I originally planned to write this post focusing on the data relationships needed for a solid multi-specialty multi-location website. In the meantime, an interaction with one of my clients suggested I use a story to make the point instead.
This Fourth of July weekend, I received an urgent mail from a client who had an emergency shutdown in one of their offices. All of the doctors and departments had to be reassigned to a temporary location by Monday. This could have blown a big hole in everyone’s holiday, but with the site on our SyncConnect platform, we were able to make this data change in just two places, sparing us dozens of content changes and checks.
We were able to take this painless way out because the platform defines relationships between doctors, departments, and locations. We carefully defined many-to-many relationships and designed pages that are displayed to patients using data from the database and display rules, rather than hard-coding it to the page.
While this may seem like standard practice to content management experts, it’s actually surprising how few websites have done all the work necessary to make the data fully relational, flexible enough to support complex relationships, and separate enough from the content. The result can be needing to make dozens of hours of changes because doing it manually seemed easier at some prior point in time.
No matter what content platform you are using, make sure you invest that effort up front, so you can respond to changes with minimal headache:
- Business interruptions
- Location moves
- Acquisitions of new practices
- Creation of new specialties or centers
Whether those changes are planned or unplanned, you will be grateful when the time comes that you took time to build robustness in from the beginning.