience members, was an important factor is developing the website. Furthermore, the design and colors are crisp, easy to understand, and draw the user in. Website visitors will find the design of this site very appealing.