Running a medical website is not like running any other kind of website. Not only does your information need to be current, precise and informative, but poor site functionality can actually cost lives in addition to driving away potential patients. Here are just 10 tips for medical website design that will keep you from making avoidable mistakes.
1. Know Your Demographic
If you are a pediatrician, you will want a friendly, colorful website that straddles the line between fun and professional. If you run a rehab facility, you will want your site to be soothing and serene. There’s no “one size fits all” aesthetic when it comes to medical websites, so take a look at your target audience and figure out what they’ll respond to the best.
2. Utilize SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of drawing traffic to your website. It is important for any business with an online presence, but it is especially critical for healthcare professionals since so many of their patients will find their site through the Googling of symptoms and medical conditions. Make sure you are utilizing things like keywords and internal links for your clinic.
3. Improve Your Site Navigation
There are many ways to help a user find what they are looking for on your website. The two most common are vertical sidebars and horizontal drop-down menus. There are pros and cons for each kind of navigation, but the gist is that sidebars are more neatly organized while drop-down menus offer more options, so you’ll want the former for a clean aesthetic and the latter for a site with long lists of tests and procedures.
4. Embrace Color Psychology
Avoid the use of red in your medical website; it is an alarming color, a panic-inducing color, and one that is not suited to healthcare websites unless you are deliberately trying to scare or provoke patients into calling you. Instead, use soft colors and pastels that will inspire feelings of comfort and serenity. This is the best way to soothe patients and reel them in.
5. Use Layman’s Terms
Complicated terminology may look impressive on your website, but the average person is not going to understand it, which means they will not connect with it either. A better option is to use everyday language and clearly explain whatever medical jargon is unavoidable. Not only will this present you as a friendly, approachable physician, but it will also ensure that patients are getting the information they need to make informed healthcare decisions.
6. Break Out of the Mold
Take a look at the websites of your competitors. What strategies are they using? What SEO techniques are they favoring? Study them closely to learn their tricks then go in the complete opposite direction and do something entirely different with your own website. This will set you apart from other doctors in your area and make you stick out in the memories of patients who are comparing and contrasting multiple physicians in their search for “the one.”
7. Become a Resource
In addition to offering information about tests, symptoms and procedures, make a habit of linking to other, non-competitor websites so patients can learn more about their conditions and diseases. For instance, you might link to the CDC if you want to share flu statistics or tips on not spreading contagious diseases.
8. Integrate Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to healthcare information. If you are sharing information on the flu during flu season, a few “share this” or “retweet this” buttons will get the word out and draw new visitors to your website. You can create viral content out of just about anything if you are correctly integrating social networks into your website. Talk to experts, like Solution21, to learn more about social media management and the power of the reblog.
9. Highlight Useful Information
What are your office hours? What types of insurance do you accept? What are your phone number, fax number and email address? These things should be displayed prominently throughout your website no matter what topic is being discussed on the page. For example, it does not matter if the page is about pricing options or the side effects of hormone therapy; you should include a call to action at the end of it.
10. Incorporate Feedback
At the end of the day, the most powerful tool you have is the voice of your audience. Is your website clear and direct? Are your images slow to load? Do they think you should have a better search function? You will want to listen to your patients and actually use the data they present to you. It is valuable stuff.
If you are serious about improving the functionality of your medical website and drawing new patients to your practice, these are just ten tips you will want to consider before going to the graphic designers. Good luck!