What Every Medical Website Should Have

Five tips for building your practice’s site

In this video published by MedPage Today, Ron Harman King, CEO of Vanguard Communications and author of The Totally Wired Doctor: Social Media, the Internet & Marketing Technology for Medical Practices, discusses the essentials for every doctor website.

A website is the first step in marketing your medical practice. This video shows examples of effective – and less effective – web designs that will help you build your own site to serve current and future patients.

Watch video on MedPage Today

Video transcript

Today we’re going to look at the essentials of websites for physicians and healthcare providers. What are the must-haves for doctor websites?

Fundamentally, a healthcare provider’s website should accomplish two goals: It should communicate with and serve current patients and prospective patients. If you already have enough patients, you usually don’t need as large of a website or as much information on the site in comparison to a practice needing more patients.

In today’s video, we’ll look at five essential ingredients that every healthcare provider or provider group should have on a website. In the next video in this series, we’ll explore five more ingredients for websites for provider groups who need more patients.

For healthcare providers in general, a website should have the following:

  1. The first essential ingredient is something website visitors won’t see: Either a popular, open-source content management system, or CMS, or online website builder software. CMS is simply software that lets you edit a website as though it were a word processing document. This kind of software eliminates the need for a web developer every time you want to update the website. All anyone needs is a little bit of training and practice, and voila, he or she can update the website on his or her own. This saves much time and money. Open-source means it’s royalty-free and thus no licensing fee is required. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are some of the most common software examples in this category.
  2. A clean, uncluttered design that’s also mobile responsive. The biggest mistake in all communications, including web communications, is that people try to say too much. We see countless healthcare website pages that are chock-a-block with endless text. Remember, the web is a scanning medium as much as it is a reading medium. Don’t make people work too hard and read too much on your web pages. Less is more. Also strive for what’s called a mobile-responsive website. This means that special coding allows the site to be readable on smaller screens such as on computer tablets and smart phones. We achieve mobile responsiveness through a special type of computer coding called responsive design. This is where you need an experienced web developer. A good one will know exactly how to incorporate responsive design into your site, which is important because today our research tells us that more than half of visitors to healthcare websites are on smartphones.
  3. An easy-to-remember website address. We humans can’t always drop everything wherever we are and look at a website, even when we want to. Many times we get around to visiting a website hours or days after we’ve heard about it. But often we can’t remember the address. So avoid the temptation to focus too much on using your personal or practice name in your website address and instead pick an address that’s catchy, memorable and easy for all patients to spell.
  4. Use plain language that speaks to patients, not other doctors. How often has someone accused you of being too clear? It doesn’t happen, right? People want straight facts and they want them fast and easy to understand. We don’t talk or email or write greeting card notes to our family members in the same kind of style you find in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Instead, use conversational language on your website, and your website visitors will thank you for it.
  5. Include contact and location information. You want patients to find you. Make it easy for them by providing addresses and phone numbers for all office locations on the website. Be sure also to make the phone numbers clickable on your web pages for smartphone users. And include a Google Map of your locations – it will help make the site easier to find in a Google search and give patients driving directions.

Those are the five basics for all doctor websites. In our next video, we’ll explore four more basics for providers wanting to attract more patients.

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