September 8, 2023 2.0: A Call to Action for Life Sciences Brands


Chase Feiger, M.D, and Ahmed Elsayyad

The internet isn’t new anymore, but—depending on the website you’re on—it may still seem like it’s stuck in the early 2000s.

When designing a website for today’s consumers, it’s widely accepted that user experience and ease of navigation are critical. No one goes to a website to view a collection of pages—they go for a seamless journey that takes them from where they are to where they want to be with ideally very little effort on their part. Unfortunately, life sciences companies have often lagged in providing this kind of experience to their consumers. With complex information and outdated design, brand websites are typically overwhelming and challenging to navigate. This lack of user-friendliness is likely to frustrate visitors instead of engage them.

It’s time to shed light on the shortcomings of current brand sites, explore the expectations of modern consumers, and make a call for actionable changes that can elevate the user experience to drive better results for life sciences brands. In other words: It’s time for 2.0.

The Problem with 1.0

Today’s consumers are used to interacting with websites or apps like Warby Parker, Masterclass, Netflix, and other companies that have tons of content but still manage to deliver it in a way that is easily discoverable and, in many cases, personalized for the user. To then be confronted by a brand website that violates the user-friendly principles they’ve come to expect results in an understandable disconnect between life sciences brands and their consumers.

The core of the problem is that many life sciences brands are guilty of violating the basic principle of any user-friendly experience: Keep it simple. Instead, brand sites are filled with overwhelming amounts of information that completely ignore the health literacy of their users. Content includes complex medical terminology, excessive text, and dense scientific information—all creating a barrage of information that leaves consumers more confused instead of less.

Meanwhile, even if the content consumers are looking for is actually there, brand sites often fail to deliver a clear route for navigation. The struggle to locate relevant information due to confusing site structures, buried content, and unintuitive menus is something so far away from what most users have come to expect that there is very little patience for overcoming it.

So what does the user do? Exactly the opposite of what the brand wants: The user navigates away from the page.

The Dream of 2.0 2.0 needs to be different—and we mean “total makeover” different.

Starting with the technical bones of it all, more brands need to consider the basics of mobile responsiveness. With a huge portion of web traffic originating from mobile devices, it is essential for life sciences websites to be fully optimized and responsive across different screen sizes. Failing to provide a smooth mobile experience can lead to high bounce rates and missed opportunities.

After mastering mobile, the next step is to reexamine website navigation. Companies should adopt user-centered design principles, ensuring logical and intuitive site structures, easy-to-find menus, and prominent search functionality. But beyond that, they should design a path that allows a user to navigate a website not just by looking at a menu, but via guidance based on users’ health literacy, their current state of knowledge, where they are in their diagnosis, and more.

More than just mastering mobile and website navigation, 2.0 needs to nail the user experience when it comes to the actual content they’re delivering. Life sciences brands must look at everything from e-commerce to entertainment and mimic those experiences to figure out how to deliver complex information in digestible, visually appealing, concise, and accessible ways. This is not necessarily easy—after all, educating consumers about a disease state is certainly more complex than educating them about their nearby restaurant options—but it is certainly not impossible.

The use of infographics, videos, and interactive elements can help engage users and improve understanding. Plus, there are lots of opportunities to deliver interactive tools and features such as symptom checkers, medication trackers, dosage calculators, and appointment scheduling functionalities.

The final step in the 2.0 journey is to deliver truly one-of-a-kind, personally tailored experiences. By leveraging user data and implementing intelligent personalization algorithms, brands can serve up tailored content, recommendations, and support. Customized user experiences build trust, foster engagement, and empower consumers to take proactive steps towards their healthcare journey.

In an era where user experience plays a pivotal role in driving online engagement, life sciences companies must reimagine their consumer-facing websites. By optimizing for mobile devices, enhancing navigation, simplifying complex information, and personalizing user experiences, these websites can better align with the expectations of modern consumers.

Embracing these changes will pave the way for a more patient-centric approach and ultimately contribute to better healthcare outcomes.