According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey, 72% of U.S. Internet users have looked online for health information in the past year. Most search for a specific disease or medical problem (55%) or a certain medical treatment or procedure (43%). For one-third of U.S. adults, the Internet is a diagnostic tool and more and more pharma product websites are part of the search for online health info.
Pharma product websites, however, have not changed that much within the last decade. Most still use complicated label language and their websites look more like a medical site than a consumer site. Make no mistake about it—empowered consumers are changing the rules when it comes to how they are marketed to and what info they need to make healthcare decisions. Here are the essential elements of a great consumer pharma product website.
1. Test your design and layout with your target audience. I am surprised how few companies actually conduct usability testing but it should be essential.
2. Use images of real people. Don’t pay to use stock photography—use images of real people getting the benefits of using your product.
3. Use callouts to communicate key brand messages—people don’t always read website landing pages, they scan them.
4. Use language that talks to people, not audience segments. Remember it’s about each person, not a mass market.
5. Patients seek counsel from fellow patients and caregivers, so find a way to help them connect with each other via online patient communities.
6. Use rollovers to help define complicated medical terms by providing readers with a definition as well as links for more information.
7. Content should never require more than two clicks to scroll to the bottom. People want to get to the bottom line so give them the information they need and eliminate the fluff.
8. Provide links to other websites that have credible medical information. They are going to use a search engine to find the information anyway so help them cut through the clutter.
9. Ensure your site is optimized for mobile devices. There is no excuse for not having a site that is easy to use on smartphones as well as tablets.
10. Always improve the online brand experience. Use metrics to improve website performance and delete content that is not being used.
Finally remember that each product and disease has its own unique market characteristics. Before you start development on your website, it’s essential to conduct market research with consumers so you can better understand their informational needs.