OHNC: Website redevelopment


Introduction: OHNC, Dr. Neubauer and HBOT

Neubauer2The Ocean Hyperbaric Neurologic Center (OHNC) is a South Florida medical facility that uses hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat severe neurological injuries, such as Cerebral Palsy, birth defects, near-drownings, stroke, and traumas.

Richard Neubauer M.D. (1922-2007), who founded the OHNC and acted as its Medical Director for thirty-five years, is considered the “father” of HBOT for neurological rehabilitation. He earned a worldwide reputation for integrity and scientific rigor.

Here is an excellent ten minute video introduction to Dr. Neubauer and his pioneering use of HBOT, “The Recoverable Brain” (Parts 2 & 3 are located here and here).

Dr. Neubauer’s retention of me to evaluate OHNC’s promotional media and website

Dr. Neubauer retained me in 1999 in order to:

  • Redesign/reconstruct OHNC media assets that he discovered, or that I pointed out, were in terrible shape (Examples: Patient documentary case study video; print ad)
  • Provide general creative, marketing and business consulting

One of Dr. Neubauer’s top priorities, however, was to investigate feedback he’d heard from physician and scientist colleagues that the OHNC’s website had serious content and design problems. As Dr. Neubauer did not use computers himself, and as he was traveling so extensively during this period, he tasked me with:

  • Conduct a top-to-bottom analysis of the OHNC website
  • Construct a report of my findings
  • Demonstrate the validity of my findings, via personal consultations with Dr. Neubauer in front of a computer
  • Make recommendations for how to solve identified problems

My findings

My investigation revealed serious, systemic problems with the entire OHNC website – first and foremost:

  • 177 spelling and/or grammatical errors
  • 24 non-functioning links to both internal and external content
  • A lack of an intelligible content architecture; the materials had been strung together over a long period of time, by a person who “tinkered” with websites, but had zero experience in copy development or organization

Upon discovering this information and allowing me to validate it, Dr. Neubauer acknowledged that this was another* outgrowth of his misplaced trust – in his then-Director of Marketing & PR, and in the internal HBOT technician who constructed the website, under his supervision. (*The other being OHNC’s patient case study videos, which Dr. Neubauer retained me to completely reconstruct, over a period of six months; see his letter of recommendation for me at the end of this page.)

Dr. Neubauer then tasked me with doing everything necessary to oversee the reconstruction of the OHNC’s website.

My work to redevelop the OHNC website, from the ground up

The first thing I requested of Dr. Neubauer was time each week where we could get together in a quiet environment so that I could explain basic Web terminology, guide him through the OHNC’s website and proposed changes, and discuss overall content architecture.  Dr. Neubauer agreed, and was soon fairly fluent on the technology, and on the massive problems that plagued the existing site.  Together, we developed new content “maps,” ideas for new features, etc.

Ultimately, over the course of the next six months, I:

  • Developed a graphical “map” of the new site, with an integrated “coding” system, showing the status of each element
  • Rewrote all the copy on the website (which also was organized it into the coding system)
  • Generated a conceptual design for the front page and user interface
  • Directed a website programmer to stitch together the new site

The graphical “content map” and copy elements that I created

Ocean Hyperbaric Center – Website Reconstruction by jonsutz on Scribd


My design for a completely new front page for the OHNC site

The following screencap was the existing front page of the OHNC site.  It was another example of the its producers’ total lack of design sense, and respect for the reader’s experience.  Although it presumably was meant to illustrate the fact that the OHNC provides treatment to children with severe neurological traumas, there was nothing else – no links, no menu, etc., except for some copy beneath the illustration.  The only way to navigate past this page was to click on this graphic.

Dr. Neubauer authorized me to take a completely fresh approach to designing the new front page of the site.

My new website front page design

The following was the result, which integrated the new “HBO2” logo and letterhead fontography that I designed for Dr. Neubauer:

The result: A website that Dr. Neubauer was thrilled with

The result of all of my and Dr. Neubauer’s work was a completely new OHNC website that, as I assured him, he’d be proud of for many years to come, and that would be a platform upon which to confidently build new content.

The following is an excerpt of the letter of recommendation that Dr. Neubauer wrote for me, shortly before I relocated from South Florida to Charlottesville, VA:

“When I retained Jon, I had high hopes, but no expectations. Until that time, OHNC had been ill-served by its public relations and creative/media consultants. […]

“Jon has proven to be a multi-talented, exceptionally valuable asset to OHNC. Jon’s work… required that he research, analyze, deconstruct, then reconstruct OHNC’s existing media, and consult on overall strategies – and even business operations, down to the smallest detail. In all of the above work realms, Jon has performed exceptionally well, and the results became apparent soon after our affiliation began. Our business has increased significantly, and we are much better organized. OHNC has received compliments from all over the world regarding the media that Jon reconstructed (particularly our videos and website).” […]

Richard A. Neubauer, MD, Medical Director, Ocean Hyperbaric-Neurologic Center, December 14, 2002


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