Screenshot of UMMC's new intranet
This screen capture shows a Beta version of the institution's new intranet site, scheduled to debut Oct. 16.
Main Content

Dynamic new intranet site to offer information portal to all things UMMC

Published on Monday, October 7, 2019

By: Bruce Coleman

The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s new Intranet site, scheduled to launch on Wednesday, Oct. 16, promises to enhance the way UMMC faculty, staff and students stay connected to the institution each and every day.

Offering the most comprehensive coverage of all things UMMC – including a customizable calendar of events, up-to-the-minute weather information and a robust search engine – delivered to your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, the UMMC Intranet will be unlike any information source the Medical Center has offered its internal audience, according to Tom Fortner, chief institutional advancement officer.

Portrait of Tom Fortner

“Intranets have evolved from being essentially online filing cabinets to serving as dynamic communication hubs,” Fortner said. “Our new intranet still serves as a portal to quickly get to the information or application you’re looking for, but it also will be a marketplace of news and features about what’s going on at UMMC.”

The culmination of months of painstaking work by members of UMMC Communications and Marketing, the Division of Information Systems’ Web Development Team, and literally every division, department and unit at the Medical Center, the new UMMC Intranet will afford a better user experience than any previous internal communications offering, according to John Matlock, director of communication support services.

Portrait of John Matlock

“This site is built on a content management system platform that is both responsive and filled with automated updating capabilities,” Matlock said. “Its mobile-responsive design allows the intranet to be viewed appropriately on all types of devices – smartphones, tablets, laptops and, of course, desktops.

“Every piece of information on this site from every department and every division has been reviewed for accuracy. Outdated information and dead links have been purged.”

Matlock oversaw the UMMC Intranet Conversion Team, comprised of Brighton Forester, web content coordinator in Communications and Marketing, Susan O’Bryan, web content coordinator in DIS, Rhonda McRae, senior editor-writer in C&M, and Lindsay McMurtray, digital media coordinator in C&M. He said the group contacted everyone who had a presence on the UMMC Intranet, reviewed all of their pages and updated their information. He suggested the team even audited the site to determine what helpful information might me missing from its previous iteration.

“The content conversion team has put in a lot of hours on this project and I know they are extremely excited about the prospect of it going live and seeing the fruits of their labors becoming a reality,” Matlock said.

Todd Bridges, senior web software developer in DIS and a major contributor to its development and conversion, said the key to providing an enhanced UMMC Intranet site was the content management system upon which it was built.

Todd Bridges 2021

“We wanted to move everything under one content management system so all users could have one tool to manage all of their websites,” Bridges said. “Cascade is the brand name for the content management system we use. It allows users to share content across multiple websites without having to ‘dual-enter’ it. They can post one story and not have to repost it over again on another site.

“This is going to put a lot more information at the users’ fingertips.”

Among the UMMC Intranet’s many new features are:

   • A sleeker, more modern design

At first glance, the refreshed layout of the new site gives every indication it’s no longer “your older brother’s intranet.”

“We’ve rearranged the content so users can find the things they more frequently use much more quickly, rather than having to navigate search pages,” Bridges said. “Current events and items of employees and students’ interests are right there on the front page, readily available. There are graphical icons for all of our mission areas and the site features one-click access to heavily trafficked areas.”

“With the help of DIS, we used data analytics to identify the areas UMMC employees have been visiting in order to determine what the quick links should be,” Matlock said. “Also, the clinical mission is given prominent placement near the top of the homepage in an effort to continue to support and advance our quality improvement initiatives with direct links to the clinical quality homepage and quality scorecards.”

   • Greater accessibility

UMMC employees and students are no longer “tied down” to a desk when accessing the UMMC Intranet. Dynamic sizing allows them to view the site from any web-enabled electronic device and for the content to be presented in a pleasing manner, regardless of device type.

“While we still have a large number of desktop computers on campus, the viewership of websites is clearly shifting toward mobile devices,” Matlock said. “We saw the utility of bringing the intranet up to modern website standards, embracing the mobile-responsive platform, and we made the commitment to do that. This is a fully functional, living and breathing website now.”

   • An enhanced, singular search engine

Instead of maintaining several search engines – one for employee listings, one for departmental information, etc. – the new UMMC Intranet includes a single, dynamic search interface.

“We’ve taken multiple searches and combined them into one,” Bridges said. “It’s a much more robust search engine for the site, and it’s a ‘smarter’ search with much fewer dead ends.”

   • A customizable event calendar

The new UMMC Intranet’s event calendar ties multiple calendars and event feeds into one cohesive offering. For the first time, it can be fully customizable.

“We now have one master calendar with the ability to sort and filter events with much greater specificity,” Matlock said. “You can easily create sub-calendars for specific mission areas, departments, institutes and offices – with only the applicable events for an designated area appearing on the sub-calendar.”

   • An auto-updating A-to-Z index

The A-to-Z index, which will update automatically when content is added or removed, is replacing the “Yellow Pages,” Matlock said.

“Our previous intranet was built on old, custom-coded technology and we didn’t have the capability to automatically update,” he said. “As a result, it was susceptible to broken links and was difficult to curate.”

Cascade will allow the A-to-Z index to automatically update and eliminate expired links, ensuring the resource maintains its viability.

   • A magical weather widget

Nash Mixon, senior web software developer in DIS, has designed a weather widget for the new UMMC Intranet that is likely to become one of the most popular features of the site.

“People can get up-to-the-minute weather information for their walk to the parking lot,” Bridges said. “They can click an icon to get a complete forecast and information about developing conditions. It is fully customizable and interactive, and it shows all weather alerts immediately.”

   • Enhanced promotional opportunities

Those who have information to share with the UMMC community will still be able to submit their newsworthy items for posting.

“The ability to publicize relevant, aesthetically pleasing messages on the home page is a big plus,” Matlock said. “Whether events or news articles, content will be more easily accessed and consumed in a timely manner.”

   • Student and employee-centric content

A “People of the U” section on the new UMMC Intranet’s front page will offer stories about students and employees, Dr. LouAnn Woodward’s VC Notes columns, a virtual suggestion box, and more.

“It’s all information of interest to UMMC employees and students,” Bridges said. “It’s a new content area that should become quite popular.”

Matlock said the new UMMC Intranet not only looks and performs “light years” ahead of the previous version, it is built to grow along with the institution itself.

“The new UMMC Intranet was designed, developed and implemented completely in-house by DIS,” he said. “No small undertaking: A highly customized site of this scope and functionality would have easily cost in excess of $150,000 if created by an outside vendor.

“Our web development team really rose to the occasion on this project.”

For more information about the new UMMC Intranet site, email dis-web@umc.edu.