How to Choose a Web Design Agency: A Website Buyers Guide

Navigating the Biotech Website Rebuilding Process: A Comprehensive Buyer's Guide

Schedule a Discovery Call

Fill out the form below and our bio-tech marketing team will be in touch!

In the ever-evolving and fiercely competitive biotech industry, your online presence is more than just a digital business card; it's a crucial tool for showcasing your expertise, attracting potential clients, and establishing your brand as a leader in innovation.

Whether you're considering a minor update or a complete overhaul, revamping your biotech website can significantly impact your company's trajectory. No matter the stage of your biotech: emerging and trying to attract investors or funding, are in clinical trials and are looking for healthcare professional attention, or are well-established and are looking to have your website act as your number-one salesperson, it's hard to argue that your website isn't your most valuable marketing tool.

This comprehensive buyer's guide will equip you with the knowledge and strategies to navigate the process effectively and make informed decisions that align with your vision and goals.


Understanding Your Needs and Requirements: Laying the Foundation

Before diving headfirst into the design and development phase, it's essential to take a step back and clearly define your objectives. Ask yourself these crucial questions that will help your design team better establish a game plan that resonates with your goals:

  1. What are the primary purposes of your website? Are you aiming to generate leads, establish brand awareness, or provide educational resources?
  2. Who is your target audience? Understanding your ideal customer's needs, interests, and online behavior will help tailor your website's content and design accordingly.
  3. What key messages do you want to convey? Your website should serve as a powerful storytelling platform, effectively communicating your unique value proposition and differentiating you from competitors.
  4. What functionalities are essential for your website to serve its purpose? Consider features like e-commerce, a knowledge base, an integrated database, CRM integration, gated content, or portal.
  5. What is your desired brand identity and user experience? Your website should seamlessly reflect your brand's personality and create a positive and engaging user experience.

Setting a Budget: What Does a Biotech Website Cost?

The cost of a biotech website can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as the size and complexity of the site, the desired features and functionality, and the experience and expertise of the web design agency or freelancer.


It’s important to understand this before going into conversations with a biotech web design agency in particular as this can be the most shocking area for biotechs who may be new to the space.


Here’s how the aforementioned factors weigh into your final price:

Website size

Website sizes are one of the most highly correlated factors when it comes to cost. Many web design agencies will try to gain an understanding of the size of your site in terms of total URLs and use that as a barometer to determine pricing. For example, they might go to Google and type in: site:example.com to see how many pages are in Google’s index and then price the site based on that number. 


While this may be helpful from a general standpoint, this process may not take into account the ability of some sites to easily migrate content from one site to another. For example, with sites built on a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, an agency can easily export all the blogs on your old website and import them into a new one. 


We recently evaluated a website for a client that had a nearly 300 page website and was being quoted accordingly by other agencies. Upon further research, we found that a large portion of the site’s contents were exportable pages such as blogs, press releases, and news. Rather than basing our quote of the total number of pages, we quoted the site on content migration considerations, effectively coming in at a price point that was much more competitive than any other biotech web design agency they’d spoken to before.

Website appearance

The aesthetics of a website are a factor that we at Digital Elevator take into consideration when quoting projects. The level and depth of graphic design, especially as they concern scientifically accurate illustrations, can add to the time it takes to complete a project.


The inclusion of custom graphic design, custom pipeline graphics, custom iconography, 3D illustrations, or similar assets may be items that require separate quotes, depending on the agency you work with.


When we discuss projects with prospects, we try to get an understanding of the level of design they want, any custom illustrations they require, and how these designs fit into their budget.


For example, click through these sites to see how much more involved the graphic design is, going from simple to complex from top to bottom:

  • https://www.openclinica.com/
  • https://inventia.life/applications/
  • https://www.be.bio/our-science/
  • https://www.senseibio.com/approach/

In summary, a website with minimal customization in the realm of graphic design will be much less expensive than one that requires graphic design elements that will need to be translated into development. While every agency might not have these conversations with you during the discovery phase, you should communicate your goals with examples to see if they understand the aesthetic you are going for.

Website functionality

Database integrations, CRM integrations, eCommerce platforms, gated content, portals, and custom logic are items that are generally going to involve a bit more legwork for an agency and thus will be represented in the cost.


At the most basic level, a website will not require any of the above functionality and thus can be a standard project. However, the involvement of backend developers will generally merit some behind the scenes work that will be incorporated into the cost.


It’s important to communicate and understand these requirements as the client in the event you want them midway through the project. In the event you require additional functionality or have different requirements that were not communicated in the original scope and contract, it’s likely they will merit a separate quote and charge. See the section below on Scope Creep to learn more about how to avoid incurring additional costs to your project.

Understanding the Basic Process Most Web Design Projects Follow

At the agency level, most website projects follow a similar order of operations. If you are working with a freelancer, expect a lot of this stuff to be skipped over. The more strategy and planning, the more you can expect from the final deliverables.


Most agencies follow something of a 5-phase web design process. 


  1. Phase I- Discovery & Research: This is the phase that serves to confirm the direction of the website, its functionality, aesthetics, inspiration sites, target audience, and site structure. It’s also the phase where you get to approve the sitemap and wireframe of the site, basic layout skeletons of where things will go.
  2. Phase II- Development of Strategic Concept: The graphic design phase is where agencies will take your feedback and planning into consideration and create mockups of the various pages of your site for approval
  3. Phase III- Development: After the aesthetic mockups are approved, the site is then pushed to development. This happens on a staging server and is where the art from the designs come to life.
  4. Phase IV- Quality Assurance: The quality assurance stage is a testing phase where the internal development team will test the site across browsers and devices to look and fix any bugs. It’s also when it will be handed off to the client to do the same and make any necessary adjustments. 
  5. Phase V- Launch: The website is launched and live. This also involves oversight to make sure any lingering bugs don’t exist and that the site speed, indexation, and accessibility are all working as expected.

Branding and Logo: Ensuring Consistency and Recognition

Your website is an extension of your brand, a visual representation of your company's values, mission, and personality. Ensure that your branding guidelines and logo are readily available to the designers to maintain consistency across all digital platforms. A cohesive brand identity will enhance your company's recognition and instill trust in your target audience.

If you don’t yet have a logo or branding guide, you may want to invest in that area before you start speaking to biotech web design agencies. While a logo might be obvious, the brand guide is where you can share details about your typography, color palette, or iconography to maintain consistency across your brand. These items are also what your web design team will be pulling to ensure brand cohesion.

Expected Involvement: Defining Your Role in the Process

It’s important to understand that your agency partner will need to lean on you extensively in the initial stages to provide assets and logins to company-specific items that they’ll need to keep the project flowing smoothly. Expect to come to the table with the following:

Logos in .ai or .eps format

Domain and hosting logins

Company photos

Content

Integration logins or documentation

Some companies will lean on their web design agencies to aid with content development while others will want to save the money and create it themselves (or utilize existing content).


While it’s not critical to have all your website's content completed by the time you begin a project, it is very helpful (and recommended!) to the graphic design team who will often utilize the content to inspire meaningful designs. 

For example, a graphic designer might create custom icons based on your service offerings. If they don’t have any representative content to reference, they’d likely have to be more non-specific with their design instead of aiming to supplement text with graphics and imagery.


In short, we find the best projects are provided when there is no ambiguity around what a page should look like, and that is best accomplished when you come to your website project with all of your content completed by your internal team before a website project.

How to Be a Good Client: Fostering Effective Collaboration

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful client-agency relationship. Be prompt and constructive in your feedback, providing clear explanations for your suggestions. 

For example, we once had a client who did not like an original homepage graphic design mockup. When we asked him the specific areas that he did not like, he did not provide any feedback or give us a chance to remedy the situation and canceled the project entirely. Don’t be that guy; understand that design is subjective and that you need to communicate your views succinctly in order to achieve the best possible product.

Be open to different perspectives and creative approaches, and actively participate in the design process to ensure the website aligns with your vision. Remember, trust is key. Choose a partner you trust in their expertise and allow them to bring their creativity and experience to the table.

Gathering Quotes: Evaluating Potential Partners

Once you have a clear understanding of your needs and expectations, start requesting quotes from potential web design agencies or freelancers. Don't just focus on price; consider the following factors when evaluating proposals:

  • Experience in the biotech industry: A deep understanding of the industry's specific needs and challenges is crucial for creating a website that resonates with your target audience.
  • Portfolio of similar projects: Review their previous work to assess their design style, technical capabilities, and ability to translate your vision into reality.
  • Team expertise and communication style: A strong team with diverse expertise and a clear communication style will ensure a collaborative and productive working relationship.
  • Proposed methodology and timeline: Understand their design process, methodology, and timeline to ensure alignment with your expectations and project deadlines.
  • Cost breakdown and payment terms: Scrutinize the cost structure to understand where your investment is being allocated and negotiate payment terms that are favorable to both parties.

Freelancer: $5k to $10k

Pros:

  • Lower cost: Freelancers typically charge less than web design agencies.
  • More flexibility: Freelancers are often more flexible with their schedules and deadlines than web design agencies.

Cons:

  • Less expertise: Freelancers may not have the same level of expertise as a web design agency, particularly in specialized areas as biotechnology.
  • Less accountability: Freelancers may not be as accountable as a web design agency.
  • More difficult to manage: It can be more difficult to manage a freelancer than a web design agency.
  • Less likely to have a team of specialists: Freelancers typically do not have a team of specialists, so they may not be able to provide the same level of service as a web design agency.
  • Lack of graphic design expertise: Freelance web designers do not often have graphic design skill sets. While they may be able to build a nice-looking website, they’d probably fall short when it comes to highly corporate or cutting-edge design.

Web Design Agencies: $10k to $100k+

Pros:

  • More expertise: Web design agencies typically have a team of specialists with a variety of skills and experience.
  • More accountable: Web design agencies are typically more accountable than freelancers.
  • Easier to manage: Web design agencies have a project manager who will oversee the project from start to finish.
  • More likely to have a team of specialists: Web design agencies typically have a team of specialists who can provide a higher level of service than a freelancer. This may include graphic designers, backend developers, project managers, SEOs, and quality assurance specialists.

Cons:

  • Higher cost: Web design agencies typically charge more than freelancers.
  • Less flexibility: Web design agencies may not be as flexible with their schedules and deadlines as freelancers.
  • Longer timelines: Due to the highly in-depth processes that agencies utilize to make sure projects are successful, they tend to take longer to finish projects.

Managing the Project: Keeping Things on Track

Once you've selected your partner, establish clear communication channels and set up regular meetings to review progress, discuss concerns, and ensure the project stays on track within the agreed-upon timeline. Proactive communication and a shared understanding of expectations will help avoid misunderstandings and keep the project moving smoothly.

At our agency, we will have normal check-in meetings to discuss ongoing deliverables and project status. A freelancer may not be as deliberate with these types of check-ins, in that case, it’s good to establish a communication plan upon project kickoff.

Be Wary of Scope Creep

What is scope creep?

Scope creep is a common problem in website projects that occurs when the project's scope, or the list of deliverables, grows beyond what was originally agreed upon.


This can happen for a number of reasons, such as:


  • Changing requirements: The client may change their mind about what they want from the website after the project has begun.
  • Unclear requirements: The requirements may not be clearly defined at the beginning of the project, which can lead to misunderstandings and scope creep.
  • Poor communication: Lack of communication between the client and the developer can lead to scope creep.
  • Unrealistic deadlines: Unrealistic deadlines can put pressure on the developer to rush the project, which can lead to scope creep.

What are the consequences of scope creep?

Scope creep can have a number of negative consequences for website projects, including:


  • Increased costs: Scope creep can significantly increase the cost of the project.
  • Delayed deadlines: Scope creep can delay the project's completion date.
  • Lower quality: Scope creep can lead to a lower quality website.
  • Decreased client satisfaction: Scope creep can frustrate the client and decrease their satisfaction with the project.

How to avoid scope creep

There are a number of things you can do to avoid scope creep, such as:


  • Define the scope clearly: Clearly define the scope of the project at the beginning of the project and get it in writing.
  • Use a change request process: Establish a change request process that requires the client to approve any changes to the scope of the project.
  • Communicate effectively: Communicate regularly with the client throughout the project.
  • Set realistic deadlines: Set realistic deadlines for the project and stick to them.
  • Use a project management tool: Use a project management tool to track the project's progress and identify potential problems early on.

By following these tips, you can help to avoid scope creep and ensure that your website project is a success.

Website Launch and Maintenance: A Successful Debut and Ongoing Care

As the website nears completion, conduct thorough testing to ensure all functionalities are working seamlessly across different devices and browsers. A successful launch requires careful planning and execution. Prepare press releases, social media announcements, and email campaigns to generate buzz and drive traffic to your new website.

Don't let the hard work end with the launch. Engage in a post-launch maintenance plan to address any issues promptly, keep your website up-to-date with the latest technologies and security measures, and make ongoing content updates to maintain freshness and relevance. Remember, your website is a dynamic entity that should evolve alongside your company's growth and industry trends.

Conclusion: Embracing the Power of Your Online Presence

In the dynamic and competitive biotech landscape, a well-designed and functional website is not just a nice-to-have; it's a powerful tool for attracting new clients, establishing your brand as a leader in innovation, and driving business growth.


By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive buyer's guide, you can navigate the process effectively, make informed decisions, and create a website that not only looks great but also delivers tangible results for your biotech company.