Childhood Disability LINK: non-profit directory of healthcare information

Childhood Disability LINK is a non-profit research group within Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). The group’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of children with disabilities and their families. They aim to do so through providing information for caregivers, practitioners, and families of children with disabilities.

Childhood Disability LINK has been a client of ours since 2012. For this last project, they needed us to modernize their website’s visual design and make the site more engaging as well as improve the information architecture all the while combining and condensing the content from two other microsites.


  • What we did: Strategy, User research, Usability testing, Information architecture, Web design, Web development, Wordpress web development, Front-end web development
  • Project features: Bilingual website, Comprehensive search feature, Responsive web design, Robust filter system
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    The Challenges

    • improve site’s engagement metrics
    • create visually compelling design for text-heavy content
    • combine content from three websites and organize it in an easy-to-navigate way
    • ensure that site features align with audience and organizational goals

    The Results

    • 20% reduction in bounce rate
    • 87.20% increase in session duration
    • 36.80% increase in pageviews per session

    The Solutions

    First and foremost, we conducted an ethnography study with the site’s audience of clinicians and parents of children with disabilities. We wanted to find out what obstacles they face, what technology they’re using, what their mental models are and what their goals are when they’re searching for information online. This allowed us to determine the most helpful way to categorize information for our audience to be able to find information quickly; the essential site features to develop and the most pertinent information to include for the audience to achieve their goals and have a positive experience using the site; as well as develop a number of guiding principles to keep in mind through the design and development process.

    Childhood Disability LINK website homepage

    In the interest of quickly serving up relevant information, we offered two basic methods for locating information: by diagnosis or through a prominent search feature. Content type archives, as well as search results, can also be quickly filtered by diagnosis and/or another pertinent taxonomy. We made sure to include engaging content like videos that allow parents to quickly grasp more complex therapeutic practices and concepts. We also created a section for displaying online communities where parents can find support. While viewing any specific diagnosis archive, the visitors are able to sign up for RSS-based notifications when new pertinent content it added so they don’t have to keep coming back to the site but the organization can still engage with them.

    Childhood Disability LINK diagnosis-based notification sign-up

    In order to keep the design visually engaging, we developed a system of simple to understand icons for easily scanning through content in search results. An optional featured image can be applied instead of the standard icon when such an image exists (rare in the case of clinical research). We also applied the organization’s brand colours to create a few colour conventions that, at the very least, bring visual interest and also allow for easy scanning through mixed content types. The same iconographic and colour system was applied to social media share images to bring more visual interest when content it shared around the web.

    Childhood Disability LINK search results page

    On the side of the organization, we included features that meet their goals as well. Aside from newsletter sign-up forms and social media account links we also provided a convenient way for folks to suggest interesting content for inclusion in this directory of links. We also included a simple way to report any broken links which will save the organization time on upkeep and maintenance. Finally, we offered a way for the organization to highlight their achievement and news about their work without the burden of running a full blog.

    Childhood Disability LINK report broken link dialogue

    To finish things off we conducted two rounds of usability testing to confirm that we properly applied our findings from the ethnography study. We then did one last round of revisions that addressed issues identified in the first round of testing and confirmed that we indeed solved those issues with the second round of usability testing.

    The final website was rated 4.33/5 by our usability testing participants (5 being extremely easy to use and 0 being extremely difficult to use). We were also able to decrease the average task completion time by 64% when compared with the first round of usability testing.