Brookdale Borrows from Hotel Industry in Website Redesign

In an effort to better speak to potential customers, the largest senior living provider in the country has invested in a $4 million redesign of its website, turning to the hotel, travel and real estate industries for inspiration.

Brentwood, Tennessee-based Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) has more than 1,100 senior living communities in 47 states. The company’s website attracts more than 500,000 visits per month, according to a press release.

That’s a lot of potential customers—but Brookdale’s website wasn’t properly catering to them, Michael McCamish, Brookdale’s director of web development, told Senior Housing News. That’s partly because Brookdale’s website used to use senior living industry terms that made sense to Brookdale, but not necessarily to customers.

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“We were using our vernacular, versus the customers’ vernacular,” McCamish said.

All in all, Brookdale’s previous website wasn’t as customer-friendly as the company would have liked. In response, the provider analyzed what millions of people were doing on its website, held focus groups with customers and met with community-level Brookdale employees to better understand their impressions of the company’s website.

Brookdale’s new website borrows from other websites the provider, through data, knows its customers regularly visit—hotel sites, real estate sites, travel sites and social media sites. That way, McCamish said, customers wouldn’t be confused or overwhelmed by Brookdale’s website.

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Later this fall, in the second phase of the website redesign, Brookdale will implement a live chat feature, for instance, as well as ratings and reviews.

“We tried to take little hints from what these other websites were doing,” McCamish explained. “When customers come to Brookdale’s website—and they’re trying to learn about senior living and make a major life decision—we wanted to make sure how to use the website is not something they have to think about.”

The website redesign project began in January, though the research involved began in the third quarter of 2015, McCamish said. The first phase of the website redesign launched in mid-August; the second phase, in addition to ratings, reviews and live chat, will include increased accessibility for mobile devices, according to a Brookdale press release. The first phase was a $4 million investment.

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Additionally, more website elements will be implemented in 2017, including a feature that will allow family members involved in the decision process to share information with each other.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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