Websites for Clinical Research Sites: Where do I Start?

Kayla Fargo
June 23rd, 2016

Website creation and maintenance is one of the responsibilities that often lands on a research coordinator’s to-do list. In an earlier article, I shared five questions you should answer before you start a website redesign project for your clinical research site. A strong website is key to recruiting patients more effectively and promoting your site’s capabilities to sponsors and CROs, but getting started can be intimidating.

Quick Definitions:

Website builder: A tool that allows users to construct a website without manual code editing. Popular website builders include Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, etc.

Blogging platform: A software or service used to publish content onto the internet. Blogs are regularly updated websites or web pages.

Hosting service: A service that makes websites visible to all internet users

Thankfully there are a number of low-cost, easy-to-use website design platforms that make creating and updating websites easy, even for the most novice web designers. One of the easiest, most-flexible platforms out there – and one that we certainly recommend checking out, if you’re in the initial stages of evaluating website options for your clinical research site – is Squarespace.

What is Squarespace?

Squarespace is a drag-and-drop content management system (CMS) that includes a website builder, blogging platform and hosting service. Unlike other CMS options, Squarespace requires little to no coding knowledge, which makes it ideal for users who don’t have web design experience and need to get a website up and running quickly.

Why Should I Use Squarespace to Build My Clinical Research Site’s Website?

websites for clinical research sites_content blocks

Ease of Use: Launch Your Website Quickly

The foundation of Squarespace’s web design platform is built on content blocks. These drag-and-drop blocks make it easy to add and remove elements – such as images, text, forms, videos, etc. – anywhere on a page to change the layout of your site. Squarespace’s interface is intuitive, and they also offer a library full of FAQs, how-to videos and other educational resources to help you launch your website, so you can start using it to promote your site as soon as possible.

Despite the CMS’s simplicity, Squarespace-designed websites are polished and clean, making them look and feel incredibly advanced. Squarespace offers dozens of off-the-shelf templates you can use to build professional, graphically pleasing websites.

Data Capture Capabilities: Build your Patient Database with Custom Forms

Squarespace allows you to easily collect data from your website’s visitors using custom forms. This is particularly useful for research sites working to grow their patient databases.

Using Squarespace’s customizable form tools, you can incorporate a form on your website that asks viewers to provide their first names, last names and email addresses in order to receive updates about upcoming studies and opportunities to enroll. The next time your site launches a recruitment campaign, you can easily send an announcement email to all website visitors who have completed this form.


Affordability: Build a Website Without Breaking the Bank

While Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan, there is a 14-day, risk-free trial period you can use to test out the website builder and make sure it fits your site’s needs. If you decide to move forward post-trial-period, annual fees range from $5-$46/month, depending on the number of pages included in your website.

As compared to the thousands of dollars web designers charge to build a custom site, we think investing in Squarespace is well worth it. Plus, Squarespace gives you the freedom to make changes to your website independently, instead of relying on a web designer or programmer.


Mobile-Friendly: Make Sure Your Website is Responsive

According to the Smart Insights Report on Mobile Marketing Statistics, the number of global mobile-device users surpassed the number of desktop users in 2014. That means it’s more important than ever to make sure your website is accessible to users across all devices. All of Squarespace’s templates are responsive, meaning the layout of the website changes, depending on what kind of device a visitor is using.


What Next?

A strong website is just one element of a solid patient recruitment and retention strategy. Check out the free eBook, “Patient Recruitment and Retention in Clinical Trials – 10 Strategies for Success,” for more information.