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Case Study

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

A runway of content and ultra-personal UX mirrors ASTHO's prestige as a change-maker.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) is a linchpin of health equity and optimal well-being nationwide. The nonpartisan nonprofit empowers the individual and collective voice of the nation’s chief health officials.

The membership-based organization works day in and day to build ‘peak’ well-being and a healthier, more humane world. Its members – the leaders of public health agencies from all U.S. states, jurisdictions, and territories – are a prominent force for change, making a greater impact each year.

The nonprofit advances its annual strategic plan by affecting public policy; spearheading public health assessment and assurance; and providing training and technical assistance to health officials. Together, these central functions have ripple effects in the private sphere, elevating ASTHO's status as a pioneer of wellness, social, and economic advancement.

Having been laser-focused on change initiatives and membership goals, ASTHO took a hiatus from content creation and routine website updates. Member communications and outreach pressed on – as did all operations, programs, and advocacy. The website though was largely radio silent.

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  • Digital Strategy
  • Design and User Experience
  • CMS Development
  • Digital Marketing Transformation
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  • Episerver
  • Higher Logic Community

The Digital Dilemma

After the lull in content publishing and site maintenance, ASTHO was soon left with a website that misrepresented its innovation capabilities and stature as a tech-savvy group of public health leaders. This inadequate online presence simply wasn’t in line with modern UX/UI and shifting digital expectations. The pitfalls included:

  • An outdated, difficult-to-manage website with clunky navigation. 
  • Vague calls-to-action, needless menus, and confusing funnels flow. 
  • Lengthy text blocks without clear structure and hierarchy. 
  • No single sign-on, protected content, or login functionality. 
  • Cybersecurity risks and insecure checkout for the diverse threat spectrum. 
  • Unstructured metadata and bulky code disruptive to development. 
  • Oversized images, scripts, and files causing lag. 

The ‘Big Picture’ Strategy

The mission-driven nonprofit needed to shuffle back on the UX bandwagon and on the online radar of potential members and web visitors. A runway of new content on a modernized, revamped website was critical to unleash impact at scale and meet the challenges of evolving user standards.

To ensure the association’s members and website visitors remained connected to the organization and its mission, ASTHO partnered with Brightfind to identify the bottlenecks, create the site update strategy, and lead the project through execution. Throughout the process, decision-making balanced two goals: preserve the brand and online presence today while also looking to the future.

With that objective top of mind, the decision was made to the ASTHO’s current content management system (CMS), Drupel, to Optimizely’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP). Optimizely's deep personalization and content intelligence tipped the scales in its favor. And its ability to put digital content, commerce, and marketing on one screen sealed the deal.

ASTHO also wanted a new AMS, but with all commerce handled in Optimizely. With content management unified with e-commerce, ASTHO could now present hyper-personalized content, discover new revenue opportunities, and create meaningful interactions. 

A Content Powerhouse

Consistency and personalization were the main content delivery objectives. Brightfind built a bank of content ideas, pillar topics, and ‘They Ask, You Answer’ storylines reflecting the challenges, search needs, and interests of the target persona. This content was organized into themes and mapped out into an omnichannel strategy and publishing schedule. 

Next up – good ole’ copywriting. Heavy legwork was required to develop concise, eyebrow-raising copy aligned with the content strategy, site design, and brand strategy.

Brightfind got to work creating a wheelhouse of engaging content to support the new delivery cadence. Storytelling, audience-specific user research, and on-page SEO were integrated into the finalized copy, among other tactics from the marketing gameplan.

An updated UX/UI was also vital, as websites are the foundation of brands in the digital era. While there’s no hard and fast rule, a site typically needs updating every three-five years. To this end, the UX/UI was redesigned in alignment with user research.

For example, text-heavy blocks were replaced by visuals, impactful imagery, and strong web layout patterns such as card-based designs to convey messaging. 

The UX/UI Details

Enhanced usability and site architecture allowed for a more memorable, engaging, and seamless browsing experience.

Friction was also decreased by using clean and clear code; optimizing image, font, color, and sizing; minifying and removing unnecessary elements; and integrating accessibility and performance standards. Every page features a clear call-to-action and navigation. 

Cybersecurity measures were upgraded to enable peak performance, server security, and real-time threat intelligence across all user permission levels and environments. For optimal crawling and reach, Brightfind optimized the site structure, schema, and metadata.

The improved website design and build resulted in a responsive, well-designed, user-friendly site capable of loading fast on mobile and engaging users in a consistent (and hyper-personalized) UX experience across environments.

ASTHO Today

The advocacy projects of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials reflect the most pressing needs of its members. Its high-impact federal legislative agenda is strategically designed to addresses the social determinants of health and preserve critical investments in state-based public health excellence.

This year, the nonprofit set its sights on workforce shortfalls, data modernization, racial and health equity, and public health infrastructure across states and territories. 2022 ASTHO Federal Legislative Agenda outlines specific cross-cutting programs, strategies, and funding to connect health and wealth and invest in the public health workforce. 

The strategic priorities target key development and implementation mechanisms to combat inequities. Aligning policy and resources with emerging initiatives and threats is a key call to action, as directed and overseen by the board and ASTHO Government Relations Committee.

The era of continuous disruption has pinned organizations against a backdrop of rising expectations. Enjoying thriving member acquisition and retention today requires digital readiness. Being ‘digital ready’ and engaging in continuous transformation is particularly important for trailblazing nonprofits like ASTHO that are paving the future of humanity. 

Nonprofits and membership-based associations like ASTHO must mature digitally and creatively to "seduce” target audiences into membership. Striking a chord that reverberates through each user on the other hand means delivering contextual knowledge experiences and instant gratification in your CMS or DXP interactions. These modern, personalized web experiences are necessary to inspire members into action.

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