How to Design a Biotech Startup Website

Marc Avila

Designing great websites in technical industries like biotech can present unique challenges. The audience for biotech websites is generally familiar with medical issues. But, according to a benchmarking report from the Web Marketing Association, biotech companies often struggle to distill complex concepts into web content that’s easy to understand with a quick read. I’ve found that the key to overcoming that challenge is using websites to tell human stories.

We’ve worked with several biotech startups, including Cortendo, GoodStart Genetics, Xcovery and Tyrogenex, and have found that stories are a key ingredient to a successful website. We’ve also noticed some common threads in what biotech companies need in their website design and in their relationship with their design partners.

If your firm or agency is working on a biotech startup website, what we’ve learned should help you along the way.

The Situation is Probably Fluid

At biotech startups, web design sometimes gets pushed aside because everyone is so intently focused on getting the product to market. Then as the company grows, it can be hard for its web design to catch up.

Some of the challenges we deal with when it comes to redesigning biotech startup websites include:

  • Outdated sites.
  • Lack of ownership for the existing site.
  • Lack of web expertise within the company.
  • Nonexistent or ineffective internal processes for managing company’s website.

3 Things Biotech Startups Need From Their Web Design Partners

In many ways, biotech startup websites are similar to other company sites in that they need a professional design that provides the information people are looking for within a minimum number of clicks and drives growth. But to provide that, you need to be understanding of biotech companies’ unique needs and challenges. When you can be accommodating to those needs, you’ll be able to be a great partner in redesigning their website.

Regulatory Compliance

Because these companies are dealing with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and aiming to offer stock to the public at some point, information and brand messaging need to be handled very carefully. You’ll need to figure out the client’s story and find a way to tell it to strangers, often while working with people who are new to business and focused on getting funding. Focus the website content on the problems their product can solve.

Flexibility

Startups are the epitome of change-rich environments. They’re evolving on the fly, and they need to work with partners who are totally comfortable with that fluidity.

For instance, many startup clients might have a hard time deciding on one internal project manager to own the web design project. Over the initial weeks of the website redesign, the proper people will get jostled into position in the client’s organizational chart, but you can’t lose your grip on deadlines and objectives in the meantime. You must lead the process and keep it moving.

Resilience

Startup CEOs are busy and may be absent even when they care deeply about the company’s website design. Your designs may go through junior employees who try to guess what the CEO likes. It would be much easier and more efficient to deal with the final decision-maker directly, but that may not be realistic — and you have to roll with it. You’ll need to be resourceful and resilient.

The innovation and dynamics at a biotech firm make them challenging but exciting to work with. If you keep in mind some of the challenges they may be grappling with, it will help the process go much more smoothly.

Questions to consider before you redesign your website
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