project case study

Northern Alberta Vascular Centre Website



The Challenge

Northern Alberta Vascular Centre is a world-class vascular surgery centre located in Edmonton, but they had no web presence. Serving a referral population of 2.3 million residents, a website that served as an informational tool for patients and family members was a must – and on top of serving that information intuitively and empathetically, the site also needed to reflect the extremely high level of competency, approachability, and skill of the team behind NAVC.

The Solution

We partnered with the client to design and develop a custom site, powered by WordPress, that puts user’s needs and the people of NAVC first. A unique grid layout and flexible WordPress implementation makes site content – like the Patient Journey and related Conditions and Procedures – easy to manage on the back-end and find on the front. A mobile-first responsive build as usual, NAVC’s new site is a leader in their field while clocking a blazing 98% PageSpeed Score.

Key Project Features

  • UX
  • Site Architecture
  • Prototyping
  • Visual Design
  • Responsive Front-End Dev
  • WordPress Integration
  • Quality Assurance Testing
  • Performance Optimization
  • View Live Site

The Details

Northern Alberta Vascular Centre is a specialized program located in the Grey Nuns hospital in Edmonton. Under the Covenant Health banner, NAVC attracts top surgical specialists in the field and performs about 2,300 procedures a year. It was our job, then, to work with NAVC’s internal project team to create an easy-to-manage site for the program that helped patients, family members, and staff find the information they needed.

It’s a very stressful thing, to face vascular surgery as a patient. The procedures, journey, and recovery are largely foreign to most people facing them. With that in mind, we approached the site with that context: let’s give patients (and families of patients) all the information they need to feel at ease about their procedure. Further to that point, let’s showcase the welcoming faces of the actual people – the surgical specialists – at NAVC, and communicate their expertise very plainly.

mobile mockup

Building Trust through Content & Design

Once the users were defined and site structure in place, we had a dedicated resource on the client side to write the copy (thanks Neill)! As well, we brought in Detour Photography for a half day to capture journalistic style photos alongside portraits of the team. This combination of user-focused photography and content drove the design and overall project.

A core piece of the website is the Patient Journey section, wherein a patient or family member can select their upcoming procedure. The site then returns a step-by-step outline of what the patient can expect on their day of surgery. It’s a simple, unique, and effective way to ease the patient and family’s stress just a little bit.


The site is a mobile-first, custom-designed responsive site built using WordPress as a CMS. We’re serving viewport-specific images using Waldo, our open source responsive images tool for WordPress, and the framework is a stripped-down, only-what’s-needed version of Bootstrap. The complex layouts you see on the home page are handled via Advanced Custom Fields, and the site is running on a LEMP stack via Rackspace Cloud – which, combined proper optimization efforts, lends to a sub-30-request, ~1s page load and resulting Pagespeed grade of A.


Overall, the NAVC site is one that approaches core users’ needs and context with empathy. The subject matter needed to be handled that way, and presented in a way that builds trust and confidence in the team at NAVC. It couldn’t have happened without a dedicated client – one who was a joy to work with and truly bought in to the quality and outcome of the project.

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