Of all of a life science company’s design assets, the website probably has the most reach and potential impact. Think about it. Your company and science are literally on the desks and in the pockets and purses of millions of potential investors right now. At any moment they can pull out their device and cast judgement on your entire company.
So what exactly happens when a potential investor pops your domain name into the url bar and hits the enter key? No matter how many times I read it I still can’t believe it but, “website visitors make a snap judgement in less than half a second.”
Now think for a moment how long half a second is and what info you could actually process in that time. An investor is going to either think “intriguing… I’ll read some more” or “gross, back button please.”
Loading and Aesthetics
A few factors that will get that “gross” response are load time and an outdated aesthetic. Most investors aren’t going to waste their time if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, parts of the page won’t load (here’s looking at you Flash), or the page isn’t viewable because it’s not responsive. The same is true if your website looks like it’s 5+ years old.
Let’s assume you’ve done you due diligence and made sure your website loads quickly and wasn’t built in 2013. You just scored another 30-60 seconds of your investors precious time. Now what?
Now your potential investor must interact with your website’s design. A study titled “Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites”, concludes that the main reason that websites were rapidly rejected was due to the design.
Let’s get something straight right now. Some in the life science industry are misinformed when it comes to design. Many are under the assumption that design just means aesthetics. To wit, some seem to think a web designer just moves images around until it looks pretty. That may be true to an extent, but it’ only scratches the surface. A much better definition of design is “how something works.” More specifically, a designer thinks about how users of varying capability will interact with the design in all potential mediums and use cases.
A professional designer bases design decisions on research, data, best practices, knowledge of users and the market, and years of experience. An amateur or ad-hoc designer (or a “pro” that does a poor job) bases design decisions almost exclusively on their own opinions, experiences, and assumptions. We see this night-and-day contrast at its worst in “design by committee” arrangements where the designer-client relationship has spun out of control.
The takeaway here is that investor’s are going to know (subconsciously, consciously, or both) if your website design is subpar. They’ll see it and feel it. Do not cut corners on the web design process. It is a grave mistake.
Let’s assume that your website is fast and professionally designed. Now your investor can take some time reading content. Make sure than your content is concise, scannable, and engaging. Here’s another bit of insider advice: web copywriting is an entire industry unto itself and with good reason. People don’t read the web the way they read press releases, journals, or books. On the web, readers scan.
More specifically they scan for something to peak their interest and then they scan some more. Eventually the site visitor may find something to read in its entirety. But most of the time, the visitor is scanning. So be very cautious when hiring a web copywriter. Writers who do not specialize in web copywriting are often mistaken in thinking that long-form writing is a transferable skill to web writing.
Mountains of data support the large degree to which people judge companies by their websites. I would recommend not having a website at all over a poor one that broadcasts a negative image to the world. If your website isn’t currently outstanding, the good news is that help is readily available. The potential to make a positive impression on investors and anybody else with your web design are higher than ever.