Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is a family of five unique hospital sites, as well as a cancer centre and an urgent care centre. HHS is the second largest hospital group in Ontario, serving more than 2.3 million residents of Hamilton and south central Ontario.

HHS’ external website is the primary touch point for many patients, families, prospective employees and community partners, receiving thousands of visits per day and millions of visits per year.

The previous website was overly complex, with several microsites for groups such as research, education, careers and the hospital-specific sites. This resulted in a confusing user experience, disjointed navigation, and sites which did not reflect the common HHS brand. Because of the disjointed site, the community was unaware that servicing hospitals like Hamilton General Hospital belonged to the broader health system and the shared benefits of the diversity of services. In 2018, the organization decided to redevelop their web ecosphere to better serve the public and its stakeholders.

  • Modernize the current infrastructure to enhance security
  • Design an intuitive and user-friendly site by consulting with key stakeholders
  • Establish a new site management structure, and content management with centralized accountability to ensure quality and adherence to AODA standards


Sandbox supported HHS throughout the website development life-cycle, providing discovery and research activities to supplement work already done by HHS, and then making recommendations for features, flow, information architecture, and page structure. A significant amount of time was spent on the IA and dramatically reducing page count, reviewing content and establishing a migration strategy which was supplemented by supporting tools provided by Sandbox. Wireframes were used to support creative design efforts which reflected the corporate brand and the culture of HHS. The site was built in the WordPress content management system and offers several patient-centred features, including way-finding tools, an easy-to-use location and program/services lookup solution, and a concierge tool which offers an alternative means of accessing content at the site from the primary navigation. The site includes a comprehensive search feature, integrates with social media, allows for quick public feedback, and is AODA compliant.


The new HHS website also streamlines the user experience, especially for patients and their families, by integrating the organization’s most utilized microsites under one website. This has allowed the organization to reinforce the HHS brand across all hospital sub-sites, reduce the publishing of redundant information across sites, and cleverly allows for some unique branding opportunities. For example, the McMaster Children’s Hospital pages provide a more whimsical feeling within the HHS page structure, while maintaining the brand standard.

HHS Website Screenshot image shadow

"Throughout the process we have received an exemplary level of service from Sandbox, including strong project management support, thoughtful attention to detail, and a demonstrated appreciation and sensitivity toward the complexities that come part and parcel with a large-scale health organization."

— Calyn Pettit, Director, Communications & Marketing, Hamilton Health Sciences

To ensure everyone that was part of the dynamic stakeholder group we conducted a range of requirement gathering activities as part of our Digital Strategy for the project. This included workshops with staff such as volunteers and physicians as well as patient families and the wider community.

> Digital Strategy & Consulting

The new HHS website was built using the WordPress content management system, allowing site administrators to easily maintain and update elements of the site as needed as well as providing a mature, cost effective solution capable of managing an enterprise level website.

> WordPress Development

HHS worked with our technical team to ensure their new site AODA and W3C standards ensuring a level of compliance that allows those who are differently abled to access and utilize all the great new features and functionality present in the new website.

> Auditing & Quality Assurance