The Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) was conceived and organized in 1977 and formally established in 1985. Although headquartered in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons building in Rosemont, Illinois, OTA is a stand-alone organization, managed by a staff of 10.
The organization’s membership includes more than 2,000 medical professionals who work in the field of musculoskeletal trauma injury in the United States, Canada and around the world. Members are academic and clinical orthopaedic surgeons, residents, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, researchers and other allied health professionals.
A website reflects every facet of an organization’s brand. Even groups with robust IT and communications departments do not launch a redesign without some trepidation. Success depends on the entire association’s involvement. From the CEO to the most junior staff member, everyone needs to be ready to give extra effort, creativity and commitment to get the job done successfully.
Like many newer organizations, OTA’s staff was lean but efficient. There was no IT department and no employees who had IT as their sole responsibility. Consultants would need to identify strategies to help the small staff cope with the additional tasks this project would generate.
OTA’s physician base had been rapidly growing. Members didn’t feel their current site reflected the vibrant organization they aspired to create. They were excited about the redesign process and adding many of the bells and whistles that they saw when they visited their favorite online communities and brands. Staff was frustrated by a platform that did not allow for flexibility in design or graphics. In addition to looking out-of-date, OTA’s site was slow to load, not compatible with mobile devices and built on an unstable platform. An even larger issue was the fact that no one could explain why the site seemed to be invisible to search engines.
Content creation and management was another significant area where advice and improvement was critical. Information was not intuitively arranged, making it difficult for visitors to explore the site or find what they were seeking. Since best practices for communicating on the internet change rapidly, the staff also needed to be updated on the latest techniques.
.orgSource’s goal, as consultants, was to understand OTA as thoroughly as a trusted employee and to approach the redesign with an insider’s care and enthusiasm. We were also committed to identifying a vendor who would provide the comprehensive range of services required by a growing organization with limited staff resources, including:
- Oversight for all IT functions involved in supporting the site
- Ongoing maintenance and upgrades
- Hosting, monitoring uptime and site load times, and responding to issues
- Integrating with other platforms such as OTA’s Knowledge Portal, which was being developed by the publisher of the organization’s journal
After in-depth reviews of the staffs’ requirements, .orgSource prepared an RFQ which was circulated to prospective vendors. As responses arrived, we organized the vetting process and walked employees through a comparative analysis of each proposal. A small group of vendors was invited to demonstrate their products. When the winning bidder was selected, .orgSource assessed the contract to ensure that it met OTA’s budget and technical requirements.
Developing new, exciting and well-organized content was a multi-step process. A content strategy survey was the starting point. Key staff and members were asked to identify OTA’s various audiences and to pinpoint the type of information each group would be interested in receiving.
The survey was followed by a card sort exercise. Participants categorized and labeled the information into separate buckets. The goal was to create a site architecture that would be logical and intuitive for visitors. A content strategy workshop brought all the pieces together for fine-tuning. Staff was provided with tools and templates to help them decide which information from the old site to delete, revise or augment. .orgSource also organized a tutorial on effective writing for the web so that the copy would be as contemporary as the site’s new visuals.
In order to ensure that the new site would be easy to find, .orgSource’s technical detectives investigated and identified the coding problems that were causing OTA to be overlooked by search engines. Consultants also offered tips on how to use keywords and other features of Search Engine Optimization to ensure that OTA remained at the top of the search results.
OTA’s site has a fresh professional look that matches its members’ aspirations for the organization. The site’s improved architecture makes it easy for visitors to find the information that they need. The staff has the flexibility to add interesting graphics as well as video. In phase two, the website will integrate with OTA’s Knowledge Portal, which will improve the journal’s impact and further support members in their continuing education. This site should serve OTA well into the future because the new vendor is ready to help staff manage the content and make software updates as initiatives and plans develop.