Building a better website

Building a better website

UF, Shands to reform Web presence

By April Frawley Birdwell

The UF&Shands Academic Health Center has launched an initiative to rebuild its presence on the Web, an effort aimed at making Health Science Center and Shands websites more consistent and easier for patients to use.

“We need to present a better face to the public,” said Kari Cassel, M.B.A., chief information officer for UF&Shands. “An easy-to-use website for our patients, visitors, students, faculty and staff is critical to all of our missions and to keeping patients at the center of what we are doing.”

Between the UF Health Science Center and Shands HealthCare, there are thousands of Web pages, each containing information about the various activities and people that make up UF&Shands. Unfortunately, these sites are not consistent in look and feel, and the information contained in them is not always updated or easy to find. In some cases, the same information appears in multiple places, potentially confusing the patients, visitors and potential faculty, staff and students who visit these sites.

To address the issue, a steering committee composed of leaders from across both UF and Shands was formed to develop a new strategy for how UF&Shands will be represented on the Web.

The committee’s charge includes establishing coordinated policies and procedures; devising a seamless look and feel for HSC and Shands sites; and developing a new patient-centric site to represent the UF&Shands Academic Health Center, which includes Shands HealthCare and the UF Health Science Center and its six colleges.

The ultimate goal is to make Web resources more user-friendly and accessible and to represent the coordinated breadth of the enterprise.

Five subcommittees were formed to help direct these efforts in specific areas. Composed of staff and faculty members from UF and Shands HealthCare, the subcommittees include: Branding, Design and Navigation; CMS and Tools; Technical and Security Environment; Policies and Procedures; and Content.

These subcommittees are currently meeting and devising recommendations to present to the steering committee, which will present its proposals to UF and Shands leadership this spring.

The plan dovetails with universitywide efforts to overhaul UF’s Web presence, said Melanie Fridl Ross, M.S.J., a co-chair of the steering committee and director of HSC News & Communications.

“The Web is our window to the world, and we want to present what we have to offer in a way that best meets the needs of our patients and serves as a useful resource for our faculty, staff and students,” Ross said.

As the initiative takes shape, faculty, staff and students will be asked for input on their preferences. In addition, anyone who would like to become involved is encouraged to call HSC News & Communications at 352-273-5810 or Shands Marketing and Public Relations at 352-265-0373.