Six Common Medical Practice Website Mistakes

September 20, 2014
Drew Stevens, PhD

I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to medical practice websites. Here are a few of the common mistakes I see.

If one asked me 10 years ago whether a website was relevant, I would have been the first to suggest no. Yet, as the world moves increasingly towards electronic information, there is a dire need to have a website for your practice.

Your website is actually your electronic calling card, as the Internet has replaced the Yellow Pages as the go to source for information.

In my time consulting with doctors I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to medical practice websites. Here are a few of the common areas I see physicians make mistakes:

1. Poor Positioning
The first step with any website includes the ability to make the website memorable and reflect your broader medical practice brand. A brand creates a response among the public. Think of brands that you use that create eponymous communication. When you want to copy, you Xerox. When you require a personal computer, you purchase Dell or Apple. And, if you thirst, you desire Coke. These responses create emotion and get the public to act. Therefore when you position your website patients will become attracted because of the brand you emote.

2. Not identifying a target audience
Targeting allows you to appeal to a particular niche within a particular area. Think about who your ideal patient is, and then make sure your website appeals to him. For instance, one of my clients was a physician who desired to treat individuals with hypothyroidism. After a thorough alteration of her website, she was able to target this group in a city of three million potential patients and 516 other doctors. Within 71 days, her business increased by 41 percent.

3. Poor messaging
Patients do not invest in features but they do invest in benefits. The website messages must be carefully worded to include the issues prospective patients face (i.e. headaches, muscle ache, stress, fatigue etc.), and how your practice can help them deal with these issues. So the best methodology is to state the demographic the doctor works with and the results gained from working together. For example, your site might say, “We work with single mothers that are stressed to the max and suffer from chronic neck pain and migraines. We help to dramatically improve mobility and lessen tension.” Your prospective patient will read this and say, “My gosh, that is me, I need to know more!”

4. Lack of credibility
There are too many sites that lack the use of patient stories and testimonials. True, the information that you furnish is important, but the single best method to create relationships and prove you are the best doctor to work with is illustrated by your current patient base. Collect as many testimonials as possible in text, audio, and video form and place them strategically on the site.

5. Too much text and graphics
There must be enough text and graphics to tell a story, but not too much to inundate and frustrate. Go with the formula of less is more. This is especially important because there is a “recipe for success” on the Web known as “above the fold.”  Place as much information as possible on the website prior to the reader needing to scroll down. Too many pictures and words will confuse the reader and get them off your page. In fact, typical bounce rates for websites are approximately 88 percent and the average time on a site is 2.10 minutes.

6. Forgetting to direct
Your website must have a purpose and every page must have a purpose. Believe it or not, you must direct the reader like a crossing guard directs traffic. Every page has to create an action that gets the reader to do something.