Alternative Media: Websites that Click - Pharmaceutical Executive


Alternative Media: Websites that Click
Who does your site speak to anyway?

Pharmaceutical Executive

Stiefel Laboratories used the Open Mind approach when designing a DTC website for Duac Topical Gel (clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide). In the research session, company marketers uncovered new insights about their target market of teens, such as the fact that boys with acne are more concerned about their appearance than girls and that girls are not squeamish about squeezing zits. The teen-agers said they were tired of websites that were too serious and boring about the subject of acne. Then they grabbed some paper and started sketching what would be a flash opening to a website that showed a bloody, pus-oozing popped pimple. Both boys and girls agreed it was gross but also really cool.

The agency and the client listened, and the result was a homepage that displays facial zits that pop when mouse-clicked. As viewers move through the site and learn more about acne care and issues, the pimples on the faces start to clear up. It's a tamer version of what the teens in the Open Mind session described, but it is still edgy enough to appeal to them. This kind of market research exemplifies what makes one site and brand more distinctive and memorable than others. (See "Point of Differentiation.")

Information Architecture Information Architecture (IA) is responsible for helping end users find the information that they want in the quickest way possible. It has become an important and sophisticated part of website development, particularly for large sites.

Many pharma marketers have a problem with IA because they try to translate legal/regulatory-approved print information into an interactive medium. The result is often called "brochureware," in which the website mimics a printed brochure. Companies also tend to present sites in a linear fashion, with A followed by B followed by C. This misses the point and opportunity of the internet, which allows end users to jump from section to section based on their own information needs.

But don't take our word for it. One of the best ways to assess your website is to surf the internet looking for sites that appeal to you. Pay attention to what works and what doesn't. As the end user, are you getting what you want from the site? Are you getting it fast? Now ask yourself the same questions about your site. Is your audience getting what they want? Have you asked them? If the answer is yes, then your site is clicking with your audience.

Sandra Holtzman is president of Holtzman Communications. She can be reached at


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