Each month, thousands of people Google the words “clinical trials.” This presents research sites and study sponsors with a big opportunity to recruit potential participants. A dedicated website can attract applicants to your clinical trial—provided you design it well.
Clinical trial websites aren’t always created with potential study subjects in mind. Visitors to ClinicalTrials.gov, for instance, must navigate dense text and many steps to find relevant studies. And once they do, they still might not know whether they qualify. Your clinical trial website can avoid such problems by featuring the following:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When someone looks online for clinical trials, you want your study to show up. Optimizing your website for search users’ queries can help you do this. SEO involves placing relevant keywords on your website (among other tactics). These keywords tell search providers like Google what people will find on your site. SEO is nuanced, long-term work. You may want to partner with an individual or agency that specializes in these services.
Still, knowing some basic best practices can help. For instance, write your website text as you normally would. But be sure to list your study’s specialty (“back pain,” “pancreatic cancer,” etc.) in prominent areas like the website’s homepage’s title and main headings. And include your address throughout your website (for instance, in the footer). Local search is especially important for research sites, as most operate in specific towns or regions. You want those communities to be able to find you.
Engaging Landing Pages
Potential study subjects’ impressions of you begin when they find you online. Ask yourself what someone will think of your business based on that presence. Does your website look reputable and professional, highlighting your credentials and affiliations? Visiting your website should be like visiting your physical site. In both instances, you want subjects to feel comfortable and confident.
The webpage someone sees first (the “landing page”) should be easy to understand and engaging. Make sure it uses simple language and clear calls to action (“see if you qualify,” “learn more,” etc.). If you have a target participant—young or old, a certain gender, a specific race—represent them as well. This personal element will help people understand that a specific clinical trial is for them.
More than 50 percent of the webpages visited in 2018 were from a mobile device. Your research site’s website must account for this. Is it responsive (i.e., does its layout change based on the device that accesses it)? You can check by resizing your desktop browser or using a phone and/or a tablet to see how the website responds. When it does, make sure your important information doesn’t end up deep down the page or disappear altogether.
Do you plan to use your website to boost engagement throughout the clinical trial? For instance, asking participants to log information. Responsive design is especially important in these situations. By taking a mobile-first approach, you let study participants complete tasks when and where it’s easiest for them—increasing participation as a result.
An effective online presence is just one way to improve patient recruitment efforts. Visit the recruitment section of our blog to learn more strategies.