One of the first and most overwhelming marketing tasks for a new healthcare practice owner is creating a website. Options range from the DIY option on a site like Squarespace or Wix, to using a template website company like BrighterVision or a custom website designer.
You end up paying either in sweat or in dollars for your website that you hope will eventually help bring new clients or patients. One factor to keep in mind if you’re in the early stage of your practice is that your first practice website won’t be your last. Keeping it simple in the beginning can pay off if you need to change it a few months down the road when your practice is more established and you are a more experienced business owner.
Following are 4 tips for creating your first practice website (or for improving the one you have!)
Choose what kind of website makes the most sense for your practice stage
For your first website as you start out in your practice or healthcare business, building it yourself might just make the most sense. This is because so much of your new practice will likely change and develop the longer you are open. There’s a lot to figure out in a new practice–from who exactly you serve to what sets your services apart from everyone else. Investing heavily in a new practice website that might prove to be outdated in a few months is simply a waste. Sites like Squarespace and Wix are meant to be user friendly for those with no website design experience. Building it yourself always proves harder than it seems, but it’s definitely doable if you’re somewhat tech-savvy.
If DIY is not for you, your options are between a template company or a custom web developer. Sarah Gershone, therapy web developer and owner of Strong Roots Web Design compares the choices of using an affordable web developer like BrighterVision to renting a home versus owning one. At a certain stage in your practice, it makes the most sense to use the template websites from BrighterVision, but similarly to renting your home, you don’t own the website platform or have any control over the decisions that may affect your site. Later, when your practice is more established, Sarah says it may make the most sense to use a custom designer so that you control not only how your site looks, but also you are in total control as the full owner of your website.
Stay flexible with your first practice website
While it’s a good idea to have a sense of what kind of tone and vibe you want on your practice website, it’s important to stay flexible as you build it. Your website should reflect the practice you envision, but ultimately, it’s not about you. What you love visually might not be the style that attracts your prospective clients or patients.
Your website is not static, so don’t drive yourself crazy choosing photos that you can always change next week.
Pay attention to your user experience
In a split second, your website should tell visitors who you serve, how you do it and how they can work with you. That means having a clear one liner prominent above the fold (so visitors don’t have to scroll to read it) and a big, bold contact us button in the top right corner. Go ahead and add another contact buttons to the bottom of your homepage too (and more if you have a lot of homepage sections). It’s okay to repeat yourself because people skim.
Your user experience also means that your website should work nicely on mobile. All reputable platforms are built to be mobile friendly, but sometimes you have to tweak the code to make it work properly. Be sure to check if that’s the case.
Focus on your practice website copy over design
While design, content and navigation all matter, I’d argue website copy is the most important element of your practice website. Visitors need to effortlessly understand the product or service you offer and why it is right for them.
No matter how complicated your service may be, you need to break it down to language a child can understand. If you don’t nail the copy, the rest of the site can’t perform as well. The good news, is that you are already the expert you need for this part of the website project. Your business expertise and a few pieces of paper will do the job. By the time you’re done, you’ll have website content that works.
Here’s what content you should include on your practice website homepage
The service you provide
Start at the top with your one-liner that explains what you do for your clients. This is the most important part of your website. This should be short, to the point and speak to your customers’ needs. Without requiring them to think, you show them quite clearly that you understand their problem and are the right business to solve it. Click here to learn more about writing a one-liner for your business and get a formula to write it.
The benefits you offer
Next you’ll let your website visitors know the benefits of that service you provide. Do you make them feel better? Do you make their day easier? Do you save them time? Pick 3-5 and keep these simple so that they quickly and easily understand the value of working with you.
The costs of not working with you
If your website visitor decides to use the other guy or go it alone, let them know the costs of not working with you. Will they waste money? Waste time? Continue to feel lousy? Let them know what life will be like if they don’t use your services.
Who you are
This is the part where you finally get to say a little about yourself. Show them why you are the expert they need to solve the problem they have. Be sure to focus on the parts they will actually care about here. Do you deliver on time and on budget? Do you pay attention to details? Are you easy to talk to? Do you have deep knowledge in the area that most people don’t have? Say this in simple words here in the section about you and your business.
This is a great place to include a video about how your business helps clients.
How you help them
Show your customers the process they will go through as you support them. Let them understand a clear path you will take them on and what that journey will look like.
Testimonials and logos of clients you work with are important to include here, especially when you’re just getting started. This builds your authority and makes your potential clients see that they belong.
Common website copy pitfalls
Once you understand the framework of your website, be sure to avoid some common mistakes small business owners make when writing homepage website copy. This is especially common among small businesses that offer services.
Your website copy must be simple
It’s a good idea to always assume the visitors to your site are busy, distracted and in a hurry. Because they are. Like it or not, this is the reality for most internet users today, so the onus is on the business owner to grab their attention. What is the service or product you offer? Can your viewer understand that offering without having to think about it? The second a viewer can’t understand what your service is, you’ve lost them. As in, they’ve literally gone from your site and likely won’t return. Leave off the flowery and clever language that most businesses think they need.
This might seem obvious, but businesses that offer many services can have a hard time summing up what they offer in a simple structure. But, no matter how complicated your services are, you still need one simple brand statement that sums up what you do. That simple statement should appear in big, bold letters above the fold on your site. Check out this starter kit to help you develop your simple statement.
You can include the details of all your services in other internal pages on your website because there are of course viewers who will want all the information on what you offer. But, keep your website homepage copy really simple for all your new visitors who don’t already know, like and trust you.
Don’t focus on yourself in your homepage copy
As Donald Miller from Storybrand would say, “Your website is not a place to celebrate yourself.” No one but your mother cares when you started your business or how prestigious your awards are.
Take a look at your homepage and make sure it doesn’t read like an “All about me” page. This is especially common if you offer services, like counseling or creative services. Small business owners will start out in business because they are an expert at what they offer, and then their website homepage will read more like a resume.
Don’t get me wrong, much of this content may be important, but it doesn’t belong on your homepage. Focus instead on what you offer, how people can get it and why they should want your version of it.
Make it easy to buy your services
This may seem obvious, but so many businesses put a “contact us” button in one corner of their website and leave it at that. Make it really easy and obvious how to work with you. Calls to action like “Get to know us” or Get started” are vague. Make it really obvious that this is how they purchase your services. Keep in mind that your website users will be scrolling, so the call to action button to buy your services should always be present.
Address the problem your audience has and how you can solve it
Website visitors typically come to your site with a need. Your homepage should directly address the problem that they have and explain that you are the perfect business or practice to solve it.
You can get to the heart of this by putting yourself in your viewers’ mindset. What are the questions they commonly ask you? Where do they start out when you typically first meet them? Your homepage content should speak to them where they are at. Acknowledge the problem they have, let them know you understand it, you’ve seen this before and you can make it better.
Now, be sure you make it really obvious to the user how they can work with you and benefit from your services. This may seem obvious, but it’s a mistake that small business owners offering services often make.
Once you simplify your site, focus on your services and your potential audience, you will be all set to capture the attention of your audience.