Projects that can wait, do wait. It’s an adage we’ve all lived. In busy organizations, a website overhaul may fall into that category. But if you ask the staff of the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE), they will tell you that a sleek new site that reflects a name change for the organization and it’s certification program and runs as smoothly as a Ferrari, is the best reason to carve out time for this significant initiative.
CEO, Sheryl Traficano, was eager to make it easier for constituents to earn the organization’s coveted CDCES credential.
“With both a new organization and certification program name in 2020, plus a site design from 2012, the time was definitely right for a redesign of the website,” says Cheryl. “We wanted the site to have a more modern look, help candidates more easily understand certification, and support certificants with a portal that allowed them to keep track of their certification status and easily renew. Almost as important was the fact that the site was also hard for staff to manage because it was built on an outdated platform. We needed to start fresh with a fully redesigned website. Being a small staff, it was especially important for CBDCE to have help throughout the website vendor selection and build process. We hired .orgSource to assist us because of their extensive knowledge and experience with these types of projects. ”
A Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) plays a pivotal role providing people with diabetes (PWD) with care and education, and .orgSource consultants Jane Pearson, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Services and Dawn Briskey, Vice President Client Services, were eager to help the organization better support the site’s visitors, whether those visitors were health professionals pursuing or renewing certification or PWD looking for a CDCES to support their wellness goals.
Because the site had not had an update in several years, the code was tied in knots and the navigation was liable to take users on a maze-like journey. Individuals looking for information about becoming certified, as well as those needing to maintain their certification status, often found it challenging to quickly find the information they needed to take the next step on the path to certification.
Start with a Great Team
As consultants, Jane and Dawn brought distinct skills to the table. Dawn’s passion for systems and logistics would ensure a solid technology foundation for the website. While Jane’s deep knowledge of branding and market positioning would support the development of an effective content strategy. But the most important members of this team were the CBDCE staff whose understanding of the certification process and their constituents would guide the consultants and the vendors in their work.
“One reason this initiative went so smoothly,” Dawn notes, “was because CBDCE knows their business inside out. The people who needed to be involved in the discussion were always in the room. Sheryl, Michele Luckman, Certification Program Manager, and Susan Hall, Marketing Manager, were completely focused on the project. They were hands-on in the best possible way. ”
Explore the Landscape
“We begin every initiative with a discovery process,” Jane explains. “Our goal is to walk in our client’s shoes and to get to know their business as if it were our own. I conducted interviews with several certificants and talked with the volunteer outreach committee and the staff. My objective was to learn everything I could about diabetes care and education specialists and the steps involved in achieving certification and the renewal process so that we could develop a user experience tailored to their needs.”
“A card sort was another important phase in this process. It’s a simple activity designed to arrive at a complex outcome. Users create cards (either virtual or physical) representing categories of information and content. The cards are arranged based on how participants perceive their hierarchy and relationships. Results are reviewed and refined until everyone agrees on a user roadmap for the system, or the website architecture.”
“Before we could write the request for proposals to select vendors, I had to understand exactly how the current technology was functioning,” Dawn recalls. “I discovered something unusual. Most constituent databases reside outside the web and connect to it via a link. CBDCE’s database was built into the web platform. This made the technology more complex than we anticipated.”
“The database and the site had to remain in sync, and the fields in both systems had to be matched. All the data had to be accessible and searchable, and the architecture and systems needed to be crystal clear to the vendor. You don’t typically encounter those specifications in a website development project.”
“When I was at CBDCE’s office I was also struck by how often the phone rang. Many of the calls were related to services, such as changes in contact information, that could easily be handled online. So along with the certification requirements, we wanted to be sure that the new site would offer those efficiencies.”
Pay Attention to Chemistry
Once the technology and content requirements were finalized, vendor selection could begin. CBDCE would need to identify a web developer to design the site as well as a provider for the content management system, or the software that allows non-technical users to interact with the site and make additions and revisions.
Consultants often like to use vendors with whom they are already familiar. But in this case, the company and CMS that rose to the top of the vetting process was one that .orgSource had only worked with once before. The selected web developer, Thirdwave, LLC, had the asset of good chemistry with the client.
While rapport is always important, an unexpected twist in the timeline made it even more significant for this project. An affiliated organization, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, announced they were changing their name to the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists. This development would require CBDCE, known at the time as the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE), to also change their name. A new name opened an opportunity to rebrand and add value to the site by updating to a more clean, contemporary look. But with the project already underway, including a rebrand meant significant adjustments to the schedule.
Flexibility from the vendor and the consultants enabled the CBDCE team to budget their time wisely. Together, the group worked on moving ahead with complex technical issues, wireframes, and layouts while the new logo and design components were finalized. The result is a site that matches aesthetics with functionality and is worthy of high-fives and kudos all around.
“The website has such a fresh, modern look now,” Sheryl notes. “It’s also easy to use and navigate. While still in the learning phase regarding all that can be done on the platform, the staff enjoys the self-service tools and the fact that they can update it easily. It was very well received by the CDCES candidates, certificants and volunteer leaders. We achieved all of our initial objectives with this project and are grateful to our partners at .orgSource and ThirdWave. We look forward to continuing to adapt the site to support our certificants and CBDCE’s strategic priorities.”
Continue Learning and Growing
One of the perks of being a consultant is that you never stop growing. Every project brings opportunities for new knowledge. Jane explains, “Before working with CBDCE, I didn’t know about the importance of diabetes care and education. It was fascinating to discover this community, and take a deep dive into their world. They are keeping people living with diabetes and prediabetes healthier and supporting them in managing the disease. Writing the content for this website was a special privilege.”
“This project involved the kind of technical details that I enjoy managing,” Dawn notes. “The RFP process doesn’t always reveal important requirements. In this case, we had to be sure that everyone was on the same page about the complexity involved in having a certification program running through the website. CBDCE spent time sharing their existing screens and process with the ThirdWave team before the contract was signed. During development, ThirdWave was meticulous in creating wireframes to capture the desired experience. And staff performed detailed and significant tests to ensure that the technology was working perfectly. For me, the rigorous process of communicating every client need to the vendor, before the contract is signed, is highly rewarding.”
Learning is at the core of .orgSource’s mission. Each client has something important to teach us and every engagement sees us better prepared to solve the next challenge that comes our way. We are grateful for these opportunities to serve our community and position our clients for success.
CBDCE has six employees and is located in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Sheryl Traficano, MBA, CAE, is the CEO. The mission is to promote comprehensive and ongoing quality diabetes clinical management, education, prevention, and support by defining, developing, maintaining, and protecting the certification and credentialing processes.
In January 2020, the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE) changed its name to the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE).
NCBDE was established in 1986 as an independent organization to promote the interests of diabetes educators and the public at large by granting certification to qualified health professionals involved in teaching persons with diabetes, through establishment of eligibility requirements and development of a written examination. Since it was first awarded in 1986, the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) credential has become a standard of excellence for the delivery of quality diabetes education. The CDE is now known as the Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) credential.