RX For Your Practice Website

Written by on December 31, 2013 in Features - No comments

Let The Professionals Do It!

When it comes to creating a website for yourself or your practice, the prescription is pretty self-evident.  It literally pays for physicians and health care providers to enlist the services of an experienced web design company to do the work for you.

In the medical profession, patients benefit from enlisting the services of experienced practitioners and specialists who know their craft, are passionate about what they do, and deliver the best results possible.  The same is true in the field of website creations.

Did you know that 97% of consumers now search online for local services?* You’re almost certainly one of them!

We live in a time when a practice’s online visibility and identity are critical.  If your business doesn’t rank highly for key search terms in your field, you are essentially invisible to motivated prospects who are looking for a provider just like you.  Equally important, if you are found, but leave an unremarkable impression, you’re likely to lose business to other practices that have mastered internet marketing more effectively.

It’s not unreasonable to assert that in 2014, any business that wishes to be viewed credibly needs a well conceived website that can tell its story effectively and be found by search engines. For the same reason it would be unrealistic for patients to “heal thyself,” successful medical practitioners understand why this critical task belongs in the hands of the experts.

Here are three key reasons:

Web design professionals understand effective design.  Just as grocery stores know where to place their meats, milk and veggies, there is a science to designing websites that will encourage reader engagement.  Even if potential patients can’t articulate why they don’t like a particular website, they intuitively know when they are looking at an amateurish presentation.  And there’s a very good likelihood they won’t stay long or follow up to make an appointment.  First impressions truly are lasting impressions.  Bad ones are difficult to overcome.

An effective design will draw the reader’s attention to different places on the monitor in a logical progression and will provide the information that he or she is most likely to seek.  It is likely to use pictures, colors, type sizes and graphics effectively, to help messages stand out.  The essentials, such as phone number, address and a call-to-action such as scheduling an appointment will be very visible and prominent throughout the website.

In 2000, website usability expert Steve Krug wrote one of the essential books on web design, called Don’t Make Me Think.  Steve’s mantra, followed by professional designers to this day, is that if you force site visitors to work too hard to find what they’re looking for, there’s a very good chance they’ll look elsewhere instead.  Effective web design, implemented by experienced professionals, ensures that your current and future patients will find what they’re looking for on your website.

Web design professionals understand search engine behavior.  Google alone has over 400 factors they consider when ranking businesses for specific search terms and they are constantly tweaking their formula and priorities.  Websites need to be well written, both for humans and search engines.  The accompanying meta tags that search engines index must spotlight the terms that will be sought out by consumers, in order to ensure online visibility.

Reputable web design companies do a good job of keeping up with the changes in search engine priorities and understand concepts like keyword density – making certain that the most important and frequently sought out terms appear with the right frequency on each page of the website.

Equally important, they have access to search data which will allow them to identify the terms that consumers are using to find specific types of business.  They will know the relative importance of a word like “doctor” versus one like “physician.”  They will understand how to apply this information to the copy they write and the code they insert, to resonate most effectively with humans and search engines.

Web design professionals understand how to tell your story.  We live in a world where every business has competition.  However, the reverse is also true.  Every business has unique assets which can be promoted effectively and utilized to differentiate itself from similar companies.  Without an effective “storyteller” on your side, your website is likely to fade into the background with all the other unremarkable competitors.  By taking the time to provide site visitors with information they are looking for and will retain, you give yourself the best opportunity to earn prospects’ business and trust.

Reputable web design companies will take this process a step further, by researching best practices for specific industries.  They will understand and apply this information in the presentation of their client’s message.

When it comes to creating your website identity, it may tempting to cut corners and save a few dollars, by enlisting the “services” of a friend or relative, or by trying to do it yourself.

The end result, if you head down this path, is almost certainly going to be poorly conceived, poorly written, difficult to find by search engines and most importantly … ineffective in attracting new patients and serving your existing ones.  Conversely, a professionally designed, written and coded website is likely to be visible online and create the type of memorable impression you desire.

In the final analysis, here’s a good exercise to undertake.  Consider the lifetime value of a new patient to your practice and compare that to the investment you’ll be making in an effective website.  If your online profile plays a key role in introducing even a handful of new patients to your practice in a year’s time, it will pay for itself many times over.  Factor in the value of your personal time as part of the do-it-yourself alternative and there is no question that using a professional web design company is a great use of your practice’s resources.  It’s the best way to manage a key element of your marketing and overall brand and an essential cost of doing business if you want to be credible with patients and prospects.

*-Source: BIA/Kelsey

By Bob Bedi
Media Integrations

Bob Bedi is the Senior Partner at Media Integrations, a national branding and marketing strategies company, based in Raleigh, NC.  The company specializes in brand identities, market segmentation strategies, web design and social media implementation.

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