Bill Watts - May 02, 2016
WJWatts Consulting recently completed a six-month project for a network of hospitals and healthcare providers headquartered in Dayton OH. The project presented several interesting challenges and dilemmas but resulted in a successful completion.
The Dayton healthcare network uses its public website for many purposes, including distribution of general health information (such as health and wellness tips) to the community. Much of the content is created and curated in-house, using Ektron as the website Content Management System.
In its website, the healthcare network wanted to create a new section that would allow users to browse articles based on their specific demographic and interests. For example, a user could select "All Heart Health Articles for Middle-Aged Women", "All Diet & Nutrition Articles for Teenagers", "All Cancer-related Articles for Retirees", etc. Users would be able to find the information that is most pertinent to them, significantly increasing the website's value to the user (and strengthening the user's positive experience and perception).
In Ektron, content can be associated with many topics - one article might fall under both the Heart Health and the Diet & Nutrition categories. This interconnected network of content would allow users to browse a wide range of information and topics - an initial starting point in Vascular Health might lead a user to important Fitness & Exercise information - providing users with an even more valuable experience.
The internal software development team didn't have the bandwidth to implement this new functionality, so they partnered with WJWatts Consulting on the project. The first step was a survey of the software environment. This uncovered several technical challenges:
- There was no development environment. Development and debugging were often done on the production web server, in the production web site.
- There was no source control or code repository.
- Due to issues with the Ektron CMS, Visual Studio was not used for editing code. Code edits were done in a standard text editor.
- In the production environment, the uncompiled CodeFiles for the aspx web pages were not in the same directory as the aspx files themselves. In fact, the CodeFiles were in several different random IIS Virtual Directories. Often, a CodeFile was named differently than its aspx file or was shared across several aspx files in multiple websites. It was extremely difficult to determine what CodeFile was actually used with each aspx file.
Before development could begin on the actual website functionality, WJWatts Consulting executed a "Development Environment" project to resolve these issues and modernize the overall software development methodology.
Following completion of the "Development Environment" project, the website work could begin. Openfield Creative, a Cincinnati strategy and marketing firm, designed the layout for the new section of the website and built several static HTML and CSS templates based on that design. WJWatts Consulting converted that static HTML and CSS into a functional website through:
- Extensive usage of Ektron Smart Forms and Taxonomies.
- Software development involving ASP.Net, the Ektron API and templated server controls, and Ektron database tables for optimal web page display capabilities.
- Integration with ExactTarget broadcast email - website users can select topics that are interesting to them and then receive a monthly email with any updated content.
- Many meetings and review sessions with content managers, to ensure that the website was presenting the content correctly.
This development work, and a huge content-generation project, resulted in an excellent website:
Women. Wisdom. Wellness.
This Dayton healthcare network has a distinct competitive advantage because of its custom software, and website users can benefit greatly from this implementation. The website allows users to acquire valuable health information and develop a better relationship their healthcare provider, a beneficial outcome for everyone involved. It was a great project for WJWatts Consulting, and everyone at the client was wonderful to work with, hopefully this is just the beginning of a long-lasting partnership.