Posted by Steve Parker, Jr. (@sparkerjr)
Mobile platforms are a growing trend among consumers. Of the US population, 63% have mobile phones, as compared to 27% of the world that now own smartphones. With this quickly growing trend, the biggest challenge for pharmaceutical marketing pros is staying up-to-date on how this new technology affects their websites. It makes responsive web design – using a single set of code to provide a customized experience across multiple platforms – more important than ever. Using responsive web design, you can create a website in which the design changes depending on the device being used to view it. That way, your website always provides the visitor with the best user experience based on their viewing capabilities and ease of use.
So how are businesses keeping up with this quickly changing environment? To be frank, pharmaceutical marketing is still lagging far behind in this responsive web design arena. Only one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies has a mobile-optimized website. This means the company has effectively designed its navigation and content to be easily displayed on mobile devices. The leading pharma company’s content also varies between its mobile-optimized site and desktop site, with key messages and actions well defined on the mobile version and additional information – like patient videos – available on the desktop version.
This need for the pharmaceutical marketing industry to embrace responsive web design is quickly becoming more important, especially considering this study by Manhattan Research Cybercitizen. Surprisingly, researchers found the most common place for consumers to use a mobile device to obtain health-related info is in the home. Yes, you read that correctly: the majority of people would rather research pharmaceutical-related information on their smartphones rather than use their desktop or laptop computers that are probably on the table right in front of them. This implies being ‘on the go’ isn’t the only reason consumers turn to mobile devices first for research purposes. Think about some of the mobile apps you regularly use on your tablet or smartphone – they appeal to your specific and direct needs and are free of the excess, unwanted clutter that oftentimes comes along with websites. In other words, they’re usually quicker and easier to use. There’s no reason your website can’t be equally useful. But when designing your website, it’s important to keep in mind this aspect of responsiveness to consumer needs and the context in which they are using and accessing your site.
Pharmaceutical marketing pros should seriously consider getting on board – and soon. Current web design trends have moved from a focus on the fluid movement that the technology allows, to focusing on the user’s needs, or task-based. Pharma brands that hope to succeed with implementing a responsive web design should develop strict interface guidelines for their mobile experience and understand the consumers’ needs to determine how information and services differ between a desktop and mobile-optimized site.
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