The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) was formed on 1 July 2018, merging the Colchester and Ipswich hospitals. On the same day, we proudly launched their new website.
Having worked with the Colchester branch of the NHS before, the project had some familiar aspects, just with a new proposition. As the two local hospital trusts merged, a new website would replace the previous two independent sites. This would contain information on both of the hospitals and the NHS services in the local area, which could have potentially become confusing to users. ESNEFT tasked WDL with designing and developing a website that would:
In any project kick-off meeting we will look to clarify the target audience or the most likely website users. The NHS is, of course, an exception to this. According to the NHS Confederation, the National Health Service deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours. Staggering statistics to say the least. You expect many patients to access a hospital’s website, perhaps they want to see which services or departments are available, or need information about their appointment, while friends and family may be looking at the very same site to find out about car parking, how to get there and visiting times. The fact is, while you would expect the majority of users to be adults, there is no clearly-defined, recognised, user group.
Bearing this in mind, the information architecture for ESNEFT needed careful and considerate planning. Knowing there would be a vast volume of information on the website, making the search bar the key and most prominent feature of the homepage presented itself as the most logical and user-friendly approach. Through discussions with key members of the ESNEFT team, we were also able to gauge what the most common visits to the website would be, and this dictated homepage calls to action.
Referring back to a key target of the website; to enable visitors to find relevant information quickly, IA planning resulted in an A-Z of services listing, which gives instant access to services via an alphabet menu.
In the case of ESNEFT, function and usability was put before form. Utilising the established NHS branding and following relevant brand guidelines ensured the website was very easily recognised as an NHS site by the general population.
The site had to be accessible to all, and the simplistic design ensures this is the case. During the design stage, prominence was given to key features, such as the search bar, homepage CTAs and the A-Z services listing. It was also decided that the footer would be kept clean and only feature access-related and legal links, such as ‘Contact us’ and ‘Freedom of information’.
With the necessary accessibility features being present on desktop, it was important this was transferred not only to mobile, but all devices.
“I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the team at WDL. Not only are they are extremely professional and easy to get along with, but most importantly they are very good at what they do. They have taken our outline ideas and put them into practice better than we had imagined, offering helpful and positive suggestions based on their expertise and experience whenever we got stuck.”
Head of Digital and Engagement
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust
When it came to the build of the new ESNEFT website, there were numerous functionality and accessibility elements that needed that extra TLC. Not only did we design the website so that it was attractive and easy to use for fully-abled visitors, but we also ensured the website was fully compliant with ‘Level A’ of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).