It was clear from the outset that any fundamental review of the Center for Cancer Research’s (CfCR) online presence must launch from assessing the effectiveness of the 40+ core laboratory micro-sites in engaging site visitors. The audience’s academic level must be considered too — quite distinct from other sites I manage — so it targets established and often very specialized professional researchers, along with post-doctoral fellows.
As such, I developed various new formatting designs for the laboratory sites, for example with small bursts of content available both in its searchable online form and in downloadable PDFs, for those looking to annotate and collate research findings off-line.
Beyond these developments, I concluded on reflection that this concern for the different type of research audience had been overstated in the site. High-level research content should not mean impenetrable limitations of site access and an austere presentation of this work. With so many laboratories, and several hundred staff, I felt it was would be very difficult for even academically advanced site visitors to really engage with its numerous studies and publications.
This conclusion was supported by the site’s analytics, which also reflected a higher than average bounce rate, suggesting that the site had a problem with its stickiness.
Although the core of the CfCR online content is this mass of research data and publications in each of the labs, the site had actually been suffering from this overwhelming quantity of valuable information.
Since so much of the research work carried on at the CfCR is very engaging to a research audience, my solution was to develop a new central news and events portal, intended to create a truly dynamic space with which researchers could engage.
This news portal includes a newly created welcome video by the center’s director, to show the center as approachable as well as studious, and a rotating spotlighted “Featured Lab” section, giving a foothold as a site visitor explored the site. There is also a large format recent publications slideshow, accompanied by informal images of relevant researchers.
This development allowed the center to be presented as a place attracting the highest quality of research work, and also humming with professional activity.