What a website is not is a technological homage to yourself, or to the website designer who might have helped you establish a presence on the Net. Technological homages—showy sites that take forever to download—impede rather than promote commerce. Such websites are an all too common sight on the Web. Don't become another statistic in this genre.
If you're designing your own site, you'll need to start with a good website authoring tool that will let you design a basic site, which can subsequently be enhanced with specialty design programs. For beginners, a decent authoring program with a relatively short learning curve is Microsoft Front Page. A more advanced tool, which has a reputation for greater versatility and greater reliability in rendering integrity across all types of Web browsers is DreamWeaver by Macromedia.
Before you begin your design, you will want to visit some information clearinghouses that offer ideas on what works best in website design.
A popular site is Webbie World , home of the oft-cited Webbie Awards. For the flip side, you can feast your eyes on the prosaically titled " Web Sites That Suck". What the site lacks in decorum, it makes up for in an illuminating perspective on website design disasters see " Ten website design pitfalls". In the report, The Homepage Report: A Study of the Latest Crop of Biotechs , a team of Internet specialists analyzed 57 biotech websites for design consistency, organization, and information delivery.
Overall, new scientific companies scored poorly. Just over half presented themselves in what the team judged to be an "excellent, exciting, and professional" fashion 1. Skip animated introductions. The study revealed that biotech visitors are extremely goal oriented: they don't want to be entertained, and have very specific reasons for visiting a website.
Plus homepage animation can deprive biotech companies of premium placement in search engines like Google and Yahoo! Automated programs used by search engines cannot index content on animated pages—rendering sites almost invisible to the majority of users. The fact is, animation is better suited for material hosted deeper within a site. If you simply must animate your homepage, prominently display a 'Skip Intro' button. Meet the need for speed. Slow download speeds undermine user confidence in the quality of content and products. And download speed will remain a problem.
It is a mistake to assume potential investors and employees will be surfing the Internet via high-powered corporate networks: consequently website owners are advised to create pages that load quickly. Avoid confusing navigation: place clearly labeled information markers in the same place on every page.
Poor designers force users to hunt for key links. Using a website should be easy and intuitive. Finding your way around should not require a rulebook. Over a third of the sites surveyed do not maintain a consistent navigational structure and inadvertently hide important content deep within the site. Don't hide important information from visitors.
Commonly accessed data should be available within one click of the homepage. Seventy-four percent of sites surveyed got this right—but one in four hid contact information deep in the site or required users to request information by e-mail. Researchers at the University of Maryland found that users performed best on sites that put content no more than two clicks away from the homepage 3.
Ditch misleading misnomers. Good designers test their creations with members of their target audience before publishing their site.
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Internet usability specialists recommend that website managers design for the lowest common denominator: in digital jwt's judgment, site managers are on the right track if an year-old can find information without assistance. The life science community is increasingly international, and site managers cannot assume that everyone visiting their new website is a PhD perfectly fluent in English. Label information carefully and if in doubt, use secondary text to describe the choice to users.
On one surveyed site, clicks on 'Media' led to press releases and news coverage: most of the sites in the sample present company press releases in sections labeled 'About Us' or 'Press Release. Many visitors will arrive at your website from a search engine.
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Make it easy for them to find your new website by making it a priority to submit the site to relevant Internet directories and search engines. Don't take your eyes off the big boys: Larger companies can spend millions redesigning their websites to make them easier to use. Don't limit yourself by only comparing your website with immediate rivals who may have designed their websites on limited budgets. Look beyond them by analyzing the design decisions of big corporations—industry leaders like Amgen and Medtronic have spent considerable time and energy understanding what users want from their websites.
And the lessons they have learned are clear to any visitor. You won't go far wrong if you follow their lead. That's not to say smaller Biotechs do not offer effective online experiences. For simple, well-designed but modest websites check out some of the best sites from the report: Caliper Technology , ViaCell , and Somalogic. Remember the only constant is change. Most of the website managers digital jwt surveyed were planning to modify their site. Good site managers use technologies that make constant editing and approvals easy. Without an easy way to update content, simple data changes or revisions in the management team frustrate many site managers.
One in five sites surveyed did not provide material fresher than 90 days: nothing kills repeat visitor enthusiasm as quickly as out-of-date content. What's to stop visitors from assuming that if your site is shoddy, your science will be, too? Don't forget to describe your business. Sixty-one percent of new Biotechs fail this test. Too often Biotechs place vague marketing-speak on their homepage without the support of a detailed and straightforward description of purpose.
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Most visitors will arrive at the website out of context—especially if they are following a link from another site or a search engine. The information on your homepage will be the first thing they learn about your company. Make it compelling as the whole world is only one click away. Get a memorable and easy to spell URL. New Biotechs love fancy sounding URLs that are hard to spell and difficult to remember. It's the first law of marketing: if they can't find you, then they won't buy your products.
Nature readers can receive a free copy of digital jwt's white paper, The Homepage Report: A study of the latest crop of Biotechs , by e-mailing the author, Mark Williams mark. Williams, M. Shariff, N. Want Reporters to use your web site? Start thinking like they do. Sondregger, P. Fox, S. Mark Williams, senior partner with website design firm digital jwt a member of the J.
Walter Thompson group of companies , has published two studies of biotechnology company websites. When designing an interactive corporate presence, the first design element to focus on is themed pages. Just as all your stationery is coordinated with the same look, feel and corporate logo, so should your website. Microsoft Front Page comes with a number of predesigned, themed corporate page sets that can be tailored to your own needs. If instead you plan to design your own theme from scratch, be sure to pick colors that make sense.
Granted, the 'proper' colors for a website can be entirely subjective; but if you know you are color-blind, getting some advice on this design facet is a good idea. No matter what the ultimate look and feel, you will also want to be sure your home page—the first page visitors will land on—communicates clearly who you are and what you are offering.
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No matter how you decide to do this, use graphics sparingly to ensure the page downloads quickly, and offer quick jumps via links to key interest areas. Some examples of deftly designed home pages in the biotech industry include Genelabs , Amgen and Immunogen see Fig. Amgen's home page offers the key elements for fast and easy site navigation, while clearly branding the firm in visitors' minds. Once you have a broad-strokes design, incorporating a website search engine on your home page should be your next priority.
These tools enable any visitor to quickly find the specific information they need on your site by entering a few key words. Many advanced website design packages include easy to install templates for website search engines. A complementary component to the search engine is the data drill. This tool groups hotlinks on your home page, enabling visitors to quickly point and click to a specific subject area of interest within the website. All advanced website design packages offer virtually effortless tools that let you quickly create a grouping of hotlinks.
Good examples of this design concept in action can be found at Abbott Laboratories , which offers data drills on its home page for businesses, products and conditions, and Shimoda Biotech see Fig. Abbott offers three data drills on its home page for enhanced navigation to various information domains.
Once you have a home page, you will want to replicate the look and feel that has been established there throughout the key information domains featured on the site. For biotechnology companies, those domains should include a company mission statement, biographies of key company executives, current products and products-in-development and, if applicable, an investors' information section.
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You should also use your presence on the Web to recruit staff by establishing a virtual career center. Such a center can actually help you reduce hiring costs. Besides presenting your startup's best face to potential employees, your career center should sell job seekers on your company's unique culture, according to Ling. In addition, she advises companies to create a separate search engine in the jobs domain if the company offers—or soon will offer—a number of positions across a wide spectrum of departments.
AstraZeneca offers an example of a well-designed career center, as does Cell Genesys. You will also want to establish a virtual press center. Ideally, a deftly designed press center offers journalists all the tools and information they need for researching stories in cyberspace. Regulated Information. Sartorius As An Employer. Who We Are. Sartorius Worldwide. Did You Know That Sartorius. Corporate History. How We Work. Leadership Guidelines. What We Offer. Sartorius College.
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