Established in 1969, Spectrum Health Systems, Inc. is a private, non-profit charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals impacted by addiction and/or mental illness. Since its original “Challenge House” in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Spectrum has seen extreme growth and diversification. Spectrum now operates hundreds of programs in over 60 locations across the United States, including substance abuse and mental health treatment, adolescent and corrections services and drug-free housing. Serving more than 20,000 individuals each year, they have helped thousands to overcome addiction and lead satisfying and productive lives.
Spectrum came to Sabre in 2003 in need of a wide-ranging website outlining their full range of programs and services, locations, news and career opportunities. Sabre designed and built the new site with some small custom applications to maintain a steadily growing archive of news articles and career opportunities. The site was a giant step in the right branding direction and certainly served the organization well for several years. Sabre has remained a partner, providing Spectrum with a customized maintenance program that conveniently kept Sabre resources at their fingertips for whenever and however they were needed.
Over the following seven years, the demand for more content on the Spectrum website increased with the addition of new programs, services and facilities across the country. This expansion also fostered a growing need for Spectrum to be able to update and effectively communicate to its patients the ever-changing treatment options for substance abuse and related disorders in conjunction with the developing research.
This past spring, Spectrum decided it was time to pull the trigger. The need to maintain dynamic content warranted a new site. We embarked on a mission together to put a system in place that would allow Spectrum to easily organize, manage and update the escalating content on the site. Our goal was to make it as easy as possible for Spectrum to operate the system, as well as for their patients and prospective clients to easily find the information they are seeking. We also wanted to update the look and feel of the site, giving it a fresh air about it, while still maintaining the strong brand image originally set in place on the initial site.
There are several CMS (Content Management System) solutions available for web content management, both open source and commercial. Commercial CMSs characteristically involve the purchase of a license or subscription, and often times carry supplementary costs for the development and customizations of web applications. Open source CMSs are cost effective solutions because they are free for download, offer thousands of plug-ins/extensions to expand the application features, and are more accessible for website developers. Some of the more common open source applications include Joomla, Drupal and WordPress offers massive expertise and knowledge in both commercial and open source CMS systems.
We chose Joomla for the new Spectrum site, as its core system offered much of the functionality we were looking to employ, while also allowing us to integrate numerous custom applications to fulfill Spectrum’s requirements and big wish-list. The new features included a supplementary module to dynamically add, sort and organize the numerous treatment facilities and programs both geographically and categorically, which also automatically updates a customized map. The new system provides a means to display, rotate and arrange photographs to their liking across the site, easily upload and edit job postings with the ability for users to sort through job opportunities geographically, connect to their social media platforms, and directly feed from video sites similar to YouTube and Vimeo. Other new site benefits incorporate links in which charitable donations can safely and easily be made online, and bills can even be paid. A secure intranet site for employees was also established giving staff members the ability to easily obtain benefits, HR information and download personnel forms.
Since going live in August, the Spectrum website has seen a 30% increase in traffic and average time spent on the site. As Spectrum Health Systems, Inc. has grown, so has the interest of its users. The website has had over 70,000 visits over the past year from every state in the U.S.
One last note about this memorable project…we can’t take ALL the credit! We have to give kudos where kudos are due. This project was certainly a team effort and the staff at Spectrum provided a vision for the development of this incredible new website and are wonderfully competent professionals who are a pleasure to work with.