A great website is a vital component to your outreach and marketing initiatives. As an extension of your practice, it’s a highly effective, low-cost way to promote your services as well as serve as a valuable resource tool for your patients.
Personality, patient care, and accessibility can separate your practice’s website from your competitors, says Stephenie Zamora, co-founder of Creative Spark Design in Kapolei, Hawaii. “Too many patients feel that their physician is too busy, uninterested in their feelings and unavailable,” she says. “Finding ways to be more accessible to patients, providing additional resources within your site and taking your patient care to a new level will set you apart from the competition.”
Whether you’re starting from scratch or working on a revamp, here are some tips to consider for your website.
Develop one idea and call-to-action per page
A cluttered design and an unfocused website without a clear objective is one of the major mistakes many organizations make.
“What is the number one thing you want a visitor to your website to do? Sign up for your newsletter? Book an appointment? That should be the most easily accessible aspect of your site,” says Zamora.
While design is important, it should a distant fourth to great content, structure/optimization, and conversion. “Most designers create flashy sites that are absolutely beautiful and have great animations but don’t achieve any business goals,” says Scott Harvey, co-founder of Honest Website Marketing in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Harvey recommends determining what singular action is the site or page focused on – such as lead capture, trust-building, clinic registration, setting an appointment – and whether that call to action clear.
Create a way to capture that user’s name and email
One particular call-to-action is to try to obtain the user’s email address so you can begin to build an email database.
“The singular focus of a medical practice website should be to get the prospective patient’s name and email address,” says Harvey. “Most of the time, a cold visitor to a website is not going to book a procedure right then and there.”
Harvey notes that if they found the practice from a Google search, it is quite possible that they won’t be ready to book something until they look around a bit more. “Once they leave the site, there is a good chance they won’t come back,” he says. “Not on purpose – the website might even have been pretty good – but just because it isn’t time yet.”
To convince the user to leave their email address, entice them with an irresistible offer, which the prospective patient receives in exchange for giving the practice their contact info. Harvey contends that call-to-actions such as “Sign Up for our Free Newsletter,” doesn’t work. Neither does, “Fill Out This Form for a Free Consultation.”
However, “5 Questions You Should Always Ask Your Plastic Surgeon,” works. “3 Things Not To Do Before Your Teeth Whitening Appointment,” also works.
“The prospective patient gets something of value – the report,” says Harvey. “The practice gets something of value – a lead. Then a highly-personalized, yet automated, system takes over, requiring no staff time, yet building trust and rapport with the patient, leading to an appointment and then even after the consultation, eventually continuing to warm them up to a procedure.”
Organize your site to provide a better user experience
Search engines prefer websites that are properly organized. Your patients also prefer good organization. Keep in mind that when your patients visit your site, they’re typically looking for specific information.
“They’re rarely going to read entire pages,” says Mike Samson, co-founder of Chicago-based crowdSPRING. “They’ll skim headlines and small portions of text and look at photos or graphics, but not all of them on the same page. A properly structured site that presents information in an orderly and organized way will be much more successful than one that appears chaotic.”
To give your patients a better user experience, use bold text and bullets to present key information or to stress things you want the readers to notice. Add colorful text to stress the most important information.
“Most people will ignore content if the headline above the content doesn’t interest them, so don’t ignore good headlines,” says Samson.
Keep the site design simple, fresh and unique
Your website reflects your brand and is the first impression a visitor will form when they visit your site for the first time.
“The home page is typically the most important part of web design,” Samson points out. “This is what your potential patients will first see when they visit your website. And because most sites have fewer than a dozen pages total, the home page is an important anchor for your overall site. It must answer several important questions, including who you are and what you do.”
Samson says to consider the impression you want to make and the message that you want to communicate to your current patients and potential patients. “Keep in mind that users typically read only 28 percent of the words during an average visit, so don’t overload your home page with a lot of text,” he adds. “Consider that your visitors might be visiting from laptops and mobile phones, so try to avoid designing pages for a large monitor size or pages that use more complex features such as flash animation or navigation.”
Make your site easily accessible
Consider how people living with certain disabilities such as color blindness can learn about your services if they visit your site. Also consider how people with slower internet connections will view your site.