Design Principles for your Medical Website
Website design for medical professionals may be an unfamiliar topic for most. When a practice embarks on a website design project, they may quickly become overwhelmed by the number of options available today and the decisions that need to be made along the way. This doesn’t have to be the case. Each medical website design project is unique and accurately reflect the image and reputation of the practice. Through the incorporation of colors, textures, images and unique text, this “feel” is communicated to current and potential clients. While most medical staff, engaged web designers and SEO experts understand how to build websites for healthcare professionals, it is important for staff to understand the basic design elements that every effective website has. Every website looks and feels different and the public has come to expect certain functional elements to be included in every website. These elements include space, easy navigation, about us page, contact us page, sign up page, search function and page footer with additional information. Each of these items makes the website easier to use and discover the information that the viewer is looking for. If a website is crowded, confusing or difficult to navigate, the viewer will begin feeling frustrated and quickly leave the site. In most cases, they will go to the website of a competitor. This is never the goal of medical website design. Given that 70% of individuals who are searching for a healthcare provider will begin with the internet, it is important that the design of a medical website be given great thought. Another consideration is the 90% of women make the healthcare decisions for their families. They are looking for practitioners who are reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy. Therefore, websites that are designed to appeal more to women will be more successful. These often incorporate lighter, airy overall images and “feel”. Dark websites that are “heavy” in appearance will be less successful in attracting female clientele with families.
Many people have the irresistible urge to fill all of the available areas of a web page with text, images, and design elements. This should be avoided as white space plays a valuable role in website design by aiding in readability and overall attractiveness. Also, white space around a block of text or an image serves to highlight the element drawing the eye toward it. It also gives the image or text a feeling of importance for the viewer. In addition to open space around images, web designers are beginning to increase the amount of space between lines of text to increase readability. The important thing to remember is that the amount of white space should remain consistent throughout the website. Finally, the term “white space” refers to areas without design elements so the area may actually be the background color and not necessarily white.
Website navigation needs to be simple and clear to use. This helps visitors find their way around the site and easily discover the information that they are looking for. Limiting the number of navigation buttons to somewhere between five and ten will keep the site looking clean and make it easier to use. When websites are easy to use, people tend to stay on them longer.
About Us Page
The about us page is a medical provider’s opportunity to share information about their practice and its values. Key information can be provided about staff so that viewers develop an understanding of the quality and focus of the practice. It is also an area where key services, products or specialized treatments can be discussed. In essence, this is an area where potential clients learn about a health care provider’s background, the staff’s qualifications and the aspects that set this particular practice apart from other healthcare providers in the area. The about us page is also a great place to share customer testimonials and success stories. Sharing these types of first person accounts builds the practitioner’s credibility as a knowledgeable industry professional and enhances the practice’s brand in the community. Unfortunately, many people try to include too much information on the about us page. This can lead to a cluttered page. Also, people do not often read long blocks of text in today’s world. It is better to keep the text simple and clean. Bullet pointing key points is also an effective way to highlight items that you don’t want to be missed.
Contact Us Page
This seems to be an evident piece of information to include but often the information gets buried so that it becomes difficult to find. Keep things simple and include a brief page that shows how potential clients can contact the practice for more information or to arrange an appointment. This is also a great place to link to a map so that new clients will have an easier time locating the office on their first visit.
Sign Up Page
Sign up pages are often used for newsletter enrollment. If this is how a healthcare professional decides to use a sign-up page, the sign-up box should be prominent on the page. This goal can be achieved through the use of colors and a centrally located form.
Websites should include a search bar. This allows visitors to quickly locate the information on the site that they are looking for. These should be a simple search form that allows users to enter their query. In particular, repeat visitors find this function particularly useful for finding older information that they remember seeing on the site in the past.
The footer is a way to provide access to much more information that may be relevant to the visitor without crowding the current design. This is a great place to have contact information, company information and a link to a site map.
Website design and medical marketing strategies don’t have to be overwhelming. Once you understand basic design principles, you and your web designer will be able to develop a site that accurately reflects the practices and conveys valuable information to current and potential clients.