Responsiveness: UX Principles That Improve Pharma Apps and Websites


Pharma mobile apps and websites communicate your brand's key messages to target audiences ranging from HCPs to patients.

Whenever a user opens an app or visits a website, he/she is initiating a digital dialogue with your brand to seek tools and content that are relevant to their needs.

Unfortunately, whenever an app or website is slow or unresponsive, users see it as the digital equivalent of being ignored during a conversation — and that can negatively impact on your brand perception.

What Is Responsiveness and Why Is It Important?

Responsiveness is a key area of user experience (UX) that evaluates the ability of systems (e.g. mobile apps, websites, ERPs, etc.) to deliver accurate, visible, and timely feedback within a reasonable timeframe.

During the "conversation" between the user and the system, also known as human-computer interaction (HCI), user actions such as clicking/tapping are comparable to "words" being spoken to the system in order to get an appropriate response.

Communication is the key to every good relationship. And the best way to maintain good communication between your systems and users is by optimizing responsiveness.

To improve the conversation quality of your web-based systems, it's important to understand the UX elements that define responsiveness:

A Response

The response is the most basic form of digital communication and can include textual (e.g. a "Thank You" message) and visual (e.g. an animation indicating a button was pressed) affirmations of user actions.

Systems should be checked for the following:

  1. Searching Process
    • Indicate that the user has hit the search button
    • Indicate to the user that the system is running a search
  2. Loading Process
    • Indicate to the user that the system is loading
  3. Blank Pages
    • Indicate to the user that the page is blank and will not load any content
  4. Click/Tap a Button
    • Indicate to the user that they hit the button correctly
A Perceived Response

The perceived response is about uncovering whether the user has reacted correctly to the system's response (e.g. do users entering a password correctly press the "enter" button or miss it?).

Whenever users have trouble understanding the system's response, it's good to take the following actions:

  1. Position system responses in an obvious location that user are more likely to see
  2. Avoid using large blocks of text as a response as users
A Timely Response

Users attention spans are limited to just a few seconds — so providing them with a timely response is crucial.

While it can be challenging to guarantee a rapid response time 24/7 due to technical or infrastructure constraints, it's still possible to guarantee that users will receive a timely response a majority of the time.

An Accurate Response

Nothing annoys users more than receiving irrelevant system responses. While such inaccuracies are often detected as "bugs" in the system, it's good practice to pay attention to the following:

  1. Blank Pages with No Data/Lists
    • Indicate to users that there is no data, but that they can populate the page with data
    • Indicate to users where they can go to find alternative data
  2. Pages with No Results
    • Provide users with other content suggestions instead of leaving a blank page
  3. Successful Form/Survey/Request Submission
    • Ensure users can continue on their path within the system instead of having them click a confirmation button to close the page

How Responsive Are Your Systems?

This can be a difficult question to answer because it requires organizations to look beyond vanity metrics (e.g. app downloads, website visits, etc.) and non user-centric assumptions that people will "love" using their systems.

But with the right UX expertise and digital analytics tools and knowledge — it's possible to optimize the responsiveness and user engagement of any app or website.

What are some of the challenges your organization has faced in maintaining systems responsiveness? Share your experience with us by commenting below!

Image Credit: Pixabay