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How important is your website design to the success of your practice?

For most practices, even a slight drop in new patients can kill profits and destroy cash flow. It’ a scenario you want to avoid at all costs—and when it does happen, an underperforming website is often to blame.

Your website is the first point of contact many patients will have with your practice, given that 84% of U.S. adults now use the Internet. If patients don’t like what they see on your medical practice website, they’ll look elsewhere—and you’ll lose their business.

Many websites for doctors contain out-of-date information, are hard to navigate or simply look unprofessional. Given that 72% of Internet users search for health information online, your practice needs a site that will capture their attention—and prompt them to call to book an appointment.

Whether you’re creating your medical practice website for the first time or you’re revamping an existing one, make sure to avoid these 10 healthcare website design mistakes. If you do, you’ll have an attractive, easy-to-use site that helps new patients find your practice and existing patients find what they need. Best of all, it will keep your calendar full.

Mistake #1: Not Enough Information About Your Practice

Website and Internet contact us page concept with icon on five paper post it isolated on white background.

When patients visit your medical practice website, they need a few important pieces of information right off the bat: who you are, what you do and where you’re located. If they can’t find this immediately, they will almost certainly look elsewhere. After all, 55% of people spend less than 15 seconds on a website before clicking away.

Make sure the following information can be seen clearly on your practice’s homepage:

  • Practice name
  • Contact information, including physical address and phone number
  • Link to a “contact us” form (these forms capture the information your staff needs to follow up with patients and track inquiries)
  • Names of primary physicians on staff and bios of each
  • Information about your practice’s specialty, including what services you provide and conditions you treat (e.g., audiology, physical therapy, primary care, cancer)

Make sure all this information is easy to read, up to date and concise. You should also link from the homepage to other pages that provide more specifics. For example, an audiology website design might include a short description of the conditions the practice treats on the homepage, and link to a “Services” page that offers more detailed information.

You should also make sure to include reviews and testimonials from existing patients wherever possible. The most frequently visited pages on medical practice websites are:

  • About Us / Meet the Team
  • Services
  • Contact Us / Location
  • Reviews and Testimonials

Mistake #2: Not Mobile-Optimized

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults now own a smartphone—a number that has grown 35% over the past five years. If your medical website design isn’t mobile-optimized, you’re missing a huge opportunity to attract new patients. When smartphone and tablet users land on your site and they can’t easily read or navigate it, they’ll move on to the next practice.

Most website design companies can help you create a site using responsive design, which allows Web pages to automatically reformat according to the size of the screen they’re being viewed on.

Mistake #3: Not SEO-Friendly

Letter dice in front of a keyboard - SEO

Not only do you need to create a great site, you also need to make it easy for patients to find. Medical websites that aren’t SEO-optimized won’t show up in search engine results when patients use Google, Bing or another engine to look for a provider.

Make sure your medical website design is SEO-friendly by using elements such as meta descriptions, keywords and page titles. This can be challenging and time-intensive to do yourself, since it requires in-depth knowledge of the right keywords to use and involves optimizing the text on both the front and the back end. For these reasons, it’s best to hire a Web developer or SEO consultant to handle it for you. Ideally someone with a track record of helping medical practices.

You can also try marketing your site using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: In this model, ads for your practice appear in a box along the top or side of search engine results, and you pay every time someone clicks on them. If you do use paid advertising, make sure you analyze your website metrics to track whether it’s worth the investment.

Mistake #4: Hard to Read, Literally

Though it may sound like an obvious mistake to avoid, many practices create websites with text that’s hard to read. They may use dark text on a dark background, light text on a light background or a font that’s tiny or hard to make out. Your font should clearly stand out and must be a good size for visitors to read comfortably.

Another common healthcare website design mistake is creating a “wall of text,” where the page is essentially a long, unbroken stream of words and sentences. This can overwhelm visitors and cause them to navigate away to a site that’s easier to decipher. Use page elements such as bulleted lists, images and charts, and keep paragraphs and sentences short. Again, make sure the most important information is easiest to find.

Also ensure the text pages on your site aren’t formatted too wide. Visitors should be able to read your page on an average-sized computer screen without having to scroll left and right.

Mistake #5: Hard to Read, Figuratively

Another common mistake on websites for doctors is using language that’s overly complex, or that uses too much medical jargon. Write with the layperson in mind: Use words and phrases that an average person with the conditions you treat would understand. If you do need to use a more complicated term, make sure you define it clearly somewhere on your site.

Mistake #6: No Blog, or a Blog That Isn’t Updated Regularly

Blog and blogging concept illustration

One important thing your medical practice website may be missing: a blog section that you and your staff update regularly. This is where you can showcase your expertise by posting helpful tips and explanations.

According to a survey by Pricewaterhouse Cooper, the online medical resources patients trust most are those posted by doctors (chosen by 60% of respondents) and nurses (mentioned by 56%). If you post current news and updates about the conditions you treat on your blog, patients will use it as a trusted resource for learning about their health issues. This drives more traffic to your site and builds credibility with your patients.

Patients may also share this content with their friends and family through email or social media—providing free publicity for your practice. Finally, regularly updated blog content can help your website rank higher in search engine results.

There is the question of who is going to write this content given your busy schedule, which is why we recommend you hire an online marketing firm specializing in working with medical practices.

Mistake #7: An Unengaging, Unattractive or Unprofessional Site

Your website needs to look good—but more importantly, it needs to engage visitors. Within the first few seconds of landing on your site, potential patients need to find the information they’re looking for and be compelled to take action. You can encourage them to do this by:

  • Including reviews and testimonials from real patients
  • Providing detailed information about your staff and services
  • Using forms or buttons that make it easy for visitors to request a consultation or book an appointment

Of course, the appearance of your site still matters. The better your site looks, the more patients will want to visit it—and the more trustworthy your practice will appear. The key here is to avoid using a general web designer and instead to pick a web services firm that is a specialist like you. You’ll be much more likely to get a website that converts visitors into appointments if you work with a firm whose focus is working with medical practitioners.

Use medical online marketing firm that offers a range of patient attraction design templates. With so many medical practice websites out there, a unique design will help yours stand out from the crowd.

Finally, make sure your website design presents a professional appearance for your practice. Avoid using page elements such as auto-playing video or audio: Not only is this distracting, it can also cause pages to glitch or freeze while loading. This will drive visitors away, never to return.

Mistake #8: No Calls to Action

Remember, you are sending visitors to your website for a reason: You want them to do something, such as book an appointment or schedule a consultation, once they’re there. Make sure you use clear calls to action that tell the visitor exactly what they should do.

Use page elements that help the visitor complete the desired action—for example, a button they can click to make an appointment or a form they can fill out to request a consultation. And of course, make sure your practice’s contact information is clearly displayed.

Mistake #9: Lack of Social Media Integration

Businessman planning social media strategy on laptop

Social networks are one of the best tools to spread the word about your practice: In fact, 41% of people say social media would impact their choice of doctor, hospital or healthcare facility. Make sure social media buttons linked to your practice’s social profiles are clearly displayed on your website.

Design your website with more advanced social media integration. For example, you can include “click to share” functionality that auto-completes a post for visitors linking to your social profile, or that helps them easily share links or pages from your practice.

Make sure you and your staff are getting involved on social media, as well. Since 60% of social users trust posts by doctors over any other group, if you are sharing news and updates with current and potential patients, you’ll build credibility and trust for your practice.

Mistake #10: Managing the Website Yourself

The last healthcare website design mistake to avoid is creating and managing the website yourself. Even small websites today are complex, and customer expectations of the experience of visiting your site are high. Make sure you either have a designated IT person on staff, hire a Web developer or use another third party to handle design and maintenance. This will ensure the site looks great and is easy to use. Better yet, it will free you and your staff to focus on what you do best: providing great care to patients.

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