Duke Cancer Institute

Redesigning for Efficient Content Management

Duke Cancer Institute Homepage

The Challenge 

Duke Cancer Institute's (DCI) current website was in dire need of a redesign. The lack of defining a primary audience, an outdated design, and repeated elements within the site's architecture made the site difficult to navigate. Additionally, a number of the organization's Cancer Centers existed as separate microsites, often with entirely different designs and structures.

Our Approach 

To organize the vast content, we shifted the site's structure and navigation from an audience-based approach to a content-focused one to help users find what they need. Rather than having individual microsites, we created a custom page template, allowing all Cancer Centers to present their information within a consistent design.

The Results 

By bringing the Cancer Centers under the main site, the DCI team can efficiently process incoming requests for content to be added and determine where it should live in the new site structure.

A collaborative powerhouse

Home to more than 400 researchers and physicians, Duke Cancer Institute (DCI) is at the center of a world-renowned university and medical center. With its six locations, DCI sees more than 23,000 new cancer patients from every state in the nation each year. Moreover, DCI has established significant clinical and research partnerships in India, Tanzania, China, Singapore, and throughout the United States.

Time to upgrade

The former iteration of the DCI website was developed quite some time ago and had grown considerably through periodic additions, including our team supporting some technical triage with another agency's design almost four years prior. This expansion resulted in a disorganized website that users found challenging to navigate. Additionally, the Institute's multiple Cancer Centers existed as separate microsites, often with entirely different structures and designs, contributing to a disjointed user experience.

A complete redesign was needed to bring the different Cancer Centers under the main DCI site and to provide a consistent look and feel for each. Furthermore, the new website needed to effectively serve the Institute's primary audience - professionals and researchers, while accommodating the needs of patients, job seekers, and donors. Given our successful history with DCI's past projects, their team entrusted us with the responsibility of leading this redesign initiative.

Defining objectives

Our initial efforts consisted of different discovery activities to ensure we fully grasped the problems that needed addressing in the redesign. We facilitated a spectrum poll to align our team with the stakeholders' vision for the site. Lastly, we ran an extensive navigational exercise that spanned multiple weeks. This process shifted the entire website from a self-segmentation navigational approach to a content-focused approach, enabling visitors to locate the information they needed without having to first determine which audience category they fell into, a system that previously caused confusion due to overlapping user groups and content needs.

Duke Cancer Institute Spectrum Poll

Designing for flexibility

Dukecancerinstitute.org pulls in data from member and clinical trials via a custom API. Since the API would remain a part of the final product, this required us to understand the format of the incoming data and what control we had over it. Due to the level of technical customization needed, we opted to use Drupal as the site’s CMS. Our designers collaborated closely with our developers to construct reusable page templates and components to support these different data configurations as well as any text-based content uploaded by the DCI team.

Page templates for Duke Cancer Institute

Uniting the Centers

We created a standardized page template - 'The Center' for all Cancer Centers- eliminating the need for individual microsites. This feature-rich template features tabs tailored to showcase information common to each Center and can be displayed or hidden based on the specific content a Center wishes to share. This design effectively moved all Cancer Centers onto the same platform while providing each one its unique space on the website, ensuring their content is well-organized and readily accessible.

Duke Cancer Institute Center homepage

Ready for the future

The success of this project can be largely attributed to our team's expertise in handling large-scale projects both from a design and development perspective. Even before the site's official launch, the DCI team effectively managed requests for new content to be added and determined where it should live within the site’s structure, solidifying the notion that the platform will serve them well in the coming months and years.

Branding for Duke Cancer Institute