May 9, 2018

Monkeys, Ladders, and The State of Life Science Web Design


We’re working hard to help life science companies take advantage of modern design capabilities. Those companies that do are able to better connect with their audiences. One mantra we live by at Orrbitt is to find ways to innovate. This starts with rejecting the mentality of “that’s the way its always been done.”

These are just a few of the questions that we explore with clients in an effort to deliver better design.

  • Should we consider that some lab photos are not connecting with the audience?
  • Is there a better, more inviting way to write bios on your team page?
  • Should we repurpose the screen real estate at the top of the page for something more important?
  • Should your website’s copy be broken up into a better hierarchy?

Red flags everywhere!

Unfortunately, our clients have brought to our attention that other vendors in the life science arena have told them these types of questions are not important. Clients have heard “it just doesn’t matter” or some variation of “we’ve just always done it that way.”

5 Monkeys

You’ve probably heard the “5 Monkey’s Experiment” before. There’s no proof that it ever happened. Nevertheless, the story persists because it illustrates the hazards of doing things “because we’ve always done it that way.”

Here’s the story:

A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage, and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on top. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, every time a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down and beat it up.

After a time, no monkey would dare try climbing the ladder, no matter how great the temptation.
The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.

After several beatings, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to, aside from the beatings. The second monkey was substituted and the same occurred. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same was repeated. The fourth monkey was changed, resulting in the same, before the fifth was finally replaced as well.

What was left was a group of five monkeys that – without ever having received a cold shower – continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they beat up on all those who attempted to climb the ladder, their most likely answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here.”

The Times They Are a-Changin

We think design quality does matter. And it turns out that our clients do too. The evidence that design greatly impacts your business is undeniable. We’re now seeing many life science companies moving to an à la carte approach where multiple specialists partner together to deliver a better outcome. Working directly with a design expert will result in smarter use of budgets, increased transparency, more direct communication, and vastly superior results.