SSAI website update

Website in question:

This is a site for the society for Scandinavian doctors in anaesthesia, acute medicine, pain medicine, and intensive care, about 4000 doctors total. It oversees our international relations, it develops practice guidelines, it governs subspecialty fellowship training programmes, it runs a journal, it does a biennial scientific congress etc.


  • overall a top-down static content information site
  • design was set up as presented in the design sketch (see dropbox link at bottom). However, the current design has broken somewhat with transition to newer wordpress core with Gutenberg
  • hard coded theme, doesn’t play with Gutenberg editor. Impossible to update to other theme without a significant effort as it breaks the layout across numerous pages / posts
  • main pages host directory to subpages
  • advanced custom fields
  • about 70 pages, 70 posts
  • all content is maintained by the webmaster with some future help by less tech savvy person
  • a couple of forms, a newsletter, an event calendar, all defunct
  • messy front page with the intention of a blocky responsive layout, but hard to navigate and doesn’t at all have a helpful UI / UX

Wishlist, two fold

We need (1) visual and functional overhaul and (2) new functionality. The visual / theme update is more urgent, but both would preferably be done prior to 06/2022.

1. Visual and functional overhaul

Overall we need input to design, coding and usability

  • check the dropbox link at bottom of post for current theme, design presentation and design elements from the web agency who developed it
  • we don’t need a de novo design language, but the main page needs a new layout
  • we need a theme set up to work with newest Gutenberg core assuming we continue with WordPress CMS. A blocky theme (blocksy, kadence or similar) might be future proof
  • it needs to work responsively across all platforms/screen sizes
  • we have 4 main domains of activity (see top menu items: congress, journal, education, guidelines), our main DNA which we need to sell visually
  • the main page would benefit from a vertical flow of sections instead, please come with design input
  • calendar needs to be worked on and styled
  • news feed needs a more appropriate section where timeline is easier to appreciate and with an archive that is accessible/searchable
  • we need featured images to work on different view ports and have “safe limit” photoshop dimensions (ie a template to go by so important text stays viewable no matter viewport). 16:9 might be preferable as easier if embedding video thumbnails, but happy to take advice
  • the contact form needs to be behind a FAQ, as we have way too many silly/spam questions
  • we expect good practice code with good documentation. A page design using page builder (whether Gutenberg, elementor or similar) might be beneficial for future revisions. While the current webmaster has OK web tech skills and happy to adjust css and minor details, delving into php is not an option
  • the theme should have central control of fonts, colour scheme and styling of often-used elements like buttons and tables
  • we would be happy to receive input on whether new content is best done with gutenberg editor or more custom page / post template

2. New functionality

2.1. Logged in user functionality

  • predefined user groups (7 groups – 1 for each educational program) with about 30 persons each in a 2-year period and 2 administrative groups (SSAI board, Acta Foundation board)
  • different roles: members, administrator, teachers
  • administrator: Group members need to be changed easily after the 2 year period (possible to do by a secretary)
  • teachers are course leaders and main content providers

2.2 User group functionality including

  • discussion boards and forums
  • sharing of calendar items to a shared calendar and planning meetings
  • sharing of files in a folder like structure, which is possible to change by members
  • putting up timelines / calendar stuff
  • making posts with content including pictures / videos
  • teachers need to make quizzes, in particular MCQs to test attendees of meetings for retention
  • integration with zoom might be helpful

2.3. Conferences

Also, of less importance, we currently spend money on conference agencies to set up online presence (currently of our biennial conferences which are quite simple and would do well to be under the main domain, both to save costs, but also just because it would drive traffic through the main site and from a UX perspective makes more sense to not have multiple domains.

2.4 e-learning

We may want to develop e-learning modules down the line, but that is not an immediate focus and we do not currently need to set up proper e-learning courses nor any woocommerce or pay solution.

3. Current thinking on possible solutions

We would be happy to stay with and extend wordpress as the backbone, but remain open to other ideas in case there are strong arguments for it.

The member functionality part is no doubt the bigger backend challenge. The webmaster has tested the waters on a test copy of our site with the buddyboss platform plugin (for forums and social messaging), coupled with a user access plugin like memberpress. I have also used the buddyboss theme which we also have a license for.

We have been leaning toward learndash for its easy integration with buddyboss for MCQs and potential elearning. Those are our thoughts so far.

If going with these plugins (or similar mix) they would of course need finessing and styling to work functionally and aesthetically with the site and be easy to maintain. Crucially, we do not have full time secretarial input to set up users, user rights, upload MCQs etc, nor for ongoing maintenance, so it needs to be pretty straightforward and guide the user well so group admins can do the bulk of this. Some onboarding or user documentation might be helpful.

4. Challenges and demands

We demand  specific experience both frontend and backend with focus on design, functionality and changeability. After the working process development of functionality and visual layouts should be possible for a webmaster of the society. 

As we do not possess a full time developer we are aware that we need input on fundamental choices.

Stability and security is important, so this needs to be included in the work process. We need GDPR compliance. Trainees also may post patient cases that cannot be placed openly to the public eye.

Speed might be an issue for us too. We are currently on wordpress optimised shared hosting at, but I suppose we may need more umph for a user site, even if the number of logged in active users will probably be quite small at any given time.

To check visual identity and presentation thereof (we would mostly want to stick with color scheme and graphic design elements), see the dropbox folder below. The key brief is a consistent minimalist Scandinavian design. We think it currently works well except for the main page.

We prioritise companies  with a track record and also looking at the long game for ongoing support as needed at reasonable rates.

Crucially, we need good practice code for later updates. It will be necessary to share the inner workings with the webmaster to make sure he can take over.

Please provide a provisional project plan including time-schedule and non-binding budget.

Link to dropbox folder:

Navigate to

  • “2017 redesign” folder for sketches of the original webpage design
  • “identity elements” folder for logo graphics
  • ssai_guidelines.pdf in root of directory for brand guidelines
Mads Astvad

Scandinavian paediatric anaesthetist / intensivist.
Digital MedEd
Co-organiser CphCC & TBS-Zermatt (aka The Big Sick)
Medical lead REPEL (resilience in pediatric emergency life support)
Web dev

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