Englewood Health: helping a 130 year old hospital stand strong in the information age

Englewood Health is one of New Jersey’s leading hospitals and healthcare networks.

Activated Studio has provided web development, strategy and WebOps for Englewood Health since 2017. Three areas of focus describe the work we’ve done for Englewood after taking over from their original developers:

We’ve enabled many new features and UX improvements that have helped Englewood Health broaden user engagement on their site. Since we’ve supported them, daily users of the site have grown by more than 66%.

About Englewood Health: Caring for Their Community Since 1890

Englewood Health delivers nationally recognized care to residents of northern New Jersey. Deeply embedded in the community since its founding in 1890, Englewood Health is committed to serving their patients across an ever-expanding slate of services and access points.

To provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art patient services; emphasize caring and other human values in the treatment of patients and in relations with their families, and among employees, medical staff, and community; be a center of education and research; and provide employees and medical staff with maximum opportunities to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Englewood Health Mission Statement

When the Covid-19 virus broke out in the region, Englewood Health system rallied to support their community. We helped them quickly create a banner on their homepage directing visitors to critical care services for the sick and health safety messages for the public. As the threat of the virus remains as real as ever, the hospital’s website has held up under unprecedented daily traffic, performing as an indispensible hub for Covid-19 information and updates.

Why Did Englewood Turn to Activated Studio?

Our involvement with Englewood began just three years ago. Another agency designed and built their WordPress site prior to our involvement. Later, a friend in the industry referred Englewood Hospital to us to help them get unstuck from a frustrating situation.

What was the primary issue that Englewood was facing before we were hired? The prior development team was taking far too long in turning around support requests. Minor things that Englewood’s marketing or technical team asked for would take weeks to be addressed. Substantial change requests requiring normal back and forth between dev team and the client would linger and lose momentum. There were important problems to resolve with the site. But the client lost faith in that development team to fix things in a timely and holistic manner.

Unfortunately, this complaint comes up all too frequently in our business. Once the main project (the site build) completes and deploys, too many design and development shops out there either lack leadership or capacity to plan and execute a meaningful support engagement.

Fortunately, we were able to demonstrate our history of successfully stepping in to projects under similar circumstances and delivering results. We quickly put together a roadmap for addressing the client’s most pressing needs. The client easily approved our time and budget estimate, and we dove in to the work.

A Treatment Plan for Englewood Hospital: Going Deep and Getting Wide

Within weeks of engaging with Englewood, we moved their hospital site to Pantheon.

We did this for two reasons.

  1. Pantheon’s optimized environment for hosting WordPress sites would make their site faster, more secure, and uber-reliable for uptime.
  2. Pantheon’s WebOps features help our dev team dig in and iterate rapidly. We especially love how easy it is to spin up multidev environments, where we can quickly hammer out bug fixes and prototype solutions for the client to review outside the production branch.

With that out of the way, we could work through our prioritized backlog with speed and clarity.

Restoring the Back End of the Site to Optimal Health

Behind the scenes, the back-end deliverables on our list included:

  • standardizing the theme structure so that design changes could be implemented the right way
  • consolidating the number of CSS files and reducing javascript errors
  • fixes to reduce potential for future javascript conflicts with wordpress or plugin updates going forward
  • Replaced javascript tabs with pages for the services section, so there was an optimized HTML document to be indexed for each sub-service in the services section (more on this below)
  • Setting up the proper structure for local SEO as well as the proper tagging
  • Reworking the API handling to be best practices for on-site encyclopedia of medical terms 3rd party service.
  • Resolving important crawl issues that would flag their site in Google as not being secure or trustworthy, by fixing all http image file references and updating to the https file path

Front End Changes: Making the Site More Navigable and Key Content More Visible

With the site now stabilized, optimized, and much more compliant to work with in the back end, we could work on items the end user could actually see with the naked eye. Several front end changes have proven to be big difference makers for how the site looks and reacts to user intention.

We expanding the global site width to 1280. This allow the client to use more of the prime real estate on desktop. We also helped the client reorganize aspects of the information architecture and layout that were non-intuitive.

With a wider site width, space opened up to add a third column on internal pages. In addition to a wider internal nav and the main content area, we added the optional ‘right rail’ for rich content and/or links. The client has taken full advantage of this opportunity to make each page more context rich.

Resolving a Key Content Strategy (and SEO) Issue

One of the biggest content strategy sins of the original site build was the decision to use javascript tabs for navigation of subcontent on a Service page.

Vertical tab functionality for internal navigation makes a poor trade-off. In exchange for the ability to swap content on-page (versus a new page load), having an entire Service section’s content live all on one sprawling page produces weak SEO and highly suspect usability.

Services Tabs
Before: Notice how the page URL stays the same no matter what menu item is chosen?

They also used a lot of ‘expand/collapse’ tabs within ‘subcontent’. That forces users into a tedious hide and seek game when trying to access content.

This content presentation (all on one page, navigable by tabs, expand and collapse content sections) overwhelms the reader with too many links. It’s too many separate topics under one roof, compounded by inadequate organizational cues.

  • the reader cannot scan the page’s full information all at once
  • there’s way too much information per page
  • there’s no way to share or bookmark specific page content
  • difficult to manage the the lengthy ‘subcontent’ on the admin layer

SEO Consequences, And How We Fixed Them

Even worse, Englewood was forfeiting valuable SEO value for their internal content. Google wants a well organized schema of information to index. There’s no good reason to not give important page content its own individual URL, title, meta value, menu items, etc. Don’t bury good content.

We helped the client transition pages out of the javascript tab wasteland. We created a manageable workflow for breaking the tabbed internal pages into deep sections of parent-child pages navigated by a multi-tiered menu system. Then we set up the proper structure for local SEO as well as the proper tagging.

Now the client benefits from an optimized HTML document, indexed for each sub-service in the Services section. This helps them rank for long tail key phrases. Also, each sub-service page feeds the overall authority of the main Service topic.

Services section after we got rid of javascript tabs
After: Notice the side navigation is an actual menu now, not just javascript driven vertical tabs. Each item loads a separate, indexable page, can be shared and bookmarked.

The proof is in the search results. Prior to our Service section changes, Google couldn’t find specific, indexable page urls to point to for simple search terms. Now if you search for a phrase like ‘Graf Center Fees’, the first result shows a rich snippet for relevant content.

Taking Action in 2017 Helped Englewood Health Meet the Covid-19 Challenge Today

When their site wasn’t getting the attention it deserved about three years ago, Englewood Health wisely moved on from their original development team. Credit goes to them for putting that episode behind them decisively. It was never their fault, but they took responsibility to seek an action-oriented team that communicates well.

Englewood Health gave us an opportunity to prove our worth, and we were ready to perform. The bug fixes, optimization work, and UX improvements listed in this case study only scratch the surface of the work we’ve delivered since we took over their hosting and support operations.

Across the board, Englewood Health’s site analytics tell a story of a sustained improvement in page views, user visits, and site engagement since we took over. When it really mattered—when the Covid-19 crisis exploded across Englewood Health’s beloved community in the spring of 2020—their website was up to the challenge.

“From providing support when needed to project leadership when asked, the Activated Studio team has always come through for us. We’ve been counting on Activated Studio for eight years to maintain several high-traffic websites in a competitive space, and have also engaged them for custom design/development projects. This crew does not disappoint. Not only have they enhanced our users’ frontend experience, improving engagement and search performance, they’ve also simplified and streamlined our backend experience, making all of our jobs easier. And we know Activated Studio has our back and will reply within minutes via slack or email if we need them. Where would we be without them? Don’t want to know.”

John W.

Englewood Health

Get in Touch

We’d love to hear from you and discuss your project.