April 20, 2017Epizyme Annual Report
We helped Nightstar create a great website with user accessibility in mind ahead of their IPO.
NIGHTSTAR’S IPO WAS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER
Going public is a big deal. The opportunity provides companies with M&A currency to help acquire other companies, provide more stability for acquiring otherwise elusive customers, and create more resilient capital if private capital becomes problematic. Being IPO-ready can actually give founders more options and more control over their destiny.
THE CONTEXT & CHALLENGE
INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING & EXPEDITED TIMELINE
INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING (IPO)
Nightstar Therapeutics came to us via THRUST Investor Relations who was helping to prep for the Nightstar initial public offering. Of course along with an IPO comes plenty of scrutiny and Nightstar wanted their digital presence to be in great shape. Digital assets included press releases, their website, and branding that included a logo that would be revised.
The Nightstar website project (which was done in tandem with a logo redesign) was large enough in scope that the work could take 6 – 8 weeks. But with all the IPO prep going on, the good people at Nightstar wanted to make sure everything was set well ahead of time.
CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Nightstar was using a proprietary (closed-source) CMS built with Concrete5. They asked us if we could build using Concrete5 and whether we recommended a new CMS.
DESIGN FOR VISION-IMPAIRED
Nightstar is a company developing and commercializing one-shot gene therapies for various eye diseases that could lead to blindness. Their old websites needed improvements in accessibility for those with vision problems.
Originally we had a few months to complete the website and then Nightstar asked if we could finish sooner. There were other competing projects in our production schedule. On top of that we absolutely will not expedite work if it means lowering quality as that’s a recipe for disaster on all sides.
As mentioned, we had to complete both a Nightstar logo and website back to back. Is it really that hard? It can be. When we pull out all the stops on logo creation there can be many rounds of revisions. For many reasons, logo design can go on for many weeks. We were prepared for this potential hazard though and had our remote team at the ready.
New IPO’s are put under the microscope and this certainly includes a company’s digital presence. Small mistakes in web copy or design layout might seem inconsequential. However, we know from research that these mistakes can lead to poor public perception of a company including harsh judgements against credibility.
We ultimately needed to deliver an IPO-ready website with vision-impaired accessibility in mind and in record time. This was a huge challenge. And of course we wanted to take it on.
All About The Science
Nightstar is a leading clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on developing and commercializing novel, one-time treatments for patients suffering from rare inherited retinal diseases that would otherwise progress to blindness.
THE PROCESS AND INSIGHT
GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. ALL HANDS ON DECK.
Content Management System
We don’t recommend Concrete5 CMS for one simple reason: we haven’t seen anything it can do better than WordPress. Some interesting WordPress statistics:
- WordPress powers almost 27 percent of the entire internet.
- WordPress sites around the world publish 24 posts per second.
- WordPress sites receive 22.17 billion monthly pageviews.
- WordPress blogs receive 46.6 million comments per month.
- There are 2.7 million global monthly searches for WordPress.
- There are more than 47,000 WordPress plugins
- 89 WordCamps in 34 countries with more than 21,000 participants in 2015.
- 25 percent of WordPress users make a full-time living off of the CMS.
- WordPress is most popular with businesses, least popular with news sites
Here’s the takeaway: WordPress is a CMS just like Drupal, Joomla, and Concrete5. WordPress has a much larger user base than the other content management systems. Because of this WordPress has far more support channels than the other CMS’s. Quick, efficient, scalable site builds are important to life science companies and we want to rely on proven technology.
With an expedited timeline on this project we knew that simply relying on a blizzard of emails as our number one project management tool would be a recipe for disaster. We’ve said it before, email as a primary project management tool is only slightly better than a fax machine. We decided to bring in Trello, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.
LEAN PROCESSES AND ORRBITT OUR PROGRESSIVE AGENCY STRUCTURE
WORDPRESS IS THE WAY TO GO
Though we can code in any CMS, we love that WordPress is backwards compatible and accepted by most life science companies. Concrete5 isn’t used nearly as often for life science projects so there would certainly be additional research involved. By using WordPress, we already had a 40 hour head start.
We build websites using a components-based approach. Think of a component as a building block. It could be a page header, a call to action block, a contact form, or a team section. By using a component-based approach we are able to keep a lot of our code separated. This means when we make a change we don’t break other parts of the website. It’s really easy to follow this approach when building a custom WordPress theme.
One of the main reasons we opted not to reuse the Concrete5 CMS is that we didn’t code the website in the first place. We always want to approach website builds in an ethical manner and this presented us with two choices: 1) charge Nightstar for the significant amount of time it would take to go through the Concrete5 CMS and ensure that it was correctly built including web compliance, scalability, extensibility, efficiency, etc. or 2) start over on a CMS (WordPress) that is used by far more developers than Concrete5.
We obviously went with the second choice. Nightstar now has a website that we’re proud to stand behind. If other developers need to work on the site in the future, we’re confident that we’ve built an accessible website using best practices and with no hidden surprises lurking under the hood.
Custom Components for Nightstar
We built several custom components for the Nightstar website. First up is a homepage component that includes Patient Stories and Open Career Positions in one component.
We built a team component which allows Nightstar to easily add team members in the WordPress admin. The option to add a custom title and team group (Leadership, Board of Directors, or Scientific Advisory Board) is also available.
CLINICAL TRIAL FORM
Also of note is the custom form offering signup for clinical trials information. This form allows for a Condition selection via dropdown. The form also sends out two emails: one to the patient who fills out the form notifying them that Nightstar will followup with further information and another to the Nightstar team notifying them of the form fields that have been submitted.
IMPROVING VISION-IMPAIRED DESIGN
Color Contrast Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are readily available and state that a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text is appropriate while Level AAA requires a contrast ratio of 7:1 for normal text and 4.5:1 for large text.
We used the helpful tool provided at https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/ to validate color contrast ratios.
Ditching Outdated Functionality
PREPPING FOR LAUNCH
Nightstar purchased several related domains (such as .org, .uk, and .info) which needed to be configured properly via DNS and then redirected (via 301) to the main domain: https://www.nightstartx.com/
We handled all of the domain and DNS well ahead of launch so that post-launch issues were minimized.
With the big IPO around the corner, we used several tools to ensure the website would work perfectly no matter the device it was viewed on. Our favorite tool for accomplishing this task is BrowserStack.
BrowserStack is a subscription-based tool that allows us to view our website on almost any browser/device/OS configuration for testing. And the best part is it’s real – no emulation here. When logged in to BrowserStack, we choose our configuration and are actually logged in to a real setup for testing via the cloud.
PERFECT DELIVERY & AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Using the right tools for the job and our experience with delivering life science websites under tight deadlines, we knocked the Nightstar project right out of the park.
The launch was great and so was the Nightstar IPO!