Thursday, March 3, 2016

USA Health System Launches New Website Design

The University of South Alabama Health System recently optimized its website for mobile devices and improved the site's navigation and appearance.  The site, www.usahealthsystem.com, which provides information for patients, clinicians, researchers, employees and students, re-launched Feb. 11, 2016.

Bernell Dorrough, assistant director of web marketing for USA College of Medicine and USA Physician’s Group, said the website re-design project started in June 2015. The change in design was prompted by the need for responsiveness, easier navigation and a more modern appearance.

The largest change was making the new website responsive.  Now, the website will automatically adjust to fit any device, a feature the previous website design lacked. Whether someone accesses the site from a desktop computer, tablet or a smartphone, the new site adjusts to fit the size of the screen.

"Google announced last year that it receives more search queries in the United States on mobile devices than on PCs. The company also began giving better search rankings to pages that are optimized for mobile devices,” Dorrough explained. “On the USA Health System's website year-to-date, more than 40 percent of our visitors were using smartphones or tablets."

In addition to responsiveness, the site is now easier to navigate. The previous website design had several points of navigation-- top, left side and sometimes even on the right side of the page. The new site provides a more intuitive design by removing the right-hand navigation bar on all pages and displaying fewer tabs on the navigation bars.

Dorrough said virtually every element of the design was updated including fonts, colors and graphical elements. The goal was to create a more visually appealing and professional site that would make a great first impression on the user. “Designing a website for a health system can be challenging because it caters to a multitude of audiences,” Dorrough said. “The main focus for the new design was to visually reflect the excellence in education, patient care and research.”

The new, user-friendly website design is built on the content of the old site. It incorporates USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, USA College of Medicine, USA Medical Center, USA Physicians Group and USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.

Dorrough maintains the site as a whole and manages the top-level pages. The majority of the pages on the site are updated by page editors from individual departments. Dorrough will be leading training sessions for the page editors in the coming weeks. During the sessions, he will show editors how to update the content on their pages and discuss the site’s new style guidelines.

During the next few months, the site will continue to be optimized to ensure the new design is functioning to its full potential.

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