Elias Jones — Case Study

When it works...

In-house creative services are typically asked to fill the very specific role of executing on the ideas generated by their internal clients (sales, marketing, executives, etc.). When transformative projects do hit our desks, we're often asked to partner with an external resource (agency) to take advantage of their research and design capabilities. As the creative services lead, my approach is much more entrepreneurial with regard to the work we take on. Waiting to execute on others' initiatives leaves us vulnerable to undesirable perceptions and diminished recognition for our capabilities. To maximize our value, my team looks for unsolicited opportunities to improve existing media and experiment with new ideas, with a sharp focus on researching user needs and delivering human-centered solutions. The following case study demonstrates the positive results structured experimentation can yield.

Case Study: Redesign of Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release Patient Education Website

Client: MicroAire Surgical Instruments
Team:  In-House Creative Services
            Creative Director: Elias Jones | Designer/Developer: Sarah Martin | Developer: Dalton States

Output: mycarpltunnel.org | 2015 GDUSA Health + Wellness Design Award

Problem statement:
The website (mycarpaltunnel.com) which provides patients suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome with information regarding symptoms and treatment options receives a low volume of traffic and fails to drive new patients to surgeons trained in the endoscopic carpal tunnel release procedure.

Starting point:
Circa 2011 version of mycarpaltunnel.org

What if we could transform the existing patient education website into a highly-discoverable property that doubles incoming traffic (at a minimum), expands accessibility, and elevates patient awareness of the endoscopic carpal tunnel release procedure driving a measurable increase in demand for trained surgeons?

Key research discoveries:

  • 60% of traffic to the existing site comes from mobile devices users
  • current site is not optimized for mobile device viewing
  • site is translated into 13 languages (each language has it's own URL)
  • multiple URL versions of the same content (even though unique in language) negatively impacts SEO
  • site receives high volume of visits from an additional 8 countries for which the content is not translated

Design brief:
Leverage existing (indexed) content to build a highly-discoverable digital property that is accessible on mobile devices, displays content in the native language of 22 countries, engages users beyond the landing page, and is scalable across additional products in need of patient education support.


  • built on responsive framework
  • unifies multiple URLs into one platform (displays in 22 native languages)
  • auto-detects geolocation and displays content in language of origin
  • friendly and engaging design (illustration, color)
  • rebuild database and "surgeon locator" mechanism


Key results (post launch):
Yes, the new site won a design award from Graphic Design USA and yes, the team celebrated. In-house crews don't receive a lot of accolades from internal clients, let alone from a popular showcase of design talent. Any opportunity to lift moral is a welcome change of pace for in-house managers.


That's just good design. We're after transformative design and that requires measurable positive results for users and stakeholders. Great design makes things better than they were. We're not turning down any rewards, but that is just icing on the cake.

Here's what we're able to share with our stakeholders when they ask why we launched this initiative...

Total traffic to MyCarpalTunnel.org:

  • June 1, 2010 – Oct 30, 2014 (previous version of MyCarpalTunnel.org) = 47,911 total unique visitors
  • Oct 31, 2014 – Apr 29, 2016 (post redesign launch of MyCarpalTunnel.org) = 206,137 total unique visitors 

Total increase of traffic post redesign = +330.25% over previous 4 ½ years
Total increase of traffic via mobile device = +4,031% over previous 4 ½ years

Increase in traffic from key markets:

  • total increase of traffic from United Kingdom = +119%
  • total increase of traffic from Philippines = +6,500
  • total increase of traffic from Australia = +9,025%
  • total increase of traffic from India = +5,123%

Cost savings:

Estimate for research + design/development/SEO from (unnamed) agency: $68,480
Total cost of continuously running Google AdWords campaign (Feb 9, 2011 – Apr 29, 2016): $27, 034
Total cost of project in-house (overhead): $13,000
Savings: $28,446

Future iterations:
No, those traffic numbers on their own wouldn't knock anyone's socks off. But by comparison to the previous four years of engagement with the site, they're pretty astronomical.

Because we built this site with scalability in mind, we have options (and ideas for experimentation):

  • patient testimony — add dynamic content via forum feature soliciting patient testimonies
  • social media — drive traffic to site via social media queries that populate patient forum
  • additional procedures — leverage platform to build patient sites in support of 3 additional products
  • additional languages — we're global baby!
  • ask a surgeon?  — we'll see what the FDA has to say

Your stakeholders can easily be guided by bias (we all can), not necessarily focusing on what the user needs in order to remain highly engaged with your website (or product). Look for opportunities to experiment with new ideas and follow a (design thinking) process of documenting your discoveries. Insights about what works and what would amaze stakeholders and users are abundant if you're looking. 

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