Is it time to change the pharma product website model ?

Influencer-thumb-580x352-3545It’s hard to tell one pharma product website from another these days.  They tend to all look the same with a lot of text and copy but in an online world where attention is at a premium that model may not be enough to sustain a lift in conversion.  According to Fast Company creative visionary’ Joe Stewart, Partner and Global Creative Director at HUGE, a New York Based Digital Agency.“The ability to instantly communicate through imagry now seems to transcend everything for businesses, for content-creators, for e-commerce companies, for mass brands.”. In other words design and visuals are becoming a bigger part of online website strategy.

“We now understand that humans can parse tons of VISUAL INFORMATION quickly. The ratio of your time to your satisfaction is high.”   If you watch people scroll through blogs and social networks, they just go and go. Brands should embrace that behavior but can pharma, for once. embrace this behavior without being late to a party that’s already over ?

Most pharma product websites are not only too heavy on text that text is often too hard for average users to understand.  When consumer come to your product website they are coming there for a particular reason and it’s our job to make sure that they get the information they need in a way that helps them make better informed healthcare treatment decisions.

Nexium is one of the top prescription drugs in the US but their website is too heavy with text and has too many calls to action
Nexium is one of the top prescription drugs in the US but their website is too heavy with text and has too many calls to action

Am I suggesting a pharma product website full of info graphics ?  Of course not.  What I am suggesting is a design strategy using images of real people that reflect how your brand can help them feel and less text that takes up 90% of the page.   As Akshay Kothari says ” Navigation Matters Too “I think 99% of news websites are not designed for discovery. They’re based on this simple WordPress platform; you can see all the stories, but you can’t quickly and easily browse. The news should be so well laid out that people get lost in it.”

While the cost of developing a product website can be high DTC marketers should not skimp on integrating the strategy of design into their websites. When I developed sites we tested wire frames even before we tackled content.

I understand that the FDA requires fair balance on your website and that it, in some cases, takes up a lot of valuable space but that is a not a problem it’s a challenge that you and your agency should be tackling head on.  Your site should welcome consumers and tell a story not be an online version of your product label with an image here and there.

The truth is that we are moving more to a visual society and visual can sell. Bill Franks at HBR’s blog says Our brains are meant to see in pictures. Grids and columns of data, while ubiquitous, make it very difficult to see trends or patterns. Additionally, a lot of the new data sources available today, such as genetic data or social network data, don’t lend themselves to traditional spreadsheets and graphs. These data types require a different way of displaying them to allow us to see the underlying patterns and stories in the data.

This if course is going to be new for pharma marketers but the reality is that the online environment is changing and it’s becoming more visual especially with new OS’s that are integrating visuals (Windows 8) and touch screens (iPads, Windows 8).   There are some health conditions and products, of course, that do not warrant a lot of visuals but that is why marketers and their agencies need to spend more time with strategy and testing concepts with their target audience.  You just can’t give an agency a brand book and say “build a website using the brand book”.  Product websites are too important to keep that frame of mind.

Don’t underestimate how much an appropriate visual can help you get your point across. You have to see the power of high-impact visualizations in order to fully grasp what is possible. The good news is that modern visualization tools can help users at any skill level do a better job of analyzing, comprehending, and presenting information. Give it a shot.



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