Four qualities that make up a great medical practice website, and three ways to make your website fresh and appealing.
Physician practices of all sizes and specialties rarely maximize the impact they could have with a website. It’s a common problem, so common that I have developed worksheets and checklists for my clients to get out of their head and get into their website.
Two of the biggest problems I see are that practices don’t have a website, or they have one that is outdated and not well maintained.
If your practice doesn’t have a website, then your first step is to get a site - TODAY.
The bigger challenge is what to do with your site once you have it.
You probably know the basics, but just in case, here they are:
1. Look into a user friendly website platform. WordPress, for example, offers one of the best platforms for your website. With a little shopping around you can get a custom, professional WordPress site designed for about $2,500 (that should include logo design, and branding for your social media platforms to match). Hosting and domain purchase and registration will cost about $70 to $100 per year. I advise you to use a hosted WordPress site and NOT one originating from wordpress.com or .org. Using a platform like Wordpress allows you or your staff to easily make simple changes, and to easily publish your blog if you desire.
2. Check for easy loading. Your site should take less than three to four seconds to load. Avoid dense, heavy graphics; animations; auto-started videos or music; and pop-up ads that monopolize the entire screen until you close out or click through the ad. (Pop-ups that float can be useful for mailing lists if you test them in your market and determine if they are right for you.)
3. Your page should be viewable on all browsers and all mobile devices. You will have a fair amount of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome users that come to your site. Make sure that your content is viewed easily on at least the top three browsers. Also, in this day and age, many people will be using their smartphones and tablets to find you online, so make sure you have a mobile page option (very easy to set in WordPress) and ensure that viewers can turn it on and off.
4. Connect to social media. Use your website to drive patients to your clinic’s Facebook fan page, Twitter account, LinkedIn company profile, and even YouTube channel, if you have one.
If you hate dealing with technical issues, then make it easy on yourself and your practice manager and get a little assistance from a practice management consultation firm that can either communicator between your practice and your website or design the site altogether for you. Many of our clients find it difficult to work with large design firms and instead prefer the specialization of a company similar to mine, that can generate a custom website for you in less than 30 days.
Your Web presence is far too important to leave to chance. Without a good website, your practice’s image could get stale, which can seriously detract from your practice’s bottom line.
Here's how keep your website fresh and appealing:
1. Update. Your website should be updated at least once per month. Check to make sure that all of your copyright dates are updated. Make sure that your professional photo is up to date (no fresh-out-of-med-school glamour shots, unless you are really fresh out of medical school).
2. Add a blog. Statistically somewhere between 60 percent and 80 percent (depending on the source) of Internet users look up medical information online. If you have a blog with small posts about the aspects or ailments you are most passionate about, your site will become a living resource. Blog posts on your site can be just as detrimental if your last post was months or years ago. Aim for one to two posts per month: At least one should be original information; the other could link to and discuss an interesting article or information from another trusted source. If you sprinkle in a few posts about events or a particular upcoming holiday, you are running a well-maintained blog.
It is important to utilize someone in your office to proofread your posts or even a freelance editor to check your copy for errors. (I do it!) You want to make sure that you aren’t frightening off educated patients who may be turned off by grammatical errors. Be careful to ensure that your editor doesn’t remove your “voice” from the post.
3. Stay-in-touch. If you aren’t utilizing your website to stay-in-touch with your patients and prospective patients, you are missing the proverbial marketing boat! Weekly is best, but even a monthly e-newsletter is better than nothing. This helps you stay in the forefront of your patients' minds and ensure you are their go to resource.
Successful practices are not run on old-school methods. Step your Web presence up a notch by taking advantage of the many ways your new patients can connect with your practice online.