SEO, User Experience Key to Finding – And Understanding – Clinical Trials

Marketing efforts designed for clinical trial recruitment are a combination of science and art. Healthcare professionals are engaged in an increasingly competitive fight to attract and retain clinical trial participants. Their arsenal includes digital marketing strategies, such as user experience (UX), as well as traditional ones.

On average, 20 percent of clinical trial participants are found via online recruitment strategies, according to Cutting Edge research. When patients and caregivers search online for relevant treatment information, they are often land at While the site contains detailed information about studies in the U.S., it was created with healthcare professionals in mind, not the general public.

As a rule, sponsors who dedicate a website to clinical trials usually focus on patient needs. If the website is enhanced for search engine optimization (SEO), then someone searching online for trials will be directed to that site. This site is often a patient’s first impression of not only the trial but of the sponsor brand itself. Unfortunately, according to the same cutting-edge research, sponsor trial websites tend to present noticeable UX issues for first-time visitors. These issues lead to frustration which, in turn, can result in a loss of trust in the sponsor, its trial and its products.

Similar to the challenge posed by, sponsor trial websites are more often driven by data than design, which may be an afterthought, for example sponsor sites may not be optimized for mobile. This is a missed opportunity, considering that 52 percent of smartphone owners have used their device to search online for health information.

Because of such issues, potential participants still may be unsure whether they qualify for a trial — even after visiting a sponsor’s trials site. Through a dedicated website for clinical trials, a sponsor can boost patient engagement by connecting with candidates, matching them to trials, and informing the public about its disclosure and transparency policies. The question is, how?

Sponsors’ clinical trials websites should focus on three primary areas:

Patient-centric content and design


Mobile friendliness

This is where good UX and user interface (UI) come into play. Services such as TrialScope’s Clinical Trial Transparency Service (CTTS), which builds and maintains clinical trials sites for sponsors, ensure that these best practices are followed:

Patient-centric content means presenting information in simple language that’s easily understandable. Design elements can include icons and graphics that convey complicated details in a format that is easy to comprehend, as well as images depicting patients.

Navigational considerations include a robust site search engine, minimal number of clicks to access relevant information, and clear visual calls to action (for example, a button labelled “ASK TO JOIN TRIAL”).

Time is of the essence –

55 percent of web users spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website. This underscores the importance of information flow and content organisation. A well-organised, easy-to-use, appealing clinical trials site will encourage, not hinder, participation.

To those developing clinical trial sites, we advise:

“First, understand your audience and communicate with them at the level they need to be communicated to. Keep it simple and focused.”

“Help them solve the problem they came to your site to solve. From a design standpoint, simpler, cleaner is better. The trend is toward flat, minimalist design. It’s not about the sales pitch; it’s about giving them what they need to make smart decisions.”

Sponsors must put the patient first, adapting to the ever-changing expectations and needs of prospective participants in order to boost online trial recruitment. Providing online resources is a good place to start.

Our extensive experience in patient recruitment enables us to tackle many of the challenges noted above. To find out more about how we can build a bespoke outreach campaign for you anywhere in the world, drop us an email or give us a call and speak to one of our team: – +44 (0) 1279 703 636