AMA’s Website Redesign Puts Content Strategy First

To better serve its mission and its stakeholders, the American Medical Association created a new content strategy that provided the scaffolding for its website redesign. Here’s a look at how it was done.

If you came to the front door of my condo, you’d see chalk drawings on the cement stoop, dried out mums off to one side, and a gold, clearly DIY wreath that only partially obscures the sight of an indoor basketball hoop through the upper windows of the door.

When you think about it, a front door communicates a lot about a person. For instance, it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that the occupants of the condo included adults—whose green thumbs and decorating skills are lacking—as well as some young children.

In the same way, an association’s website says a lot about the association.

“The AMA website essentially serves as a front door for the organization—the nameplate,” said Justin DeJong, AMA’s VP of internal and external communications.

And two years ago, AMA realized that it needed to change its front door in order to better serve its key stakeholders. With feedback from research studies across the U.S. identifying what physicians and physicians-in-training wanted and needed from the AMA site, the association set to work formulating a new content strategy that provided a blueprint for its new site.

Assembling the team and establishing goals

“We started by building an enterprise team and an enterprise digital strategy that laid the groundwork for developing a customer-centric website,” DeJong said.

The team came up with big-picture goals, such as creating a best-in-class experience and capitalizing on the connectivity and interactivity of digital channels, in order to better fulfill its mission of engaging both the public and healthcare providers to improve the health of the nation.

“Our previous website was essentially structured based on business unit silos in the organization, but there was very little customer centricity in our approach,” DeJong said. “So as a first step, we established an enterprise digital content team—an online team—to essentially rethink how the organization approached our content in a user-centric way.”

Creating the content strategy

“A great deal of website strategy is content strategy,” DeJong said. “How you organize the content based on how the user would discover that content. We went through a very iterative phase in designing our information architecture to shift our website organization from different silos to user-centric content buckets.”

To do so, the enterprise team culled through 4,000-some web pages and narrowed the content down to roughly 500 pages. They did the same with more than 20,000 documents that were crowding the former site.

“As we worked to redevelop content for the site, we realized that multiple business units often provided [the same] subject matter expertise, so this led to a great deal of redundancy of content on the site,” DeJong said. “As we redirected content for the site, we worked to create consensus with a remarkable amount of stakeholders to present the content based on a One AMA approach that showed the totality of AMA’s work on any particular topic, regardless of which business the expertise resided in.”


Making the new website user-friendly

When you enter the new AMA website, launched in late 2016, your eyes are immediately drawn to a bold yet elegant font, with words running across the page: “Physicians, Residents, Med Students, Patients.”

Those, of course, are AMA’s four main stakeholders. “We wanted to use it as a tool to communicate, number one, who our website is for and, number two, how users find high-priority content or resources, based on who they are,” said DeJong.

For instance, when you click on “residents,” a few of the most-applicable topics to that group come up:

  • Read about AMA’s vision on health reform
  • Search for residency and fellowship programs
  • Get expert answers to clinical questions using our reference tool

And if those topics aren’t what you’re looking for, you can load more.

Still, in the early days after the launch, AMA has received great feedback. In some qualitative research, DeJong said respondents “overwhelmingly indicated” that they felt that AMA’s new website demonstrated the association’s commitment to the lives and careers of its stakeholders.

And that’s what we call a nice front door.



Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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