As technology continues to advance and people have access to a wealth of resources at their scrolling thumbs, it’s important to realize that nearly every industry has become more consumer-focused.
Even for a traditionally more science and academic-focused vertical like healthcare, it has become more and more critical to provide patients with great digital experiences and easy access to information. After all, patients are consumers every other minute of the day, so it’s important to keep in mind that your website should be consumer-facing.
There is also a (very positive) new trend of patients being more involved in their own healthcare.
NBC News recently cited a Pew Internet & American Life Project study, noting, “In all, 80 percent of Internet users, or about 93 million Americans, have searched for a health-related topic online…that’s up from 62 percent of Internet users who said they went online to research health topics in 2001.”
With that being said, it’s probably time to take a look at your own practice’s website and see where improvements can be made.
First thing’s first: You need to be running your website on a platform that is right for you and your needs.
Different content management systems (CMS) appeal to different businesses—the amount of content, plugins, and flexibility you need will determine what option is best for you.
If you are a small business or looking for basic capabilities that can still look professional, WordPress is an intuitive platform that can make it quite simple to edit and upload content.
For an entire hospital network, you might need a more complex CMS like Drupal. Though it can feel a bit more challenging, and Drupal developers aren’t quite as common, it offers advanced features, power, and ease-of-use for larger or more intense websites.
There are a number of other platforms that are available, whether you are looking to build out the website on your own or are considering hiring an outside agency or freelance developer.
Just make sure to do your research (it’s a topic often talked about!) so you can be sure that you are making a choice that makes the most sense for your business.
One thing that is absolutely, positively a drop-dead must? Your website has to be responsive (aka mobile-friendly). According to Statista, over 51% of global online traffic is through mobile.
Bottom line: If your website doesn’t function well on a mobile device, you could be alienating more than half of your potential visitors.
We’re not telling you that you need to ignite a whole new rebranding, but it’s important to make sure your website is clean and sleek, yet welcoming.
Cooler tones, high-quality images (especially the use of more lifestyle images, if applicable), friendly copy, and the right use of fonts can help you achieve just that.
But there are so many fonts to choose from—how to decide? Check out this blog from WebsiteSetup to read up on the 15 best web-safe fonts.
In a relatively content-heavy industry such as healthcare or wellness, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the pages, details, and photos you might want to include. But you should note that the average consumer can become stressed, confused, or frustrated by clutter, so keep things simple.
Which brings us to navigation…
Similar to design, the navigation of your website needs to be intuitive, necessary, and concise.
You want patients or clients to easily get from Point A to Point B, regardless of what that Point B might be, so make sure your content is sensibly organized.
Some sections, of course, are critical to your business and could include:
- About Us (or About “Company Name”)
- Services (depending on your practice, it could make sense to have sub-sections of your services)
- Our Specialists (if applicable, having short bios with headshots of your practitioners adds a personal component)
- Make an Appointment (check out our most recent blog, Avoiding the Dreaded Scheduling Snafu, to learn more about the importance of online scheduling)
- Insurance (again, if applicable, providing a list of accepted insurance policies saves the patient—and your staff—the additional step of a phone call)
- Contact (include address, phone number, email, and ideally an embedded Google Map)
- Blog (more on that later…)
If there are standard forms that need to be filled out before all or most appointments, make sure they are easily accessible through the site. (Don’t worry, IntakeQ can help you with that!)
The more people have to click around to find what they need, the more likely they are to abandon your site all together. Just like design, keep navigation simple.
Simplicity has been our theme here, and we’re sticking to it.
“Content” has become a catchall word in marketing, but when it comes to your healthcare website, it likely describes the copy on your pages.
Now, we know that you have a lot to say. In industries like healthcare/wellness, technology, or even higher education, it can be easy to get lost in wanting to explain everything to your digital audience. It all feels important!
However, people are generally skimming your pages to find what they are looking for (after following your easy-to-use navigation, of course), so the key is to stick to high-level thoughts or messages that are easily understood, while nixing all the additional words.
There may certainly be particular jargon that’s necessary for your area of expertise, but most of the patients visiting your site haven’t graduated from medical school or received a special certification. So, while it may be important to keep official terms like conditions, procedures, and treatments, remember that explanations should be short and easy to comprehend. It also helps to keep your tone warm and friendly, as healthcare can seem daunting for patients.
Want a good rule to follow? When in doubt, cut it out.
And, if you have short and well-shot videos to add to the mix, you’re ahead of the game! Plus, don’t underestimate the power of using infographics and motion graphics—they help break down complicated concepts into simple, bite-sized pieces.
In 2018, you are hard-pressed to find a conversation about websites that doesn’t include the acronym SEO—search engine optimization.
It’s great if you have a beautiful, perfectly laid out website, but what’s the good in that if no one can find it?
Obviously keywords are important for a good SEO ranking, but there is much more that goes into it. Integrating certain searchable terms everywhere possible on your site will only leave you with cluttered, fluffy copy. (And will get you penalized by search engines anyway).
Search engines like Google also take into account the value of your content, so making sure that you are providing educational and fresh (read: regularly updated) content is imperative.
A great way to do this is by instituting a blog. Don’t get us wrong, we know that a blog is definitely a time commitment—and time equals money—but it can also help elevate the results position of your site, thus providing you with more patients. After all, here you are on IntakeQ’s blog!
See if someone on your staff has a knack for writing and brainstorm blog topics together, or you can look into hiring a third-party service to help you build out your content library.
Your website is most likely the first point of contact that potential patients have with your practice, so make it a positive experience that will help get the relationship off on the right foot.
That might mean investing a little time (or even money) into evaluating and updating your existing website. One thing that’s for sure? The payoff will be well worth it.