Stanford Medicine Redesigns

As Lead Web Designer, Kevin built hundreds of sites on an infrastructure he developed, which saved $3 million and powered Stanford Medicine for 10 years.

Design Problems Addressed: The primary initial design problem related to branding coherence, as the Stanford School of Medicine had over 250 individual departmental and group sites in a variety of formats, some custom, but most in a frames-based legacy format. Additional problems involved the processes used to build and maintain the sites, expense of content management systems (CMSs) available at the time, and the lack of a central service to provide and control all of the growing site needs of the school. Stanford Hospital had it’s own infrastructure maintained in the Interwoven Teamsite CMS.

School of Medicine Home
Home page of the first unifying redesign of School of Medicine sites, implemented across about 250 sites. (click to view larger)
Home page of the second unifying redesign of school sites, implemented across about 600 sites by 2011. (click to view larger)
Stanford Cancer Center site from the second redesign. (click to view larger)
Flash-based hero design on the LKSC site, launched in the second major design.

Measuring Success: As the school web site operated in support of an academic institution rather than a commercial one, success could best be measured via user feedback, analytics of use and user engagement, and search index ranking. Because the school always had more applicants than could be enrolled, users were largely defined as Stanford faculty, staff and existing enrolled students.

Home page design for the department Kevin worked in, Information Resources & Technology. (click to view larger)

Process: In the initial four years at Stanford, Kevin began by engaging with existing site owners and authors to understand their needs and pain points. The frames-based standard format was an early target for revision. At the same time, he engaged with Engineering stakeholders to understand their challenges, and began contributing HTML and design support to efforts on internal software development.

In the first redesign, Kevin implemented a new design by inventing a novel technical infrastructure using server-side includes (SSIs), root referencing of resources, and provision of standardized resources at the root of every domain hosted by the school. This structure allowed primary common web page components such as headers, footers and page formats to be served from a central repository, while also distributing the custom content components to a small army of distributed site authors to build and maintain using Dreamweaver and Contribute software packages.

These core components could also be used by internal web software developers to ensure that all of the web sites, both content-oriented, and software tools, would have a common look and feel, easily maintained centrally. At the same time, Kevin introduced a more agile process for web software development, where he would create initial HTML prototypes before coding began, then used by Engineering to build the programmatic portions of the software, making the entire process more efficient and productive. He also built several hundred individual sites and guided the builds of several hundred more, and went on to conduct a second major and third minor redesign.

Community Academic Profiles is an internal social and scientific networking site for Faculty and students. (click to view larger)

Results: The infrastructure Kevin built brought order and coherence to the Stanford Medicine brand, through two redesigns and multiple important software projects. His work created one impressive web presence that saved the school more than $1 million in projected infrastructure cost plus yearly licensing, grew site use and engagement, got the school top rank in Google search for medical schools, and earned a college association award. The architecture he built served the school for over 10 years, was adopted by Stanford Hospital & Clinics and went on to power over 600 sites. It is still in use today on a number of those sites. In the process, he created and built the Web Help internal agency for site development that served hundreds of clients and resulted in promotion to Manager, Web Support & Training, with a staff of three web developers reporting to him.