Google’s Universal Analytics Arrives. VitalSite’s Ready.

Google Universal Analytics Graphic

Well, it’s official. Google’s Universal Analytics (UA), the next generation of the ubiquitous Web analytics tool, is now officially out of beta and ready for prime time. According to Google, “all the features, reports, and tools of Classic Analytics are now available in the [Universal Analytics] product, including Remarketing and Audience (Demographic) reporting.” This is good news for those of us interested in taking the plunge, but unwilling to sacrifice any of the functionality we’ve come to depend on in the classic Google Analytics (GA).

Of course, it’s not just about feature parity between old and new. From custom dimensions and metrics to new approaches to cross-domain (and sub-domain) tracking, there are a bevy of new features and capabilities in Universal Analytics that will be of interest to most Web marketers and webmasters.

If you’re a Google-watcher, you’ve no doubt been keeping your eye on Universal Analytics for some time. And if you aren’t a Google-watcher, rest assured that we’ve been watching on your behalf. In fact, we’ve been planning for this announcement for quite some time.

That’s why the just-released VitalSite 7.0 includes a new Site Root Script Manager built specifically with Google’s Universal Analytics in mind.

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Value, Release Frequency and VitalSite CMS

vitalsite 7 cms

A number of years ago we took pride in the fact that we released VitalSite updates every quarter. Not only was it a significant differentiator from other software developers who struggled to deliver even one release a year, but frequent releases just seemed like the right thing to do. Why? Quarterly updates allowed us more opportunities to help our clients manage their top performing hospital websites. And that’s hard to do when you have to wait a year or more to take advantage of new features.

Over the last few years we’ve been resolute in our commitment to frequently delivering software, and the rate at which we release updates has increased manyfold. In fact, we now consider a quarterly release cadence to be slow and often symptomatic of problems on software development teams. Such problems can be the result of:

  1. A software development team that is incapable of responding quickly to changing market needs, or of quickly deploying fixes and updates to clients. This can be because of anything from code quality to management problems. Regardless of the cause, it should be considered a warning sign for many types of software.
  2. A vendor who has decided to withhold valuable changes and updates from their clients until the marketing team decides that they have ‘enough’ new functionality for them to bundle it all in a release and promote it in the market. This approach is common among software vendors who just want to rack up new sales and have little regard for existing clients.

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Search Is Not Your Website’s Dumping Ground


Stylized image of a search box

Like water from the tap or electrons from the outlet, we tend to take search for granted. Beneath the ubiquitous experience we’re all familiar with, there is a lot of advanced engineering at play… engineering intended to empower users by connecting them to results highly relevant to their queries.

That’s the theory, anyways.
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VitalSite 6.7.6 – Secure Content Enhancements for Hospital Websites, Intranets and Extranets


Image of a lock symbol on the key of a keyboard
As 2013 finally draws to a close, we have one more release to announce: VitalSite 6.7.6. This release contains a few new features related to secure content (CMS pages and secure files), and a number of fixes and updates requested by clients (full details are provided to clients in GeoCentral). The new features will be of interest to clients using VitalSite to host content for authenticated users on hospital intranets, board extranets and secure sections of their public websites.
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Time to Spice Up the Ol’ Provider Directory?


Avera Doctor Profile Page

Keeping physicians happy, adhering to brand standards, and making a site user-friendly can sometimes be a balancing act. But Avera Health has accomplished all three items with its updated provider directory.

Geonetric worked with Avera Health take VitalSite’s already advanced provider profiles a step further. We gave the physician profiles a facelift adding in more interactive features such as videos and a dynamic blog feed that pulls in blog posts written by that specific doctor. The location information (including secondary locations) are clearly displayed to make it easy for visitors to find a provider in a certain area.

We also simplified the physician search results by changing the layout and indicating physicians that have a video. A print button was also added that allows users to print their search results.

Making a few changes can have a big effect! Feedback has been very positive, a win-win for users and providers!

Are you ready to dust off your provider directory and spice it up? Not sure where to start? Let us know – we’d love to help!

Web Content Accordion Best Practices

As you probably know, VitalSite has a great feature called accordions. Accordions allow you to take a long run-on page and condense the content into collapsed accordions so you can add even more content and accordions to your page, right?! Well… not exactly. That’s not the intent, anyway. But we see it used for exactly that purpose all too often.

Perhaps you are caught in the “how many accordions are too many?” conundrum. Many healthcare marketers are. There are some general guidelines you can use so let’s dive right in.

Generally, 5-6 accordions is the maximum you should place on one page. If you add any more you can safely say that you are trying to place too much content on one page. So you might think a solution to this is to make your accordion headers “broader” so each accordion can encompass more content. Not so much; which leads us to the next guideline.

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Active Directory Integration and the Healthcare CMS

Screen capture showing the ADFS network sign-in option for VitalSite

VitalSite 6.7.5 is nearing completion, and as we prepare it for release, I’m particularly excited to announce our Active Directory authentication integration.

VitalSite administrators will appreciate the reduced overhead now that they don’t have to manually create and deactivate accounts in VitalSite when employees enter and leave the organization.
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Finding the Right Doctor Online Just Got Easier

It can be hard to find the right doctor.

And let’s face it, people are pretty picky. Some care about gender. Others care about age. Some care about where the doctor went to school. Or if the doctor has a MD after his name or a DO.

And some care about all of the above.

So how do you help these picky health consumers in your community connect with one of your doctors? With an awesome online physician directory!
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How Do Healthcare Organizations Manage Multiple Services Across Various Locations?

Locations, services and physicians, oh my! Crozer-Keystone Health System’s Brinton Lake is a comprehensive outpatient complex in Glen Mills, PA.

Since the Brinton Lake complex offers an extensive number of services at various locations, Crozer-Keystone was concerned about usability and making sure site visitors could find the providers, services, and location information they needed.
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The Guide to Google Publisher

Is Dynamic Content Right for Your Hospital’s Website?

SmartPanel Personalization

The Web is a great channel for engaging health consumers, making connections and converting them into patients. It’s natural, therefore, that we’d want to tailor the digital experience based on their individual interests – an approach that’s becoming more and more popular on retail websites.

But what works well for retail isn’t necessarily useful for healthcare. People use our sites differently. Failing to recognize this can lead to a site that’s awkward, creepy or even risks HIPAA violations. So how do you know if using dynamic content is right for your hospital’s website? Let’s explore.

What makes a site dynamic?

Dynamic websites are based on content management tools where the content lives in a database rather than static files. Pages are assembled as users access them, pulling the most relevant and up-to-date information together at that moment.

For example, when someone looks at a page about birth center services, you want current information about obstetricians, birth center tours and birth preparedness classes on the page. If a class is full or was held yesterday, you don’t want it to appear in that list. A monumental task to manage manually, but trivial for a dynamic website.

There are other factors that may cause different content to be delivered. For example, if the user is inside the hospital when they visit the site then you might offer different information for them compared to someone outside such as interior facility maps rather than campus maps.

You may also present things differently depending on the device used to visit the site. Mobile phones and tablets should have a user experience tailored to the needs of those platforms using responsive design.

Implicit vs. Explicit Personalization

Taking dynamic content a step further brings us to personalized content.

Personalization can work several ways. The first scenario is context personalization, tailoring content and calls to action to the context of the page that the user is currently visiting. This is a sort of implicit personalization in which consumers aren’t required to provide their permission in order for the customization to occur. For example, when looking at a health library page on cancer, the user should be presented with links to oncologists, screenings, support groups, services and the like (for more information, have a look at our SmartPanel technology).

The second scenario is explicit personalization – when you serve up content that is specific to that person. This scenario requires you to be very careful and only use explicit personalization when you’re absolutely sure who the person is that you’re interacting with. That only happens after the user has logged into your portal. In this scenario the user most commonly requests the type of information she would like to see and that’s used to help populate the portal home page.

Tips for Personalization Success

I’m sure you’re thinking of something you’ve seen on Amazon.com and wondering if it can be done for your health system’s website. At Amazon, items that you looked at follow you around the site, follow you to other sites that you visit in the form of ads, appear again on your next visit to the site and they even show up in your email inbox.

The reality is that these types of techniques don’t translate well to healthcare, so let’s think through how healthcare is different and how health consumers will access your site.

  • Healthcare relationships are built on trust and confidentiality. People don’t care a great deal when a consumer product company is tracking and targeting them to upsell the latest and greatest gadget, but get very upset when the NSA does the same thing. The rules just aren’t the same for all players. And most consumers don’t like the idea that they are being targeted using sensitive information such as health data.
  • Context matters. Hospital website users are dealing with different issues at different times… and often for different family members. With the exception of a few chronic conditions, they only care about an issue when they’re actively looking for it. So it’s important to optimize the experience around what they’re looking at today, not what they looked at last week.
  • Beware the shared computer. By visiting your site, consumers are giving you information about themselves. Be careful when trying to tailor the experience that you’re not inadvertently exposing any of that sensitive information to what might be a different person using the same computer!

With these few tips in mind, you can create a fantastic experience for your site visitors and one that moves them towards becoming a patient.

VitalSite 6.7 is Here!

Last week our engineering team released VitalSite 6.7. It contains a slew of new features, fixes and enhancements focused on helping consumers find your site and the content within it. This release includes enhancement to site search, schema.org support, and a range of tools for webmasters.

Site Search Enhancements and Schema.org Support

Screen shot of VitalSite's module search showing provider directory
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Exclusive Interview with Our Guest Product Owner

We work hard to ensure our VitalSite content management system is the best on the market. And we’re lucky enough to work with experts in many disciplines – not just software development. We routinely reach out to our internal experts to get advice and recommendations to ensure our software meets evolving needs.

For one of our recent development sprints we invited Casey Hansen, Geonetric’s expert on all things Google, to join the VitalSite team as a guest product owner. Casey brought a backlog of ideas for enhancing the search engine optimization features of VitalSite. I sat down with him to find out how it went.

DS: Thanks for being part of the development team this sprint. Could you explain which part of the development process you were included in?

CH: I was involved in the planning process and the daily standups to see how the product team works through a sprint and overcomes obstacles. It was eye-opening to see how all the different pieces affect each other.

DS: It’s a constant process of prioritization. Were there other surprising aspects of the development process?

CH: The biggest surprise was to see how something that seems simple can actually be quite complex. What will that change affect here? There? Across the product? What do we do if this happens? What do we do if that happens? When you’re the one with the idea, you don’t think about all of the details. The simplest little feature can have waterfall effects. It’s really enlightening to understand the process.

DS: One of the features that you worked on was an enhancement to encourage authors to provide good metadata for the content they create. How do you think the feature will boost search engine optimization?

CH: It’s going to help make sure that some of the basics are on the pages, that they don’t get left out, and that they conform to standards. In my experience, clients have multiple people putting content in and it’s easy for pages to get published with no metadata, or inconsistent metadata. This feature is going to help guide that process.

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