Ottawa’s OPIN Software hired as digital agency for Toronto children’s hospital

Local open-source web development firm is tasked with building a new web presence for Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
The OPIN Software web development team posts in the firm's office.

As a healthcare centre for children and youth with disabilities, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital does all it can to not feel like a hospital.

The Toronto-based hospital is flooded with natural light and boasts a picturesque rock garden on its grounds. The interior and exterior are both decorated with neutral colours and natural materials, including zinc, wood and brick. Its walls are lined with several unique and interactive art pieces.

“As a children’s hospital, we know that dealing with the healthcare system can be stressful,” says Stewart Wong, Holland Bloorview’s vice-president of communications, marketing and advocacy.

The ultimate goal is to make the atmosphere as inviting as possible for clients – who are primarily children and youth with physical or cognitive disabilities – and their families.

“It’s a special place,” says Wong.

The hospital has a clear vision of the impression it wants to make with its physical space. Translating that into Holland Bloorview’s online presence recently fell to Ottawa-based OPIN Software, a digital agency specializing in open-source web development.

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, as seen from the front.

From five to one

As Holland Bloorview’s new digital agency, one of the tasks OPIN will handle is merging the hospital’s five websites into one. At present, there are separate sites for the various bodies of the hospital, including its foundation.

Although Holland Bloorview’s existing web presence is robust and contains a great deal of information for clients, families, researchers, donors and community members, the new site is expected to streamline the navigation process.

“Presenting information in a helpful way and in a way that’s relevant to our population is going to make the experience feel more warm and inviting for kids, youth and families,” says Wong.

To prepare for the project, OPIN is drawing on its past experiences working with clients in the healthcare sector, such as Cancer Care Ontario, Northern Health in British Columbia, Accreditation Canada and the New Brunswick Health Council.

Its first step is conducting discovery sessions and surveys with Holland Bloorview stakeholders, as a way to gather feedback from medical staff, foundation members and the young clients of Holland Bloorview.

Building relationships

Every two weeks, the OPIN web development team provides an update to Holland Bloorview on their progress and shares their work to date. This allows the hospital’s staff to weigh in on what they like, what needs to change and where they’d like the web development team to focus their efforts in the coming weeks.

The OPIN team also travelled to Toronto to see the work that Holland Bloorview does first-hand. Members of the firm’s web development team sat in on a hospital staff meeting and had the opportunity to meet
several stakeholders, including clients, families and care providers.

“It helped us gain an understanding of how the organization operates,” says Rebecca Dagenais, a designer at OPIN. “There are many different stakeholders, and being able to speak with them and understand what they want to get out of the website was really important.”

The trip also advanced the trust between the two organizations, a necessary ingredient for a project of this scope and scale.

Stewart Wong, seated at his desk.
Stewart Wong, Holland Bloorview’s vice-president of communications, marketing and advocacy.

Drupal & open source

When Holland Bloorview set out to choose a digital agency, the hospital was drawn to OPIN for several reasons. In addition to the collaborative work process and glowing testimonials from other clients, the firm is one of a growing number of web development firms working on the Drupal platform.

“The Drupal CMS, as an open-source technology, is flexible, secure and it suits our business needs in terms of what we want to do, both today and in the future,” says Wong.

The Drupal community has members all around the world, with approximately five per cent of websites running on the platform. These include Twitter, Tesla and numerous Government of Canada departments and provincial ministries. OPIN’s enterprise clients include Alimentation Couche-Tard, Irving Oil and the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

“The really important part of the open-source software is that we’re not limited in what we can do for our clients,” says Dagenais.

Drupal enables and encourages software developers from all over the world to collaborate. Many companies choose it for the fact that the platform can be adapted as a firm’s business needs evolve and as new  modules develop over time.

Holland Bloorview’s new website is expected to go live in early 2019.

For a look at other OPIN projects, head to OPIN.ca/en/showcase.

Developer perspective

For the team at OPIN Software, an important part of any partnership is learning about the organization with which they’re working.

With Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, it was integral for the web development team to gain an understanding of the work the facility does.

Tina Sollows was among a cohort from OPIN that travelled to Toronto to meet with Holland Bloorview staff, clients and volunteers. She works for the agency as a product manager.

“I really value the opportunity to work on a project that is for the common good,” says Sollows. “I feel very privileged to help an organization that has such importance in the community.”

OPIN is currently growing. Learn more about the digital agency and its available positions at OPIN.ca/jobs.