The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) is the primary resource for Doctors of Osteopathic medicine. 

The AOA serves more than 145,000 osteopathic physicians and medical students. That’s a lot of doctors—Doctors of Osteopathic medicine (known as DOs) work in all areas of medicine. 

Their whole-person approach to healthcare makes DOs different than other physicians. Health is about more than getting well at the doctor—health involves educating patients on the healthiest ways they can live their lives, everyday. This is the work of DOs. 

The AOA serves as the place where DOs can go for resources throughout their entire career—from the beginning of their education to the end of their career as practicing physicians. 

And that’s not all. The AOA also serves as the certifying organization for all 27 boards of osteopathic specialties.

The AOA needed a website to clearly communicate everything the organization does for patients, doctors, and the community. 

We designed and developed a website for AOA with the goal to reduce content, improve navigation, personalize the experience for members, provide tools for engagement, and create a website that is easy to use. 

Our team of developers, designers, and strategists created a website that does just that. The results? A 54% increase in conversions (measured by how many students become members once they become residents). 

Creating a Unified Brand Experience

The AOA came to us with a goal in mind: to unify its brand experience. 

Without one location to start from, students, residents, and physicians had to search 27 independent websites to find their speciality. This made it confusing and difficult for the user to find their certifying board website. 

So, we built a central website to serve as one place for students to find a speciality. We also made sure to make it simple for physicians to learn about certification. 

For physicians to understand the benefits of choosing AOA certification, we chose a very clear message; it’s one of the first things you see on the homepage in the “About Certification” and “Why Choose AOA?” sections. 

American Osteopathic Association Board Certification

An AOA certification shows physician quality for a variety of stakeholders—patients employers, insurers and regulators.

As the user scrolls down the About page, we explain the three types of certification and how to become AOA board certified with a step-by-step process.

screenshot from American Osteopathic Association website showing types of certification from the organization

screenshot from American Osteopathic Association website showing a step-by-step process on how to become board certified

In addition to building a central place for osteopathic specialities, we also redesigned AOA’s membership site.

 

An Association Membership Website to Serve Members 

Before we began the design of the AOA website, we wanted to understand the audience better. 

We conducted market research to see what AOA’s primary audience—students, residents and physicians—specifically wanted out of the website. 

To redesign the membership site, osteopathic.org, we involved real users in the process. We conducted an in-depth market research project, including 30+ interviews of 7 different stakeholder groups, UX & SEO audits and analyses, and user personas and journey mapping. 

In our research, we asked stakeholders a series of questions: 

 

  • What features are you using the most? 
  • What are you most frequently trying to learn about when coming to the site? 
  • Where did you gather information when deciding to become a Doctor of Osteopathic? Did you use the AOA website? 

 

Here’s what we found: 

The AOA’s primary audiences (students, members, and physicians) struggled to find what they were looking for on the old website, or they felt intimidated or disengaged. The audience was not getting the most out of the AOA’s website. All the information was there, it just needed to be better communicated. 

What Each Target Audience Wanted to See:

More Information about AOA Membership Value

When someone is interested in becoming a member of a professional organization, they want as much information as possible. They want to know how the organization is going to help them and their profession. They want to know how the organization will help their career. They want the organization to help make their job easier. 

That’s exactly what we communicated for the AOA. With the new site, it’s clear the AOA wants to connect DOs with their network.And with 145,000 students and physicians, the AOA creates endless opportunities for DOs to build leadership skills, exchange ideas, and collaborate with like-minded physicians.

The value of an AOA membership also includes tools for making a physician’s job easier while raising awareness about the osteopathic profession, providing discounts, and fighting for osteopathic physicians and their patients by working directly with lawmakers. Throughout the website, we gave the AOA spaces to explain this to their audience. 

screenshot of the American Osteopathic Association website with text reads, "There's so much the AOA can do for you."

Non-doctor Visits to the Website to Learn More About the Profession

image of the American Osteopathic Association Patient webpage

The medical community consists of more than doctors and nurses. This community also includes the government, desk workers, employers, insurers, and patients.

At some point, we’re all patients and have questions about our health. When we want to explore health education, we turn to trusted resources. The AOA is a trusted resource. 

To help audiences who are non-doctors learn more about AOA, we made it easier to find information about what osteopathic physicians do. In the utility navigation of each homepage (https://osteopathic.org/ and https://certification.osteopathic.org/), we added a “For Patients” link to show patients exactly where to go once they come to the AOA’s website. 

The homepage link gives patients a jumping off point to then further explore the profession through content that is tailored for them:

an image of the patient resource center website from the American Osteopathic Association

Residents Want to Advance in their Careers — AOA Can Help 

Screenshot from the American Osteopathic Association information portal of the resident physician

The AOA provides information for residents throughout the entire process—from starting residency to managing student loans. On the AOA Residency landing page, we added an easy way for residents to find more information about how to navigate residency. 

The resources include a helpful timeline of key milestones for residency training. We made it simple to find that timeline within the navigation by placing it under residency. 

Also, in the drop down navigation, we made sure to give residents an easy way to find opportunities beyond residency resources. This takes them to the AOA career center. 

Information about Interacting With Patients

screenshot of American Osteopathic Association website showing information for physicians on how better to interact with patients

 

DOs believe in the power of prevention when it comes to health. A patient’s lifestyle and environment play a big role in understanding how to provide high-quality care. The AOA partners with organizations that are specialized in specific areas of care. So we created a page for physicians to find the tools they need. 

Examples of tools they can find include empathy strategies and learning early childhood development with the Erikson Institute. 

Additional Resources (Financial, Process Resources, Business of Medicine, Events, Location-Based Information)

a screenshot from the American Osteopathic Website showing additional resources for physicians

Behind every successful career is a group of support. For a DO physician specifically, you need support from an organization that understands the demand of the profession. 

To communicate that the AOA provides their members with the support they need for their day-to-day lives, so we built a Life+ Career landing page. There are four different “Read more” call-to-actions (CTAs)  under each significant topic—wellness, financial/student loans, career, and research. This way, members can explore more detailed pages under the specific topics they want to learn more about while also seeing the “big picture” summary of what the AOA offers.

News and Policy, Advocacy Updates

news page for the American Osteopathic Assoication

To make it very clear where to find news related to the osteopathic profession, we designed a news page. Users can access it from the top navigation. 

A General Overview of AOA and the Osteopathic Profession

What is osteopathic medicine? It’s not something everyone knows about. 

We created a detailed About page to make sure anyone who came to the site can find out what DOs do — and the fact that the profession is only growing. 

We Also Built a Member Portal 

In our market research, we found that for members to get the most out of this resource, they needed a digital tool to aggregate it all. We designed and developed a custom portal that allows them to log in, view documents, manage calendars, and edit profiles. Now, they can customize and save their information all in one place. 

The Result 

Overall, the AOA’s priority is to be a resource for DOs, patients, and members. That’s why we made it our priority too — we built a content-first website. 

We utilized our own market research to determine how we could minimize clutter, and designed a website that made it  easy for users to find exactly what they are looking for. 

With a new website experience that speaks to the AOA’s audiences, we enhanced the overall branding and function of the site. And we made it easy for the AOA to continue to update the site after it went live. 

This approach — one that prioritized both the content and the audience — paid off. We helped the AOA increase conversions by 54% after the website’s launch. 

This number isn’t just because of us, of course. It’s because the AOA is what it is: an organization that takes care of the physicians who take care of patients. 

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