Archive for the ‘Friday Collection’ Category

This week, it’s time to review AstraZeneca‘s home page, in my occasional forays into critiquing the websites of pharmaceutical companies. I don’t do exhaustive site reviews here; just high-level impressions of the home page and the overall navigation design.

When you type http://www.astrazeneca.com into your browser, you arrive at the home page of the AZ International site. Because they are a global company, this is a reasonable choice on the part of the company. It takes a sharp eye (far upper right corner) to find the spot where you’d navigate to the country-specific sites (they did place a fairly prominent link further down for US visitors).


The site design is decent – the use of colors and graphics is better than a lot of the pharma sites I’ve reviewed so far. The width of the site is artificially constrained for older computers, a choice that I hope fewer companies will make in the future. Consequently, the site feels crowded, with a lot of very small text. As with many “Big Pharma” sites, the page is very busy – there are so many categories of information that it can feel overwhelming. However, at least there is an eye-catching graphic front-and-center, with a brief tagline and a reasonably well-crafted corporate summary.

Moving over the U.S. home page, I immediately noticed that the “pedigree” of the site was clearly a derivative of the global site – again, a smart move. However, in this case, because (I assume) the United States user base has a larger percentage of modern computers, the width of the page is increased somewhat, making it feel less compressed than the International site. This site has more variety in the use of graphics, but shares the solid use of color schemes (blue in this case; purple for International).


Going into the sub-menus on the left, the information presented in the middle and on the right changes intelligently, and the overall pleasant graphical design themes continue. There’s a lot of “heavy” information that healthcare/pharma companies have to present, and AZ uses the best method (IMHO) – a prominent graphic with summary statement, followed by a minimum of overview text, followed by links to various other pieces of more detailed information. I never felt “lost” on this site.

In short, this is pretty good execution. Some of the best look/feel and use of color that I’ve seen so far, and a better-than-merely-functional navigation scheme. All of these huge companies must make trade-offs and compromises due to their diverse audiences (patients, healthcare practitioners, shareholders, regulators, lawyers, employees, multiple countries, etc.) and AZ has done a better job than most making a good impression.

Prior website reviews:









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sass.jpgNo, not sass. Of course you have that. We’re talking about SaaS – an acronym for Software-as-a-Service.

What’s that, you ask?

Simply put – SaaS is an offering whereby an external company will host and manage software applications for you. Typically, you are “renting” the application (instead of purchasing a license and bringing it in-house). Also, many times the external company will even run/administer/support – in full or in part – the application for you.

SaaS is how a lot more computer-based applications are getting done these days. The main reason for avoiding SaaS some years back – concern about data security – has pretty much vanished, as databases and web applications have become more robust. In fact, not only are pharma companies more commonly using the SaaS model – some are even migrating applications that they used to have “inside” to a SaaS model, to take advantage of the scalable service model offered by provider companies.

In the sales training arena, there are now companies that offer Assessment Management and Learning Management (and other learning technology) solutions in a SaaS model. My particular bias is that the best solution is a flexible hybrid – that is, you can outsource to an external provider, OR you can bring the application in – same software, data preserved. This allows you to maintain your investment in the platform no matter how your needs change in the future.

One main strength of SaaS – a centrally hosted software application that services many customers – means that it costs less to maintain. However, that also means little or no customization – a trade-off that must be carefully weighed up front.

SaaS makes it much easier to get started with an application – lower initial cost, modest monthly fees, shorter ramp-up times – and later, to add capabilities or more users. Significant care needs to be exercised in selecting a good provider, to make sure that you have maximum security and flexibility – but SaaS is an option that should be taken very seriously if you’re looking at learning technology. These solutions are now mature and often quite compelling – and the business model is generally more profitable (lots of learning technology vendors have struggled to turn a profit), which can mean less business risk when partnering with a solid SaaS supplier.

(Image credit)

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It had been a long time since I’d gone on Bristol-Myers’ site. So it was a pleasant surprise when, a few moments after typing www.bms.com into my browser, an interesting voice began speaking to me.


BMS features a patient story front-and-center – but not merely a picture with words. A video kicked right off and, in the span of a few seconds, I was engaged in a brief account of someone overcoming rheumatoid arthritis.

Now I normally dislike video or audio firing off as soon as I get onto a website. Actually, “resent” is a more accurate term. But in this case, I was drawn in. This little vignette was done just right.

And, BMS puts to use some reasonably good taglines. Your will. Our Medicines. Together we can fight serious diseases. Together we can prevail. Instead of just using some sterile self-referential tagline about health, BMS tries to create a sense of connection.

The rest of the site design is just OK. The use of white space is reasonable, and the navigational elements are pretty typical of a major pharma company. If anything, it’s too crowded – and that “TMI” (too much information) motif continues as you get into the submenus. Sometimes, you can throw so many links at visitors that it is hard to feel comfortable – like being in a party with 50 people packed into one room. The relatively simple graphical design of the home page gets cluttered once you move deeper into the site – a jumble of graphics and colors begins to intrude.

Nonetheless, I’m going to give Bristol one high mark – for nailing the use of video and using storytelling to immediately grab attention. While the rest of the site doesn’t stand out, that element is the best “hook” yet I’ve seen on a pharma home page.

Prior website reviews:








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Vytorin Dilemma Solved!

macrost-sm.jpgIn a shocking new development which has organic farmers rejoicing nationwide, Behemoth Pharmaceuticals President J.P. MacRost announced this week that his company is releasing new “free-range” Vytorin to deal with both sources of Vytorin angst – pharma and phraud.

“We’ve been secretly working on our all-natural, free-range version for quite some time, “stated MacRost at a hastily assembled news conference. “Our plan was to release it in the fall, after we’d gotten all the feed stock stored up for the winter, but with the recent Vytorin hubbub, involving lack of efficacy and possibly questionable stock sell-offs, we decided to put our organic product out on the market right now.”


Free-range Vytorin ranch in Ploughville, Montana

“With free-range Vytorin, you get to lower your cholesterol without worrying about artery thickness, changed endpoints, or Steve Nissen’s pronouncements over at that Cleveland Clinic place. All you get is 100% natural Vytorin, grown and raised on our pure Montana rangeland. You don’t even need those pesky doctor permission slips – we ship free-range Vytorin directly to your doorstep, in plain cardboard packaging,” declared MacRost.

Kevin Trudough, consumer crusader and author of the upcoming volume “Two Sources of Pharma Phraud – Me and Them,” had this to say about the announcement of a free-range version of Vytorin; “Anything natural is better than stuff churned out by these evil pharmaceutical companies, and I wholeheartedly endorse this wonderful new source of Vytorin. In fact, if you buy one bottle, you get my prior bestselling book free, Natural Cures that Aunt Bessie and the Pasta Industry Didn’t Want You to Know About. Plus, Behemoth will also include a sample bottle of pesticide-free Plavix, absolutely free if you order before midnight tonight and pay by credit card.”

Asked about FDA clearance for these all-natural versions of commercial pharmaceuticals, MacRost replied, “Of course, none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, and we make no claims to cure any medical condition. But if you want to lower your cholesterol, reduce the chance of getting heart attacks and avoid using Dr. Jarvik’s artificial heart, then you definitely want our FDA-approved free range Vytorin. And remember, call right now and we’ll include a free Rezulin squishy beer can cozy, absolutely free while supplies last.”


The Pharma Side
Copyright 2008 Impactiviti LLC

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After Hours 1_26

Who doesn’t like to save money? Here’s a page with 21 money-savings sites around the web.

Create your own, instant, no-cost, ad-hoc chat room on-line (ChatMaker).

Fun with time-lapse photography. 13 very cool time-lapse wonders. It’s hard to pick a favorite, though the Milky Way clip is really astonishing. This is a 3/4 cup of coffee stop on the web, so give yourself a few minutes…!

Do’s and don’ts with babies. Hysterical.

I laughed so hard it hurt. Forwarded by a sister-in-law: Mrs. Hughes. If you have kids, you’ll especially enjoy this!

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Ahhh, red wine. You just knew it was medicinal, right? Here’s further proof!

Could this be a game-changer? I love studies like this! Alzheimer’s symptoms reduced within minutes…you’ll never guess how.

Another health system bans drug rep trinkets. I like tchotchkes, however, so if you have extras, please forward them along.

Celgene revs it up. Bad pun, I know.

We’ve got a me-too! And that warrants a press release! (Pegintron / Pegasys)

More evidence of a virus causing cancer.

The ads ought to be interesting, but hopefully they don’t have one lined up for the Super Bowl (“When we get ready for the Big Game, I wish we could have one-a-day pills instead of twice-a-day practices. Now you can etc…”). Once-a-day Cialis approved.

Big Pharma taking a beating in the public eye – so, is the industry a boxer, or a little traveler surrounded by wolves? John Mack faces off – well, at least on graphics – with Pharmaceutical Executive.

Breaking news: J&J gets clearance for new HIV drug.

Breaking news: Novartis gets clearance for Tekturna HCT (Tekturna plus diuretic for HBP)

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After Hours 1_04

You knew it had to be coming – the incredibly small projector that could fit into a pocket!

20 things you didn’t know about Skin. One of many cool resources on this site (Discover magazine) that I just stumbled across.

Requires large cup of coffee and some free time – Kottke’s list of Best 2007 links. You can hardly imagine the variety of stuff here – a true grab bag!

Finally, a Christmas vacation back to the homestead re-introduced me to this classic film, hugely entertaining for kids of all ages (and adults!). Also quite educational. Animals are Beautiful People. A wonderfully done tongue-in-cheek documentary about life in the deserts of Namib. Take my word for it – if you have kids anywhere from ages 5-14, this will be a hit. And you’ll get a major kick out of it too!

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