Sometimes what you think your users want isn’t actually what your users want at all.

The American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (ABOHNS) is the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) certifying board for otolaryngologists in the United States. The ABOHNS maintains a website for certified physicians, fellows, residents, residency program administrative support, and the public. In 2019, they engaged Digital Wave to redesign a new public-facing website for their internal and external users.

Here’s what we did:

1. We facilitated five focus groups to discover what users really wanted from the public site. What we learned in our up-front discovery process was unexpected, and changed the course of the entire project: not a single attendee cared one bit about the public site. It was basically unused–either users just didn’t visit the site, or they didn’t even know it existed. We discovered that users mostly passed through the website to access the internal portal.

This surprise meant we needed to shift gears and change our approach to include what users actually cared about.

2. Our flexible scope model allows for unexpected surprises, like this one, both in terms of discovery and for the project overall. In the end, we gave ABOHNS users what they really wanted–and needed–from a user experience standpoint. Our designers also ensured that the trappings of the portal matched the new public-facing site.

Our work was driven more by user input, and less by what the team envisioned for the initial launch.

3. The new site launched this summer with a modern, clean look. The homepage is short, simple, and to the point, with important dates featured prominently–just as users requested. We reduced content and “fluff,” and removed anything not directly in support of users’ objectives or the site’s purpose. There is a clear focus on value and utility for all stakeholders and patient/caregiver trust.

The challenges that come with redesigning websites can be overwhelming and sometimes these jobs take unexpected turns. Contact us to find out more about the strategies Digital Wave uses when approaching these projects.