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Building a Better Experience for The James

March 2nd, 2015 1:06 pm

Last year, M&C Saatchi asked us to design the user experience, visual layer and overall messaging for the redesign of Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Care Center, The James Hospital.

We were thrilled at the opportunity to create an experience that could help patients and caregivers at a critical and vulnerable time in their lives. The James is one of the country’s leading cancer and research hospitals and one of one of twenty-one Comprehensive Cancer hospitals in the country.

Biggest Design Challenge

Sometimes the biggest design challenge is not an image, color or function, it’s a word.

A challenge with The James was finding the right word or phrase for their largest area of content, Cancer Care & Treatment, under Cancer Specialties. This is where the “meat” of the site lives, so to speak. It contains in-depth information on each type of cancer The James treats, latest research and prevention, as well as the team of professionals, locations and outcomes specific to The James. There’s so much information that each type of cancer could be thought of as a site in itself.

We had at least three distinct audiences at The James: one, patients and caregivers, two physicians and nurses, and three, researchers. These audiences come to the site with very different backgrounds in the subject, as well as vastly different emotional states. Our nomenclature had to be meaningful to all of them.

Patients could mistake a title like Cancer Care for a more general bucket that is just a few pages on how The James treats cancer as a whole. Researchers could mistake the section as a place that only applied to patients.

The Solve

First we used personas developed from in-person interviews to do a deep-dive into the needs, backgrounds and expectations of each of our audience segments. Then we looked at how other organizations categorized their information, to see if there was a consensus that had already been reached – not really. After narrowing down our choices, we presented our recommendation to our client. We then further refined the phrases with our main stakeholders and tested the navigation with a remote user sample.

From there we landed on Cancer Specialties > Cancer Care & Treatment, which ultimately tested well during our in-person usability study.


The proof is in the pudding, however; and we anxiously await metrics and feedback to see if our audience easily and quickly find what they are looking for.

To Sum It Up

It was an honor to be a partner in telling The James’ story. Everyday, the people at The James help and care for patients as well as advancing cancer research globally.

Along with completely re-architecting the information and navigation, we improved the tools and functions, making finding a doctor, a clinical trial or an event seamless. We totally re-imagined the design layer, updating the site using The James’ modern, clean aesthetic and designing responsive versions of each screen.

In, we added personal touches, such as profile callouts within the main navigation, highlighting the fantastic team of doctors, nurses, caregivers and volunteers who help those who need it most.

Finally, we implemented several rounds of usability testing, recruiting cancer patients and their caregivers, as well as the hospital’s doctors and researchers to test the new design and functionality. We iterated on those findings, further refining the user experience.


The new site launched last month, please check it out!

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1 Comment

March 6th, 2015 6:02 pm
Posted by Paula Campos
Great project!

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