The world of pharmaceutical advertising and marketing always brings with it its own set of unique challenges… and designing a mobile site is no different. Here are some tips to help with the process.
Looking back, I feel it’s safe to think of 2011 as the year of the mobile website. At least, it was for me. I had the opportunity to be the User Experience Design lead on the creation of a pharmaceutical product’s mobile website. Remember the Mark Twain saying, “I would’ve written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time”? Well, when creating a mobile site less is definitely more.
Having a mobile presence for pharmaceutical products that are optimized for smartphones to engage the public is almost a requirement today. According to the Manhattan Research 2011 Year in Review 61 million consumers are using mobile devices for health, and smartphone consumers are twice as likely to use mobile websites rather than apps for health-related information.
Regardless of the industry, the objective of any mobile site is to be as intuitive and informative as possible. Crafting a site that is agile, engaging, and relevant requires a creative team to focus on only the most important information and actions. To do this, you need to find the right blend of relevant content with the user experience. Every piece of imagery, audio, video, and a copy is thoroughly thought-out, evaluated, re-evaluated, and then re-evaluated again to see how it relates to the whole experience. This basic formula is “the secret sauce” of a successful pharma mobile site.
With an artfully designed mobile site, a user is engaged and thinking only about the information they came for, not the mobile site navigation.
Mobile users are like information-seeking ninjas. Engage them with what they want fast or they leave as quickly as they arrived. Our multi-disciplinary team created the site by keeping the client’s objectives and the user experience always at the forefront. Here are a few helpful findings from our process. Think of it as Developing Pharma Mobile Sites 101.
- Use only easily digestible information and use no content of questionable value.
- Base the content on data, and use site analytics to determine what people want.
- Keep the interface simple and intuitive.
- Use high contrast visuals to keep the information legible.
- The site’s navigation layers should be wide rather than deep—with relevant options near the top level of navigation.
- Design a flexible layout from the beginning.
- Prototype, evaluate, and re-evaluate. Rinse and repeat.
- Don’t make the user think. Users should be able to find the information they want quickly and easily.
- Use rich media and videos whenever possible. It’s more engaging and less work for the visitor than reading.
The Creation Process:
- Take other mobile sites into account but don’t copy them. They may have done something right but use informed common sense to evaluate them and learn from their successes and failures.
- It is an iterative process. Evaluate and re-evaluate. Rinse and repeat.
- Create a finished product and don’t leave important elements until the next time the site is updated.
It’s important to have the first launch to be a quality-finished product. Don’t fall into the trap of saying, “It’s the web we can just change it later.” Just because online assets can be updated quickly doesn’t mean you should plan to put up a lower quality or incomplete site with the thought that it will be “fixed” in the next update. Taking a bit of extra time to develop a quality site the first time around can save time and effort down the road—especially when you consider the lengthy approval processes that pharmaceutical websites can require even for small changes. Updates to the site can then be strategic improvements based on the current data from the visitors using the new site rather than crutches to prop up a site that just limps along.
In 2012 the landscape will continue to change as mobile and tablet users evolve. One thing that won’t change is the challenge of presenting relevant information in an intuitive experience. It’s not rocket surgery, but it does take a commitment to have the user experience is baked into the mobile site from the beginning.
What was your most engaging experience on a mobile site?
Or better yet, what was your most frustrating mobile experience?