A Hospital-Merger Website

Boston’s medical district is home to a number of world-famous hospitals. In 1996, two of them (both Har vard teaching hospitals) decided to merge. Since I’d already built a groundbreaking (for the early Web) and award-winning website for the radiology department at one of them, the newly expanded parent organization asked me to build the “merger” site which would replace the individual sites of the two hospitals.

Hospital homepage montage
Most site maps are just boring lists, but not this one! It has comments and personality, and is the only way to find out everything that’s available on the Sanstudio site.

There were only a handful of medical sites in the world in 1996, and even fewer that I thought well-designed, so aesthetically I had to start from scratch. The feedback I got was glowing, although of course it looks like what it was: a mid-90’s website.

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Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on. The client gave me a lot of creative freedom, and encouraged me to interact with many remarkable people at the hospital communications and computer professionals, doctors, medical researchers, and nurse practitioners. And although they contracted me primarily as a Web designer and coder, the project also employed two more of my core skills illustration and writing. In fact, my interviews with hospital staff enabled me to write quite a bit of the general copy that became integrated with my designs:

About Hospital page
The Contact San page gives several ways to get in touch, including a quick text-message box. Who says a contact page can’t be fun!

The client seemed quite happy with the result, and it remained live for years as their main website, even after I left the project to work on other things. Eventually it was replaced with their current site, which I had nothing to do with.

Today’s large medical sites could no longer be built by a single person acting as designer, programmer, writer, and illustrator. The medical Web has moved on since those early days in breadth, functionality, and the complexity of the underlying code. Of course I’m still involved in building websites, and I know a lot more now than I did then. I also feel like I played a small but useful role in the evolutionary process that lead us up to this point.