Designing for Stress Cases

Nationwide Children's Hospital

Nationwide Children's Hospital is the largest pediatric center in the United States, with over one million patient visits per year. 

The challenge

Launched in Spring 2018, the Nationwide Children's digital redesign project represents the immense labor and magnificent teamwork of dozens of people on both the client and agency side. Among the largest redesign efforts that I've lead - a role thankfully shared with digital expert Mara Low of TBG - the multi-phase project consisted of a comprehensive replatforming into Sitecore, massive experience personalization, two major usability tests and multiple guerilla tests at the hospital, a fresh taxonomy and the design of over 50 templates.

A comprehensive case study is certainly forthcoming by TBG (The Berndt Group), the impressive digital agency at the helm of the project. In this overview, however, let's take a closer look at the user experience of the new Nationwide Children's site. 

The solution

The UX design process was motivated by Eric Meyer's work about compassionate design and designing for stress cases. The basic idea is that a user should be able to complete key site tasks under stress – like finding an address or calling a hospital immediately after learning that one's child has been admitted -- when one's cognitive and perceptual capacities are diminished. We embraced Meyer's theory as our imperative in map design, section search (doctor and conditions search), form design and site architecture, among many things. 

Here's an example of compassionate design in action. It is the Location Search Template, which you can see live here. Notice the context indication bar, the stepped IA and the location tile. Each element is designed to minimize stress for the user and elevate just the right amount of content at just the right time in the user journey (so as to reduce cognitive load and physical stress).

Location Search Template

Here is another example of compassionate design. It is from the Location Detail template, which includes compassionate digital elements like dynamic wait times, clinic status, parking tips and updates on holiday hours. See the live template here.

Location Detail Template

My Role

Co-Lead UX Architect and Digital Strategist

My Contributions

Content Strategy Brief (Co-Author)

Digital Strategy Brief (Co-Author)


Template Design (Multiple Level 1 Templates and 20+ additional Templates)


Personalization Strategy Brief (Co-Author)

Personalization Planning Documentation (Co-Author)


2018 eHealthcare Awards:

Best Site Design (Gold)

Best Internet Home Page (Gold)

Best Rich Media (Gold)

Best Overall Site Design (Gold)

© 2018 Joan Jasak