What Does A Successful Clinical Trial Website Look Like?
When a patient, sponsor, or CRO logs onto your website for the first time, what do they take away?
Do they see a professional-looking interface that proudly conveys your site’s expertise and commitment? Or do they see a website that looks out-of-date, amateur, or inconsistent?
Your website will often be the first place that patients and sponsors are introduced to your facility so you need to make a good first impression. Studies show that it only takes 1/10th of a second to form an impression, so web designers use a variety of visual elements to maximize the impact of every page.
Clinical trial information is often complex and can be overwhelming to a patient visiting your website for the first time. It’s important to think about the way people use the web. Unless someone is reading an extensive news article people don’t often “read” on the web. They skim. Users have short attention spans. If your website is not concise and clear, your patients are leaving.
Another mistake is allowing your users to jump to conclusions about your research. If your content and design are not well thought out you could be giving off the wrong impression. Look at the two examples below. The difference in perceived reliability is clear here but what most people don’t realize is that the smallest of mistakes in page layout can deter a patient.
Most research sites are trying to reach three distinct groups: patients, caregivers, and sponsors or CROs. This is your target audience, and it will inform how a designer approaches your website’s structure and branding.
Take some time to identify common characteristics of your desired audience. What is the common demographic? Think about age, gender, and health requirements. It’s also important to think about caretakers of minors, elderly, or patients unable to make medical decisions on their own. In this case you have to think about what this audience wants to see.
SET YOUR GOALS
What do you want your website to do for you? What will your users expect it to do for them? Are you educating patients, recruiting for trials, creating an outlet for contact, providing downloadable documents, or screening patients?
One of the most important things you can do is ensure your website is using responsive web design which means that your website is able to adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions. This ensures that when a patient opens your site on different devices it does not become a jumbled mess. Smart phones and tablets are quickly becoming the main access point for web traffic, which means if your site does not adapt, you are in danger of losing a potential patient.
CATER TO YOUR PATIENTS
There are a variety of elements you can use to enhance your patient's experience on your website:
- Patient testimonials
- Doctor and staff photos and bios
- Photos of the office
- Answers – Information about specific medical indications and the services you provide
- FAQs – Inform your patients with common questions about participating in trials
- Contact information – include location, maps, and multiple avenues for someone to reach out
- Easy to use contact forms - study specific forms help connect patients to your studies
- Your studies – a list of studies and information about each helps patients feel confident in contacting you
SHOW SPONSORS/CROS WHO YOU ARE
When sponsors log onto your website, they are often looking for information about your site’s capabilities and expertise. You can appeal to a sponsor while they are searching for this information by creating a website that brands you as a professional and respectable site with strong recruitment capabilities.
You can include:
- Facility information and capabilities
- The phases of trials you run
- Your past trial experience – including trial metrics is a plus
- Staff details and number of PIs
- Monitor/Pharma site visit information
ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
Using blogging and social media you can integrate conversations and information throughout your website to build a better reputation and community presence. Blogging allows you to discuss relevant topics and express your expertise in the industry. It also helps to increase your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Some beneficial social media outlets include:
Not sure how these social networks could be beneficial? The chart below helps to explain what a patient might be using each one for:
LET YOUR WEBSITE DO THE WORK
One way websites can considerably streamline recruitment is through online prescreening. Create questionnaires for patients to fill out with questions specific to each of your studies. Include on these forms questions that pertain to the inclusion/exclusion criteria. When the form is submitted your staff can quickly and easily review the clients answers to see if they’re a good candidate for your study.
*Be sure to use an SSL certificate on your website if you’re collecting any patient data and review HIPAA compliance rules to ensure that you are collecting information responsibly.
If recruiting patients is one of the main goals of your website you should include links or buttons for patients to register for studies in multiple places across your website. These are known as "Calls to Action." This will ensure it is seen and is not something the patient needs to hunt for.
Want to see more examples of well designed clinical research site websites? Take a look at our portfolio:
Post by Jamie Wilson -
Jamie leads website and design projects by implementing visually compelling creative solutions using modern web development techniques. “The best part of my job is building something beautiful that also functions as a tool for our clients, I love creating that balance”