Realizing The Possibilities

We’ve all experienced that “wow!” moment, when encountering an impressive looking website. Maybe the designers nailed the aesthetics, or effectively utilized a new display technique. Probably the first time seeing a rotating carousel, or parallax scrolling, or fluid scaling - our attention was captured.

And then, remembering that we came to the site for a reason, we scan, click, and scroll to find what we want. How easy that is - or how difficult - will determine whether we have a meaningful and rewarding interaction with the site, and the company behind it.

If you are considering a redesign or rebuild of a life science website, you have an amazing opportunity before you. A website can be many things - it can be a “pretty face”, it can be an encyclopedic repository of data, or it can showcase some of the latest trends in web development technology. None of those things, especially by themselves, will assure a significant impact on visitors.

Much more (and in some ways, much less) is needed to make a life science website truly successful.

Higher Goals

Many websites measure success by tracking a conversion rate - the percentage of visitors who end up completing a desired transaction, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. If a retail company’s website generates a high rate of sales, or gets people involved with feedback or discussions, then the website is doing its job.

A site for a life science company has a more complex set of goals. It needs to educate and engage multiple audience segments (patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, industry peers, potential employees, potential investors). It needs to cover background and science. It needs to inspire trust in a substantial way. It needs to be completely current, delivering the most up to date information and news.

In short, it has to do a much bigger job than the average corporate website. It has to paint a more detailed picture. And it needs to use an altogether different palette of colors in doing it.

Be Helpful

A visitor isn’t coming to a life science website because they want to be technically dazzled, or view a breathtaking design. They’re coming because they want help. They may want help understanding how a life science innovation can benefit them, or a family member or patient. They may want help understanding the importance of a life science company within the industry, so they can make career or investment choices.

Anything that is designed or built into a life science website should be about giving visitors what they need and want. If it doesn’t do that - or worse, slows them down - then we are hindering instead of helping. Technology and design are there to serve the purpose of being helpful - not to steal the show.

Be Direct

If you had the chance to speak in person to a vast mixed group of target audience members, you probably wouldn’t start off by describing abstract scenes loosely related to the focus of your business. “Imagine a sunny beach, and a sky filled with wispy clouds, and a family walking together…” This might eventually lead to a point about the quality of life that your company is championing. But if you have 30 minutes to speak and spend 20 minutes getting to the point, your audience is not likely to take you seriously, and will probably stop listening.

The right imagery on a website can set the tone for what you want to communicate, and impart the essence of what you’re about faster than words. But it can also overtake the attention of your audience and carry them away from what they came for. When speaking in person, we need to engage an audience within a matter of minutes. On the web, those minutes are reduced to seconds.

Generally, up to 99% of initial visitors to a website will click away prematurely, often without reading anything or engaging in any way. This is true, even if they come to the site with a purpose. That’s a huge percentage, and overcoming that problem can seem like an impossible challenge. But it isn’t. All we have to do is give them exactly what they’re looking for.

Be Focused

This is about narrowing down the choices for the user, and primarily has to do with a website’s home page. The home page is where the battle for the user’s attention is most frequently fought, and lost. If there are too many different kinds of information, or too many calls to action, a user is more likely to give up and do nothing.

If you can prioritize the two or three most essential pieces of information (or engagement tools), and let others be relegated to interior sections, you’ll stand a much better chance of drawing the user in. The “mobile first” development strategy is helpful when considering priorities because it forces you to think about ordering (since small screens can generally accommodate stacked on top of each other, in a vertical list).

Be Real

Stock imagery and matter-of-fact content can serve the purpose of explaining your business, to some extent. But they will not stick in the user’s mind, or make them curious, or intrigued. To do that, you have to tell a real story. Your business is unique. The people in your company are unique. The ideas that drove the inception and growth of your company are unique. In the life science industry, you must be unique in order to succeed. The more you let website visitors in on your true identity, your passion for what you do, the more they will become engaged and believe in you.

Use real photos of the people in your company, and of your offices and facilities. Get real quotes and personal insights from every facet of your business. Think about how your story will resonate with each segment of your audience, and feature content that speaks directly to them.

Be Powerful

In creating a website for a life science company, it’s almost difficult to not be powerful. What we’re sharing has the potential to change people’s lives. If we focus on that, and give the user nothing more or less than the easiest bridge to cross to become immersed and engaged, then we’ll have a phenomenal impact.