Websites are one of the most valuable marketing tools for businesses of all sizes, shapes, and industries, and perhaps even more valuable to healthcare practitioners considering that 61 percent of American adults look online for health information.(ref.1) Ensuring that your medical, dental, or surgical website is appealing to this online audience is essential.
Great website designs are valuable and prove that value year after year. However, website design is more than colors, photos, and layout. The most valuable web designs incorporate elements of branding, usability, lead generation, and accessibility.
Building a successful web presence starts with a website. A corporate website should communicate the brand’s main value proposition. The logo, color scheme, and language should all be consistent with other marketing collateral. Apple is a great example of consistent branding that matches the philosophy of the company.
Usability is an assessment of how easy a website is to navigate and use. Usability is hugely important and needs to be kept in mind in website design – if visitors to a website can’t figure out how to use it then the website isn’t very valuable. Prioritize the tasks you want visitors to take, then follow best practice guidelines to make these tasks as easy as possible.
Test your design before it goes live. Have objective eyes navigate through the site and give you honest feedback, preferably someone who has nothing to do with the design process. It’s much better to find usability roadblocks during testing than 6 months down the road after customers have complained.
A design that is useable with clear process funnels will provide value to the company every time someone visits the site.
Lead generation is an important function of any website, though it is commonly an after thought in the design process. The ability to capture information from people who want your product or services is highly beneficial. Designs that maximize lead generation use A/B testing to find the optimal layout and language, and offer to entice users to give up their information. Even the most simple lead generation tactics will increase the number of interested customers who come to your office. Imagine if your website generated 30, 100, or even 1,000 leads per month – how would that impact your bottom-line?
Technology changes at a rapid pace, the biggest trend over the last few years is mobile computing. Today people access the Internet from a wide variety of devices: smart phones, desktop computers, tablet computers, etc. This has made accessibility extremely important. Your website needs to be accessible on all the major devices without compromising user experience. Mobile responsive websites eliminate the need for separate websites, which is more cost effective and easier to manage. Web designs that accomplish a seamless user experience across platforms without creating a mobile website hosted on a subdomain are best.
A website also needs to be accessible to search engines. Google is the search leader by a huge margin, accounting for 83 percent of the market share.(ref 2) This equates to just over 2 billion searches on Google each day. Search engines use robots called spiders that crawl the Internet to find websites. If your website isn’t accessible to the search engine spiders then you’re missing out. SEO aims at not only making your website accessible to search engines but maximizing the visibility of your website in the major search engines.
Good web design is priceless: it tells users where to go and what you want them to do. It generates leads and is accessible to search engine spiders, mobile users, and desktop users.
All website design isn’t created equal and paying more won’t necessarily get you more. When you are searching for a website designer or design firm make sure you look through his/her past work. Don’t just browse portfolios, go to the actual websites. Click around the sites to make sure they are functional. Also, take note of the items we discussed above. Is the site user friendly? Is the brand well represented? Can you visit the website from your smartphone or tablet? Avoid using website design companies that use a template approach, which is very common in medical website design. You will notice templates when you look through enough of the work and find that all the sites are very similar with only slight variation. Template websites fail to address the unique qualities of your business and your customers.
This is a great blog post from Mashable that reviews the must have features for all business websites.