Building websites for any large company can be a stressful, lengthy process. To no surprise, the pharmaceutical industry has it harder than other industries. In addition to all the issues and challenges other organizations face when developing a website, pharma websites must overcome regulatory and technical concerns.
From ADA to the FDA to HIPAA to CCPA, pharma and biotech brands have to navigate a lot prior to launching any new site or update. The red tape and approval process can seem endless. In fact, traditional websites don’t compare to pharmaceutical sites (federal regulation, accessibility, data handling, safety, etc).
The pharmaceutical industry is constantly undergoing change. So, what can pharmaceutical brands proactively do to expedite website development, while minimizing headaches? You need a site developer that understands the pharma industry and knows how to build websites that perform.
Here is a short list of what pharma brands should be doing to deploy great websites.
4 Major Factors in Successful Pharma Websites
1. Pick the Right CMS
You’ll find a lot of options out there; but in our opinion, WordPress is by and large the best Content Management System (CMS) for pharmaceutical websites. Building out a site on WordPress offers numerous advantages because it’s:
- Extremely popular among programmers
- Very SEO-friendly
More Benefits of Using WordPress
Manage Multiple Sites Simultaneously
Particularly attractive to pharma sites is WordPress Multisite, a feature that is ideal for international pharmaceutical brands that need to support multiple versions of their site. WordPress Multisite allows a single administrator to exert full control over all sites through a single Super Admin login. This includes brand sites for different countries and different languages, which may have their own unique requirements and messaging. Some pharma and biotech brands may use WordPress Multisite to manage both HCP and patient-facing sites, as well.
Themes and plugins can be updated and installed across all sites from the same Super Admin account. The simplicity and efficiency of Multisite makes it the ideal choice for pharmaceutical websites.
There is a huge community of WordPress developers and designers across the country (and world). Not only does that make it easier to find the support you need, but WordPress developers are constantly innovating and creating new features, plugins, themes and more that can be utilized to continually improve your site. Even where WordPress falls short, like visitor tracking, it easily integrates with other programs like Salesforce, Pardot or Adobe.
The best pharma sites engage in ongoing enhancements to extend their capability and update their theme. The practice of constantly updating, rather than at major interludes, allows any new product be added to the theme, quickly and with minimal difficulty.
Reduce Regulatory Delays
Every pharma site faces multiple approval checkpoints and revisions in the process of achieving FDA approval. Regulatory delays are inevitable. When product managers face the challenge of meeting internal deadlines, while contending with regulatory delays, any little time saver can make a big difference.
WordPress can help shave days off of the approval process by making the update process faster. Developers can update multiple website versions at once through WordPress. Sometimes accommodating FDA regulation requires styling and formatting changes to content, which becomes time consuming with hard coding, but becomes much faster using WordPress.
2. Prioritize Security
The pharmaceutical industry undergoes more scrutiny and regulation than nearly any other industry. Whether you’re navigating HIPAA regulations or other health privacy laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, digital privacy of all patient and consumer data needs to be the number one priority of pharma websites.
Additionally, with so much mobilization triggered by COVID-19, the market is experiencing more innovations than ever before such as: data visualizations, wearable technology, AI, virtual and augmented reality, etc.
Privacy and security will always be top priority.
Not only does the site need to obey all HIPAA laws for medical privacy and confidentiality, but data privacy laws in Europe (GDPR) and California (CCPA) require full disclosure on how you will be using any data collected and who you are sharing it with. The website must also be built in a way that expressly notifies visitors of their rights, gives them the ability to opt-out of any data collection and allows easy changes, deletions, and updates to data.
3. Achieve ADA Compliance
Pharmaceutical website developers need to be skilled in building sites that meet with all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility requirements. While ADA website requirements apply to all industries, pharma websites need to be extra mindful, for obvious reasons.
What does that mean?
Pharmaceutical websites need to include maximum flexibility in order to service visitors of all abilities. Experienced ADA compliant web developers need to be involved from the beginning of the process in order to make site builds move seamlessly from the outset.
If ADA compliance is treated as an afterthought, it can end up costing pharmaceutical brands significant time and money.
Examples of ADA compliant website design considerations include:
- Provide alternative reading or viewing options, such as alt text on images, transcripts or closed captioning for video and audio
- Design the website with an intentional structure using markups
- Create text transcripts for video and audio content
- Allow for textual resizing
- Visitors must be able to manipulate the site through multiple options, including keyboard-only
- Ability to pause or deactivate features like timers, animations, audio or video, or other automated functions
- Able to be used properly on screen readers
Failure to create an ADA-compliant website could open a business to lawsuits, financial liabilities and damage to your brand reputation.
4. Consider Marketing and Functionality Goals Prior to Design
A large portion of building out a pharma website takes place before any coding actually occurs. Knowing possible design, development and approval hiccups in advance helps to avoid bigger delays down the line.
Making these decisions before designing will reduce major last minute changes. Consider the following:
- What is the main goal of the site and how will the brand be using any data collected (in a HIPAA-approved manner, of course).
- Determine who will be using the site . Will it meant to service both HCP and patients?
- Pharma sites are trending away from dual version HCP/patient formats, instead becoming two distinct sites. Pharma brands are able to better tailor messaging and target their HCP marketing efforts when they know their visitors are not a mixed audience. Brands can build HCP sites with enhanced analytical and marketing features that set them up for better 1:1 marketing options.
- Functionality > Appearance (though ideally both are top-notch).
- Ensuring that a beautiful design is also a functional design can be a primary challenge for pharmaceutical brands. Brand managers must ensure that the designer they are using has the big picture in mind.
- User process and funnel needs to be carefully considered in the design process. Too many site developers get handed a design to develop that lacks in usability or just isn’t programmable.
Pharmaceutical websites are amongst the most complex sites to develop, so working with an experienced developer is essential to saving both time and money. Talk to your internal IT and product management team to determine how much and what type of help they need in the site development process and get all teams on board from the start.
Choose a developer that knows the Pharma industry and benefit from their existing knowledge. Contact Esperienza RX today at 732-706-5555 or click here to get started! We’re here to help.