University of Maryland Medical System

Creating a High Performance Platform for a Leading Healthcare System Site

Automated Management

Automated Management

The new UMMS website allows a small Web team to manage one of the deepest and most trafficked sites on the internet—making great use of Sitecore to automated elements like portlet inheritance in sections, related links, and the creation of rich site sections.

UMMS
Coveo Search

Coveo Search

For the UMMS website redesign, TBG implemented Coveo, a leading search technology that is tightly integrated with Sitecore. Coveo allows for high performance, future-featured searching of both the content in the site and in externally hosted microsites still in transition.

UMMS
Content Personalization

Content Personalization

Portions of the UMMS websites make use of targeted content, personalized based on user behavior—taking advantage of Sitecore’s great system for managing personalization rules in an ad hoc, non-technical way.

UMMS
Syndicated Content & SEO URL Preservation

Syndicated Content & SEO URL Preservation

The UMMS website includes a large amount of syndicated medical reference content (A.D.A.M.) that was closely integrated with site structure and metadata. That content, along with the rest, was carefully preserved in terms of SEO friendly URL (Web address) history, allowing the site to maintain its superb search engine visibility.

UMMS

TBG & UMMS

University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) is one of the largest health system websites on the Internet and a well-known one. Largely because of its industry leading natural search rankings (SEO), UMMS is more comparable in impact to heavy hitters in medical reference like Mayo Clinic and WebMD than to even a large hospital system site. A complex, multi-part, multi-specialty organization, UMMS has nearly 30,000+ pages of Web content and had invested heavily in content and site structure optimization over the years. At the same, the organization has had a longstanding need for a CMS platform change, user experience improvements, and all the features that go with a stronger contemporary CMS platform.

All of TBG's (The Berndt Group) website redesign projects involve aspects of user experience, content strategy, and engineering, and are on a continuum of emphasis based on the driving business context. The UMM.EDU redesign was less focused on digital marketing and user experience design than on building a sustainable, high efficiency infrastructure for the management of UMMS's voluminous content. Another major focus of the project was to do all this—refactoring thousands of pages in a new user experience—without diminishing the site's fantastic natural search rankings.

The UMMS project began with a focus on analysis of the existing site content and cross discussion with the UMMS SEO consultants. Working from these elements and developing a list of crucial usability improvements, TBG developed an operational and architectural plan to migrate the UMMS site to the Sitecore CMS. With UMMS, we discussed many nuanced elements related to plans for site structure/SEO interaction, the logistics of URL retention, complex related link strategies, structure management strategies, metadata taxonomy, and other considerations.

Out of this discovery process, detailed technical plans for the project crystallized and were highly documented, along with technical specs reviewed by UMMS. TBG then developed prototypes of the sites and then worked with UMMS programmers to migrate significant content into the new system. A major focus on performance testing followed, with some necessary refactoring of some of the structural and systems integration decisions to be able to efficiently represent the large content set. In the end, Sitecore and TBG's development hit all of the desired functionality while simultaneously supporting the huge traffic and content sets. The total project lasted about nine months and was a highly accelerated time frame for a project of this magnitude and complexity.

All in all, the production of the UMM.EDU project represented a major advance in large healthcare system website maintenance with a mid-market product, extending and making use of a large number of best practices. The site launch went smoothly, retaining excellent natural search rankings and adding variety of labor saving features. TBG is continuing to develop on the site, and as mentioned above, has moved onto more marketing focused content and personalization phases, building upon this state-of-the-art architecture.

  • star icon30,000 Pages of Web Content
  • person icon3 Million Visitors / Month
  • 25# of Different Sites
  • award ribbon iconNationally Ranked Hospital by U.S. News & World Report
Sitecore CMS Implementation & SEO

Sitecore CMS Implementation & SEO

The project was predicated on a best practices implementation of Sitecore CEP. Sitecore was chosen because of its extremely high quality engineering and its industrial-strength appropriateness for such a large, high volume website—in many ways the perfect platform for an efficient approach to such a massive infrastructural Web build. The project was also conceived very much with co-development in mind, with TBG mentoring UMMS developers and getting them up to speed on rapid, best practices Sitecore development, enabling UMMS to support, and to some extent, develop the multifarious new websites required by the health system.

First and foremost, the UMM.EDU site was able to make the transition to a modern CMS and user experience without losing its industry leading natural search rankings. Obviously these rankings represent a major area of equity for the institution. The chance to upgrade the site in a hundred small ways, without losing this powerful historical advantage was a crucial consideration.

A major focus on performance testing was a part of the project, with some necessary refactoring of several of the structural and systems integration decisions to be able to efficiently represent the large content set. In the end, Sitecore and TBG's development hit all of the desired functionality while simultaneously supporting the huge traffic and content sets.

The new site, which has been very positively received and technically bulletproof, represents a best practice example of a large institutional migration into Sitecore. TBG built many high value capabilities into the process, making use of the Sitecore framework to build extended infrastructure that enabled a small Web team to manage a giant site.

Multi-site Frameworks

Multi-site Frameworks

Everything in the UMM.EDU site was built to be modular and to allow for multi-site re-usage of content, components, and display elements. TBG re-architected the site to be the start of a much larger constellation of sites that would reuse its components and integrate with it.

Managing Portlet Inheritance

Managing Portlet Inheritance

A major problem of large, deep tree websites is the management of portlet relationships within the site. For instance, if you are managing a site that is five levels deep, you may want portlets (related content, calls-to-action, videos, etc.) to stay fairly consistent, but at certain points need to have exceptions, for instance a landing page or a specific topic page that is a "one off." Sometimes, especially in hospital sites, these one-off configurations can be unavoidable for usability or political reasons.

This is the kind of case that usually implies manually setting the portlets per page—potentially daunting for sites with tens of thousands of pages. The other alternative is usually to "hardwire" portlets and eschew the one-off cases. TBG created a superior approach through an implementation that allows UMMS to flexibly inherit portlet configurations in sections, break inheritance, and then pick it back up a level down—allowing a time pressed Web master to have his/her cake and eat it too.

Syndicated Content Integration

Syndicated Content Integration

Throughout the site, TBG enabled the ability for users to comment (not that unusual, but still high value). However, an important twist here was the migration of an enormous number of pre-existing comments into this new technical infrastructure. TBG spent considerable time refining the approach so that a very high volume of content could be imported and work in a high performance environment.

Another major focus of the project was the integration of a large amount of syndicated medical reference content from non-CMS sources—bringing the content into Sitecore in a way where it could be easily manipulated, kept in sync, and related automatically to other content. TBG worked to develop highly sophisticated systems to mirror and place this syndicated content in context.