Executing a Complete Website Overhaul for University of Illinois Cancer Center

The University of Illinois Cancer Center is a research institution in Chicago, Illinois comprised of more than 220 Cancer Center member physicians and scientists. It serves patients across Cook County, which is home to over 40% of the state’s population, and is also a federally-designated Medically Underserved Area (MUA).

Key Goals

In 2020, the University of Illinois Cancer Center set out to achieve its goal of National Cancer Institute designation. A key component of designation is its website, which must highlight its “rigorous standards for transdisciplinary, state-of-the-art research focused on developing new and better approaches to preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.”

Other key goals included driving more traffic to their website and increasing Cancer Center membership.

The Challenges

Achieving NCI designation requires a strict timeline, meaning the Cancer Center website launch had an expedited timeline, as well. Critical aspects to this goal included adherence to Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) sections, guidelines, and research priorities.

The previous website offered limited information on research programs, clinical trials, and the Cancer Center’s dedication to health equity. It also did not adhere to ADA guidelines.

University of Illinois Cancer Center website before and after

Actions/Tasks:

To understand their strategic priorities, the CareContent team:

  • Audited and reviewed analytics for 120 page links and over 60 published pages
  • Assessed 5 similar websites
  • Conducted 27 discovery interviews with stakeholders

The purpose of the discovery period is to develop a thorough understanding of how the site’s content and design can best serve the organization’s strategic goals and the needs of the key audiences: Clinicians/Researchers, Community Partners/Advocates, and Donors.

The target audiences — including the key information and tasks they need and expect — should drive content production, design, and user experience. Before any mockups were designed or content was written, content and user experience were clearly defined.

The CareContent team produced more than 40 pages of new content. A consistent, communicative feedback loop allowed the CareContent team to ensure that deliverables reflected the content priorities of the organization’s senior leaders and Cancer Center members.

After the website launch, CareContent has continued to maintain the website, including:

  • Ongoing maintenance to ensure optimal functionality
  • Video production
  • Monthly content production

Accomplishments

The University of Illinois Cancer Center website launched on December 15, 2020. The content-first approach has supported the organization’s ambitious growth goals, leading to several key indicators of success:

Website Launch

From December 2020 to January 2021, the number of:

  • New users increased 512.25%, and returning users increased 1,354.84%.
  • Page views increased 685.05% and unique pageviews increased 660.55%.
  • Organic search referrals increased 519.54%.

Early Growth

From December 2020 to March 2021, the average rate of growth for:

  • New users was 5% and 21.5% for returning users.
  • Page views and unique page views was 10%.
  • Organic research referrals was 5.5%.

Ongoing Maintenance

From April 2021 to October 2021, the average rate of growth for:

  • New users was at least 6.5%.
  • Returning users was at least 3%.
  • Page views and unique page views was at least 5%.
  • Organic search referrals was at least 4.5%.

Search Engine Optimization

In 2021, organic search was the primary route users have used to access the site.

ADA Compliance Review

The CareContent team engaged with a third-party vendor to review the site for ADA compliance. The goal of the review was to ensure that users of varying physical and cognitive abilities could effectively access the site.