The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing the achievements of over 170 laureates. The website educates future medical professionals, weaves past accomplishments with current-day medical breakthroughs, and honours Canadian medical pioneers every year.
The original website struggled to organize 170+ laureates and impactfully highlight their areas of contribution. It was challenging for a visitor to discover laureates and understand how a laureate could have influenced multiple medical fields and influenced each others’ work.
We also know that the scientific advancements made by laureates in the past impact medical breakthroughs in the present. With the new site, we aimed to showcase how achievements influence each other. We wanted to draw a connection between the past and present.
Lastly, it was also essential to provide a big-picture overview of Canadian medical excellence. With many ways to organize and group impact areas, it was challenging to determine the best way to organize achievements while also facilitating laureate discoverability.
Storytelling is one of the most memorable and impactful ways of sharing information. Sharing information in bite-sized pieces makes it easy to understand and process. Rather than simply listing out accomplishments from the laureates, we sought to create links between the achievements to show the influence that each one had on another.
A thorough discovery process uncovered their key challenges and helped us understand the users’ needs. With this knowledge, we:
Created a new robust taxonomy
- We worked with subject matter experts to organize achievements into 35 themes.
- Further contextualizing themes through creating hierarchy (parent themes)
- Ensuring terminology used was easy to understand for both non-specialists and experts
Storytelling through impact maps
- Creating timelines per theme that map different laureate’s accomplishments
- Linking various laureates together through the impact maps
- Creating a feeling of being in a museum with an interactive and visual feel.
Improved laureate page
- Each laureate’s personal timeline allows visitors to view their accomplishments throughout their careers.
- Introduction of related laureates based on themes
- Creation of additional resources to learn more about laureate.
- Highlighted key facts about each laureate
Creation of a virtual museum experience
- Interactive timelines that encourage discovery within theme areas.
- Balancing traditional and modern elements for a clean and historical feel.
- The inclusion of videos to bring laureates’ stories to life.
We conducted meetings with key stakeholders to ensure we understood the vision for the website and the current challenges they were facing. It became clear that we needed to focus research efforts on defining the taxonomy structure to make sense to both experts and those without much medical knowledge. We conducted a card sorting activity to begin understanding how the stakeholders would organize the themes and provide a starting point for the final version.
Taxonomy and theme hierarchy
We worked closely with the CMHF team to refine and accurately represent medical terminology while being easily understandable by the public. Special attention was placed on not using specific diseases as labels and instead focusing on areas of the body. Additionally, we allowed content to be tagged with keywords to allow for different types of browsing behaviour.
Creating a sense of consistency in the narrative of Canadian contributions to medicine was of utmost priority for CMHF. We designed a way to view achievements over time by theme area through the use of impact maps. Because laureates don’t work in isolation, we can tell a fuller story of the relationship between the achievements over time.
Viewing all laureates
With the updated listing page, visitors can search all laureates by theme and keyword – accommodating any browsing pattern that is most relevant to the person. By allowing users to find laureates alphabetically or through searching or filtering, they became much more discoverable and accessible to someone using the site for research purposes.
Laureate detail page
We wanted to make each laureates’ story come to life and feel relevant to anyone viewing their page. To do this, we created timelines that profile personal and medically impactful achievements. Each page featured a hand-drawn sketch and a video discussing their life to make their stories more personal. Lastly, we focused on featuring key content by creating different sections and highlighting key facts.
Visual design – capturing innovation throughout history
Through the look and feel for CMHF, we wanted to capture the progress and advancements made in Canadian Medicine throughout history to the present day, shedding a specific light on the individuals who made those advancements possible.
By implementing the CMHF brand colour and creating colour gradients with their palette, we created tones that bring a lot of energy to the overall look and feel, and capture the essence of progress and warmth.
The typographical treatment creates a delicate balance and harmony between contemporary and traditional styles, thus creating a strong tie to historical roots and the modern-day impacts.
By organizing the content into small sections and combining it with large imagery and interactive elements, the site mitigates the risk of feeling dry or overwhelming to its users. Instead, it creates an experience that is compelling and encourages engagement.
We created a site that positions CMHF for growth and seamlessly accommodates new laureates that will be inducted each year. We strengthened the storytelling capability, allowing laureates to be related to each other and grouped based on a theme and organized throughout a timeline.
Especially during a pandemic, when many people cannot visit CMHF’s exhibition hall in person, the website stepped forward and created an immersive and educational experience.
The updated look and feel better acknowledges and pays homage to past laureates’ accomplishments while communicating a modern feel, representing our place today in the medical field.
"Anyone we have shown the site to loves it, as do we. It is so much better than what we had, and it is a terrific way to bring the stories of our Laureates to life! We appreciate all the hard work everyone has put into this – thank you.
Lissa Foster, Executive Director, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame