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Is your pharma brand site meeting HCP expectations? Our checklist of common mistakes

Pharma brand sites are an important source of information for HCPs, but they often present poor user experiences and missed opportunities to engage with them effectively. Based on our review of 15 brand sites from leading organisations, and regular conversations with HCPs, here’s 8 things you can check your site for today to ensure it’s delivering.

Doctor typing on laptop Website image gallery 1
by Graphite Digital
08 February 24
  • HCP Engagement
  • Digital Pharma
  • Brand Sites

In terms of creative output, pharma brand sites are often not the most exciting, but they’re a necessary source of information that each product team has to create. It’s important to design them effectively and make the most of all opportunities to create a positive impression amongst your audience.

We recently audited 15 pharma brand sites from leading organisations to identify the most common problems that impact user experience and engagement. We also conduct regular first-hand user research with HCPs, both independently and on behalf of our pharma clients.

Using a combination of this customer insight, along with expertise around UX best practice, here’s our checklist of questions to ask yourself to make sure your site is delivering.

1. Is your brand identity applied consistently across all pages?

Your brand site is the core platform for showcasing your brand’s visual identity and building familiarity and recognition with HCPs. Make sure that you’re utilising all opportunities to include your brand elements across your core pages — whether this be fonts, colours, logos, or taglines.

By being consistent with the elements that make up your brand identity, you can create a cohesive user experience that establishes recognition of your brand, leading to the all-important element; trust. Once HCPs truly trust your digital product/service they are loyal to it, so engagement is guaranteed.

2. Is your site easy to search?

Acknowledging HCPs’ hectic schedules, it’s crucial that they can find the information they are looking for quickly and easily. Yet many of the pharma brand sites that we reviewed were missing a search component.

Including simple search functionality on your site will avoid frustration arising and allow users to find specific information in a fast, straightforward way - meaning they’re more likely to return again for a similar positive experience.

3. Is your site structure consistent with other brands?

If you’re part of a large pharma organisation with multiple brands, HCPs will likely be accessing the sites of many different products daily. By ensuring that brand sites are consistently presented and structured, you’ll make it easier for HCPs to intuitively navigate them and find the information they need, building trust and positive perceptions at an organisational level.

This can be achieved through implementing a global design system across all brands and platforms — striking the right balance between consistent and user-friendly digital experiences, with enough flexibility for brands to maintain their own identities and unique features.

4. Are you prioritising the content that your users want to see?

When reviewing current brand sites, we found that core pages were being dominated by overly large banner images. Our user research with HCPs has shown this isn’t desired — they prefer to see a sleeker design and other content placed here. We also saw lots of large testimonials included across core pages, which again have little perceived value to HCPs.

Of course, business needs should be considered alongside customer preferences, but if you make a negative first impression by serving the wrong content, the interaction may end there. If you’re unsure about which content matters to your customers, user research can provide plenty of insight.

5. Is your site optimised for all devices?

Whilst it’s still true that most brand sites are accessed on desktop by HCPs, the balance is gradually shifting and the majority of site visits will likely be via tablet or mobile in the next few years. Despite this, many pharma brand sites still offer a sub-standard experience on these devices.

Make sure that your site is designed to be responsive for different screen sizes, and that all of your core pages have been tested on multiple devices to identify any issues with layout and legibility. Utilising modular design elements that are designed to be fully responsive can help with this.

6. Does your site navigation allow users to browse easily?

Getting the structure of your site and the logic behind your navigation elements right is essential for allowing your users to browse easily and find the content and pages they want. When reviewing existing sites, we found that menus were often structured in confusing ways — for example, requiring users to hover over cards to reveal more options, rather than having all sub-pages listed in the first instance. We also found a lot of inconsistency with the style and placement of the elements on the page, and variation in terms of how headings and subheadings were used to break up pages.

The best way to identify and address navigation and layout problems is to test first-hand with real users, using a method such as usability testing, tree testing or card sorting. This can be a quick and affordable UX research method, with conclusive insights from as little as 5 or 6 participants.

7. Have you utilised opportunities for internal linking?

It’s important to include internal links to other pages — or perhaps other digital resources under the umbrella of your wider organisation — where relevant across your brand site.

As well as bringing benefits from an SEO perspective, this will encourage your users to spend more time on your site and engage with your content at a deeper level by offering the opportunity to learn more about their topics of interest. We found that many brand sites are currently underutilising the opportunity for internal linking.

8. Is it clear how to access gated content?

Despite knowing some of the organisations we reviewed had gated HCP or patient portals in place, we found that the link to log in to these and access restricted content was missing from some of the sites we reviewed.

Make sure that your site signposts users effectively to other platforms and resources, and ideally points them toward logging in where it’s an option — this is the only way to gain customer data and behavioural information to allow you to refine and improve your content or platforms.

Make simple changes to improve user experiences and drive engagement

By addressing these 8 common issues, you’ll improve user experiences and enable the best chance of driving meaningful engagement with your brand site.

These changes are often relatively quick and simple to apply, but can make a big difference to the overall digital experience and impression of your brand amongst HCPs. By making their lives easier, you’ll build trust and confidence.

Specialist health and pharma design agency

We’re a digital customer experience agency dedicated to healthcare and pharma. We partner with our clients to create meaningful and effective digital solutions that meet both customer and business goals.

If you’re looking for a partner to support you with your digital product challenges, get in touch.