mclean hospital research

McLean Research site

The McLean Hospital research site
(click to visit site)

I designed the McLean Research web site shortly after starting work as the hospital's administrator of research information systems in 2001. The main function of the site was to disseminate information about the hospital's growing research community, but it also contained information for researchers, making it somewhat like an intranet mixed with a public site.

When I created the site the research department had maintained an existing site, but it was designed in a piecemeal fashion by more than one person. I used the older site for source material, and also collected material from people in the research community. The design utilized a centered, fixed-width table with a simple white background for easy readability. Originally the site was hosted behind a fractional T1 line, so bandwidth concerns shaped much of the design and it contained few images. Later I updated the site with a more image-based design, which required an infinite number of nested tables but looked nicer and rendered the same in all browsers.

In late 2003 the hospital and research group jointly decided to move the public content of the research site onto the main hospital website, leaving the research site as an intranet. I rebuilt it with PHP and CSS. The design is much simpler and nicer looking, though it does not support 4.x browsers. I integrated the site with a webmail client shortly thereafter, and united the design of the webmail and intranet under a common domain name and SSL certificate in early 2006. The site uses mod_rewrite in Apache to force visitors into the SSL-protected site when accessing webmail.