Project milestone: New WMAA website enhances connections with MD alumni

On August 28, 2023, the new website for the Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association launched. This is the second of four site launch events associated with this project.

Founded in 1956, the mission of WMAA is to “create lasting relationships between the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health alumni and students by visibly supporting our alumni and students and advancing the mission of the school.” The organization serves over 8,000 alumni of the Doctor of Medicine program and current medical students.

Previously, WMAA content was housed within the UW School of Medicine and Public Health’s site at With the launch of the new WMAA site, the school’s alumni page has been updated to include alumni relations activities for all health professions degree programs offered by the school.

The decision to move WMAA content to a subdomain website was made after careful analysis of site analytics. This evaluation indicated that transfer to a standalone site would have little to no negative impact on search result placement of WMAA and that a subdomain site would better align with WMAA user interests and behavior.

Addressing the unique needs of MD alumni

WMAA’s innovative programming centers on current medical students and helps to build bonds from the moment they begin the MD program. WMAA fosters connections between students and alumni through events, networking, and encouraging alumni to give to funds that support students. As a result, WMAA web users span multiple generations, requiring consideration of a broad variety of experiences and perspectives.

WMAA Executive Director Sarah Brown Rothschild partnered with the digital strategy team to identify web functionality that would be critical to advancing the work of the program. “There are several features of the new site that will certainly help advance our mission, such as making it easier to submit award nominations, one-click access to online giving forms for priority funds including class scholarships and the WMAA Fund, and an event plugin that provides a comprehensive calendar of all alumni and student events,” said Rothschild.

Home page of WMAA web site featuring menu navigation at the top of the page, a banner image showing five medical students wearing white coats and two wearing stethoscopes around their necks next to the Bucky Badger mascot and holding a sign saying "we love our Badger MDs,." Additional menu buttons in the middle of the page say "Upcoming Events," "Class Notes," and "Update Your Info."

Because alumni engagement hinges on accurate contact information and event registration, new forms were implemented thoughtfully and streamlined for ease of use and maintenance. Top menu navigation contains a link to “Update Your Info” with form fields designed to capture data on programs that are most important to each graduate. A new alumni award nomination form combined what had previously been five documents into one form that uses if/then logic to display appropriate fields for each nomination. Similarly, 13 reunion update forms were condensed into to a total of two forms. All forms are embedded, providing a visually cohesive experience that keeps users within the website. This helps build trust and boosts form completion rates.

Enhanced digital format of Quarterly periodical

Alumni-and-friends periodical Quarterly has been a point of pride for WMAA over many decades, beginning with a Wisconsin Medical Alumni newsletter series in the 1950s that evolved to a full print magazine format that is released four times each year (hence the name).

The landing page for Quarterly periodical includes a section at the top of the page for elevating featured stories. A heading at the top says "Featured Quarterly Articles" on the left with a button on the right saying "Share Your News." Below this are photos, titles, and issue dates, volumes, and numbers for three featured stories titled "Improving Babies' Quality of Life," "Family of Badgers Creates Scholarship," and "The Science of Mentorship."

The new WMAA website enhances the digital presence of Quarterly by incorporating a link into the top navigation menu and designating a section where specific articles can be elevated. Improved Quarterly search functionality allows users to explore articles by keyword and to filter by story type and publication date, making it easier to find topics of interest and access alumni-specific content such as class notes.

Kristi Whitman, Quarterly magazine managing editor, feels the updates will help engage readers. “The new site for the magazine has an expanded archive of articles and a robust search feature to locate content published in the past. These improvements will help the school’s alumni, friends, faculty, and staff continue to enjoy the wide variety of articles we create to showcase the people and programs that make the school special,” said Whitman.

Promoting events and giving

By convening dozens of gatherings throughout the year, WMAA drives connections within and between classes of alumni. An events WordPress plugin showcases the scope of WMAA’s alumni and student engagement events by allowing users to search by keywords, filter based on category, audience, and location, and viewing by list, month, or a concise summary.

An intentional approach to philanthropy incorporates testimonials throughout the site about individual motivations to give. It also makes the act of giving seamless by offering one-click options for popular funds including class year giving options which are presented in a searchable table. This enables direct links to custom URLs created for Wisconsin Medicine: The Future Needs Us Now, which is the comprehensive campaign to raise $500M and cultivate 100,000 individual donors by the end of 2025 to address some of the largest challenges in health care, research and education.

Photo of alumnus Gabe Sobczak, MD class of 2022, shown on the left. Gabe is wearing a white coat and stethoscope. To the right of the image is the quote, "UW's medical school curriculum thoroughly prepare due for busy residency rotations. A cornerstone of that curriculum is alumni support and mentorship."

The site received positive reactions during a recent WMAA Board of Directors meeting.

“I cannot say enough positive things about our new digital home and the experience of working with the digital strategy team,” said Rothschild.

“I so appreciated the easy blending of their expertise and our feedback. The result is a more accurate and vibrant representation of the WMAA.”