Spruce Up Your Web Site

October 14, 2010

Maintaining a Web site is an important part of marketing your practice. Be assured that patients will judge your practice, in part, by the quality of your Web site. Don't be caught lacking.

Congratulations - you have a Web site. At least most of you do and that's great, but have you looked at it recently?

Before I start working with a medical practice, I always visit its Web site first. I look at it critically: both from a patient's point of view, as well as a marketing perspective. I want to know if it is only a shell for basic information, or is there real power in the site? Does it have relevant content that will be useful to patients?

There are several questions that you should ask yourself about your practice's Web site: Does it represent your practice well; provide added benefit to your patients; is it an effective tool for the community to reach you; and does it let patients get to know your practice? Take a good look at your Web site and the image it presents. If it doesn't make you proud, it may be time to spruce it up.

Here are some components essential to maximizing a Web site's image and content:

Design. Start with font and color. The pages of a well-designed Web site should to be easy to read and calming to the eyes. If a reader has to strain to read information, they will usually move on to another site. If you have a practice logo, apply it to every page of your Web site - it is a visual imprint that identifies and brands your practice and helps readers to remember you.

Mission statement. Your mission statement should be clearly stated on the home page, along with vital statistics about your practice such as the names and credentials of your practice's providers, practice locations and hours, and a brief description about who you are and what you do. Remember, less is more.

Pictures. The home page is a visitor's first stop at your Web site and it's important to make a good impression. Pictures of the physicians are nice, but a photo with a smiling patient trumps a headshot by a mile. Other pictures have appeal as well - pictures of your staff, the beautiful reception room, and outdoor landscaping. But trust me - no one wants to see clinical diagrams or anatomical drawings of body parts. Visitors to your Web site want a pleasant visual experience. They want to know how they will benefit by selecting your practice.

Information. Keep it simple: Patients are interested in discovering that you have convenient hours, bilingual staff members, or accept their insurance. They are not necessarily interested in learning more about your special training, especially when it is something they may not understand. This type of information is better placed on a separate page of your Web site, with a link provided on the home page for interested readers.

Publicity. If you have recent publicity to tout such as a feature article in the local paper, having a link to it from your Web site will give you more exposure. The same is true of video clips or podcasts, if you have been fortunate enough to be interviewed on television or talk radio.

Up to date. Another important piece of advice is to visit your Web site every few months and make sure it is up to date. It will irritate a reader to link to a tab about your latest events only to find information that is one or two years old. It will tarnish your image and may leave the reader thinking your practice may not be keeping current with other matters, such as clinical guidelines.

Finally, it doesn't hurt to check out the competition. Occasionally search the Web for other physicians in your geographic area and specialty. Check out their Web sites and see what their user experience is like. What impression do they give visitors? Then it's time to revisit your site with that fresh in your mind. Do you measure up? After all, you don't want the competition outshining your practice.

Judy Capko is a healthcare consultant and author of the popular books “Secrets of the Best Run Practices” and “Take Back Time.” Based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., she is a national speaker on healthcare topics. She can be reached at judy@capko.com or
805 499 9203.