Hazelden

With extensive user testing, we designed a user experience and modular site structure for one of the nation’s most renowned addiction recovery centers that successfully served the needs of diverse audiences and business units.

Hazelden is well known as one of the world’s foremost addiction treatment centers–but the organization’s role extends far beyond treatment. Hazelden also leads the fields of recovery, prevention, advocacy, research, education and publishing. Successful growth has created some major challenges from a digital perspective.

In collaboration with Pilcrow Partners, Azul Seven joined with Hazelden to assess how each of the separate business units could better differentiate their offerings, align their presence and use the digital environment to the greatest departmental and organization-wide advantage.

Because Hazelden’s business units had never before considered how the website might serve them individually, we worked to understand each group’s priorities and the kinds of web interactions that are most relevant to their goals. By combining these groups on a single site, we needed to carefully understand each Hazelden audience and be sensitive to their needs. From those seeking addiction treatment and those in recovery, to potential graduate students and book buyers, visitors needed targeted experiences that still fit together as a unified site.

Part of our work with the business units also included hierarchy of the site. We needed to give the units equal visibility, without confusing the overall experience. The final strategy grounds the site in Hazelden’s identity as a treatment center, but uses the primary navigation like a portal, giving each group equal presence, and directing audiences to their area of interest clearly and immediately. Site visitors are free to operate wholly within a single area for a very targeted and relevant experience, or branch out and explore Hazelden’s offerings and services holistically.

Adding to the project complexity was the circumstance of technology. Much of Hazelden’s struggle to maintain its site in the past was due to limitations of an outdated CMS. But because a new CMS was not immediately within budget, we needed to use architecture and design to improve the user experience for Hazelden’s visitors and staff without taxing the development team.

Based on Pilcrow Partners’ overall site strategy and our CMS requirements, we developed a modular site structure that allows Hazelden staff to maintain targeted content for each audience and rotate homepage content without losing consistency.

Our design team worked to create an environment sensitive to the needs and situations of diverse audiences. But rather than try to predict reactions, Azul Seven employs user testing throughout the life of the project. We use an iterative process, making changes and gathering feedback as we go.

This process proved especially valuable during Hazelden’s testing. Because one of our main audiences was Hazelden’s publishing buyers, our homepage design included a carousel of featured books for sale, listing prices and “Buy Now” buttons. But during testing, we found that those who were not part of our publishing audience felt unanimous discomfort with this section. They were visiting the site to get help on serious issues from a sensitive, trustworthy brand and instead felt they were getting a sales pitch.

We couldn’t leave Hazelden Publishing off the homepage, so we rethought the way it was presented. Our team concluded that it wasn’t the presence of the books that people were uncomfortable with, it was the way the books were displayed, with e-commerce elements immediately pushing for a sale.

We kept the carousel, re-titled it “Hazelden Recommends” and removed prices and purchase buttons. Each book still links to purchasing information in the bookstore, but now the information comes across as helpful, not sales-focused. The solution worked. In no subsequent rounds of user testing did the carousel raise any concerns.

The Hazelden team handled implementation of the site in their custom-built CMS. Azul Seven facilitated the transition of design and content, using clear code mock-ups, design patterns and wireframes to communicate the functionality of the final site to their copy and development teams for final content integration.

  • Research
  • Digital Business Strategy
  • User Experience Design
  • User Interface Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Content Strategy
  • Front-End Development

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