Inovio Site Redesign: Site-Altering Experience
by Merrily Chopp | August 19th, 2013
The Inovio team came to PINT wanting a new look for their website. The San Diego-based biotech firm specializes in the development of synthetic vaccines for certain infectious diseases and cancers. Inovio’s main goal in revamping their site was to present their DNA vaccine technology to current and potential investors. But they also wanted to provide patients with the information they need to evaluate, qualify, and apply for clinical trial.
“Inovio’s goal is to revolutionize vaccines. We are a bold, proactive company playing a leadership role in advancing a compelling new area of science. We wanted our website to also characterize this boldness from a design and branding perspective. Yet we also needed to take a complex scientific topic and make it accessible to a lay audience.”
-Bernie Hertel, Senior Director, Corporate Communications
How would PINT create a site that stood out from others, while still remaining serious and professional? How would the site help Inovio communicate to their audiences, but also yield informative analytics?
Keys to the Website Redesign
The changes in Inovio’s online presence primarily took shape through new landing pages, SEO and online marketing, and use of the latest version of PINT’s proprietary content management system known as the PWP.
Inovio’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Bernie Hertel wanted the website to reflect the company’s innovative approach to research. “We don’t believe we have all the answers and ideas implemented,” he said. “But we are constantly striving to find new avenues – including richer, more graphical tools – to create understanding and enthusiasm for our development activities.”
So the goal for the project was set: to help Inovio use their website as a tool to express their unique branding and complex research activities. PINT took this into consideration during the information architecture and design phases of the project.
What people really notice about the site is that it has a deeply saturated, graphical homepage with bold colors and a dark background. As you transition to the interior pages, the background shifts to a lighter hue with subtle cellular graphics. Digging deeper into sub pages, the cellular graphics are removed, so content is delivered cleanly on a white background.
This stands in contrast with the previous site design. PINT built it more than seven years ago. As a result, it does not reflect the latest Inovio or web technology advancements. It featured an animated area that showcased different Inovio activities.
PINT and Inovio worked through many ideas and concepts for telling the story.
But Inovio’s emphasis on exploration was a signal to do something more cutting-edge.
The use of animation on the homepage also pushes the design envelope and significantly alters the user’s first experience with the site. Instead of a slideshow with photos and text, PINT proposed an animation sequence for first time visitors. It would load site content progressively, and really focus the visitor experience on the Inovio’s narrative.
Returning visitors to the site are delivered the full homepage without any introduction. But they are presented with a very prominent opportunity to watch a video to learn more.
Inovio’s homepage is also a study in prominent calls to action (CTAs) for very specific segments of the audience. We will talk about that more later (internal link to goal tracking/events section).
Due to the sensitive nature of Inovio’s information, PINT recommended a one-directional strategy in which networks would primarily used for content publishing and distribution. This differs from other, two-way strategies in which companies participate in public conversations. The strategy also included ideas for developing a greater online presence for Inovio by publishing distributing content through various investor relations networks.
Naming pages and their links to include keywords used frequently in both Inovio and vaccine-related searches.
Developing a list of targeted keywords for specific pages, including the homepage, as well as pages about the company, technology, and products.
These efforts have helped to boost visits to specific landing pages. In addition, goal funnels were developed to try and shape the user experience from landing page to completion of a call to action.
Inovio’s homepage is a study in developing specific calls to action for different audience segments. So PINT set up Google Analytics events to track activity related to the four main CTAs on the homepage.
This tactic helps Inovio to see which items are engaging most with site visitors, as well as how visitors flow through these events. Combined with in-page analytics, these statistics help Inovio get a good idea of what visitors think is important on the homepage. And since the site was built using the PWP (PINT’s proprietary CMS), Inovio staff can log in and tailor this content themselves if they think something else might perform better or when they have a high priority item to promote.
Landing Page Templates
PINT also developed landing page templates for Inovio to use with their social media efforts. They integrate the main CTAs, too.
These landing pages have:
CTA blocks like those on the homepage to drive conversions
“Stay informed” email opt-in form
“Share This” widget to facilitate sharing across social networks
These features allow Inovio to track email and social media campaigns on their own site and use their own unique branding.
Completing the Project
PINT’s QA engineers successfully executed and deployed a website for Inovio that is stable under various browser environments. This was achieved through rigorous unit, system, compatibility and performance testing. PINT worked with Inovio’s IT department and their IR vendor to successfully launch the redesigned website.
Early results show a positive trend in organic search traffic since the changes were implemented. Some search terms of note include vgx-3100, inovio stock, and influeza.
We think the design and features makes Inovio a noticeable presence among biotech industry sites. Does it stand out to you?