There are no two ways about it: the world has gone digital. Hence, healthcare practices must also become savvier when it comes to reaching today’s hyper-connected patients.
Fortunately, most practitioners already have a website that serves as their online calling card. If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your site, however, it may have features that hinder rather than help you attract new patients.
In this in-depth article, we tackle why good healthcare website design matters — and how you can achieve it.
Why does good Web Design matter?
Many people think that Web Design is all about aesthetics. While style is certainly part of it, it is by no means the central component. A well-made website has one goal in mind: to give users a great browsing experience. Great medical website designs allow you to:
- Make a good first impression
- Cater to mobile users
- Serve your website quickly
- Inspire action
- Provide greater security
Your website is your online brand ambassador. After all, it’s accessible 24/7 and tells future patients exactly how you can serve them.
It’s also usually the first touchpoint people will have with your practice. As this study from Pew Research shows, almost 45% of people look up information about health professionals online.
The question, however, is what will greet them when they open your website. Will it be a slick and easily navigable home page? Or a site that’s confusing to use?
In an industry as trust-based as healthcare, the former will no doubt instill more confidence among users. This is backed up by data, too: 57% of people won’t recommend a business with a poorly built website on mobile.
In short, having an excellent healthcare website design helps you make a good first impression, which in turn helps you attract more patients.
It’s hard to overstate just how ubiquitous mobile devices are. These internet-capable gadgets became mainstream just over a decade ago, but in 2016 they had already surpassed desktops for internet traffic. Today, there are about 4.28 billion such devices in use, indicating that about 90% of the global internet population rely on smartphones and tablets to access the world wide web.
What does that mean for you? If your website isn’t mobile compatible, you could be missing out on a lot of potential clients. After all, a survey of 1,700 U.S. adults found that 80% of them went online to find health-related information. And where are they likely making these queries? On mobile devices, most likely.
To get ahead, you need to make sure your healthcare website design is mobile-responsive. This means that the components will automatically resize or reconfigure themselves depending on the size of a gadget’s screen.
For instance, a mobile-compatible site usually collapses the navigation bar into a so-called hamburger icon on the top corner. It’s a more user-friendly way of organizing and presenting the landing pages for your practice’s various specializations or services.
Did you know that humans now have an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish? In an era when people can get information on demand and where content is overflowing, this is hardly a surprise.
But shortening attention spans also means that websites cannot afford to be slow. In fact, one research showed that 47% of consumers expect websites to load in two seconds or less. Data from Google itself shows that the likelihood of a user “bouncing” or leaving a site grows by 32% as load times go from one to three seconds.
A prospective patient who’s suffering through a condition has no patience for slow-loading websites. They want to get the information they need now — not later.
Making your site speedier has other benefits, too. In 2018, Google made site speed a ranking factor for mobile searches as part of its initiative of delivering better user experience. Today, a slow website will be penalized and listed lower on search engine results pages (SERPs), reducing its online visibility.
A website’s goal is to entice users to take action, whether that’s booking an appointment with your clinic or setting up a remote consultation. A website that isn’t well thought out, however, makes doing so cumbersome.
Websites with top-notch healthcare website designs are laid out to present the information people need immediately, but they go one step further by making it easy to take the next step. This is usually accomplished by call-to-action buttons that streamline patient registration and consultation booking.
The goal here is to make the user experience as seamless and hassle-free as possible. In a digital world where people will bounce out of your website for any number of reasons, you cannot afford to make a prospective patient work harder than necessary to get in touch with you.
Companies covet data because it gives them a glimpse into the behavior and preferences of people who could be future customers. That’s why data is often said to be the most important resource in the digital age.
It’s unsurprising then, that the volume of private data records leaked publicly has increased by 141%, the highest number since 2005. Is it any wonder, then, why 90% of people around the world have experienced at least one major data privacy concern?
Data leaks are especially concerning for healthcare providers because they ask for very personal information from their patients. To book a consultation, for example, one has to provide their full name, address, birth date, contact number, and insurance provider, among other details.
An old website might not have the best security protocols and may be hacked to expose sensitive patient data. Not only is this detrimental to patients, but it can also severely damage a health practitioner’s reputation.
Elements of good website design
Understanding why a good Web Design matters is one thing, but identifying its characteristics is quite another. While different sites have different designs and features, the best medical website designs tend to share these characteristics:
- Functionality — A website has one job: to provide the information users need. At the bare minimum, every site must comply with this requirement. Healthcare web development experts know how to structure a page so that the most important information is always front and center. Moreover, they make sure that patients can easily access what they need, whether that’s the practice’s phone number or the appointment tool. A good website must also have properly functioning features — everyone knows how frustrating it is to fill out a form only to have it time out on you upon submission.
- Ease of use— If functionality deals more with user interface, usability pertains more to user experience. As any trusted healthcare website developer will tell you, experience is king — patients want frictionless access to the information they need. The best websites undergo rigorous prototyping so that every element is exactly in the right place. Each page should also have a logical content structure and information hierarchy to make navigation a breeze. Whether the user is a recurring patient who wants to set a follow-up appointment or a prospective client who wants to know more about your practice, your website should provide a great experience to them.
- Searchability — If your practice offers a broad range of services, finding a specific one can be challenging even if your site has a good information hierarchy. Rather than making users trawl through navigation menus, a smart healthcare website developer simply adds a search bar so people can find exactly what they need. Having a search bar also yields crucial insight into your potential patients’ needs and you can use this data to tweak your website’s design accordingly. Experts say any site that has more than 20 pages would benefit from having a search function.
- Clear signposting— Unless you make it clear what you want a user to do, they won’t take any action. This is why calls to action (CTAs) are one of the most vital elements of a well-designed website. Best practices dictate that CTA buttons should be above the fold and embedded in the banner image to entice people to click through. They must also stand out so they don’t get lost amid the background images and copy; for this reason, they often employ a bright color to catch the eye. Lastly, their placement must make sense for both desktop and mobile layouts.
- Search Engine Optimized — Good healthcare Website Design should encompass both the front-end and back-end, especially if you want your website to rank highly in Google searches. Hence, your HTML and CSS coding must render correctly across all browsers as user experience has now become a ranking factor. Likewise, pages must have keyword-optimized title pages, meta-tags, and headings that make it easier for a search engine to crawl and index them. Internal links should likewise be included to make navigation easier and to enable people to discover other pages on your site. All these optimizations can lead to better Google rankings, which in turn can attract more potential clients.
- Good visual presentation — Humans are inherently visual creatures and tend to judge a website by its appearance. Sites that look dated or unprofessional are unlikely to engage users, while aesthetically pleasing ones attract more clicks and scrolls. This is why good visual presentation must be a consideration in medical website designs. The imagery chosen must be both appropriate and engaging to be visually appealing. Likewise, the fonts chosen must look modern and authoritative to engender trust.
- Engaging copy — An outstanding website shouldn’t just look good, it must have substance, too. Good copy works together with Web Design to generate leads instead of just taking up space. This means that the copy must be just as hardworking as the design, providing users not just information but also convincing them why you’re the best practitioner to consult. Choose impactful words but steer clear of the jargon that clutters so many healthcare websites today. Moreover, your site must consistently publish high-quality content not only to enlighten prospects but also to bolster both your authoritativeness and search engine ranking.
- Clear branding — There are countless medical Website Designs on the Internet and yours shouldn’t have to look or feel like just another one. Skilled website designers understand your brand’s personality and infuse it into the design through imagery, colors, and other visual elements. The result is a website that’s uniquely yours, one that embodies the kind of care and expertise only you can provide.
Other best practices you should know about
Aside from the elements above, there are certain best practices that all top-notch medical websites follow, including:
- Keep important things above the fold — Don’t make people needlessly scroll to find the information they need; front-load all crucial details above the fold so people can see it at a glance. Be sure to include your key message, specializations, and call-to-action, among other details. Likewise, keep it straight to the point — you can parcel out other details across your website, so there’s no need to cram everything above the fold.
- Compress your images — High-quality photos are a must for your website, but don’t let big file sizes bog down your loading speed. Ideally, photos must be under five megabytes for optimal rendering. Luckily, many content management systems (including WordPress) offer compression tools that can reduce image sizes by up to 80% without any visible loss in quality. There’s another benefit to keeping image sizes petite: most websites are hosted on servers with limited storage capacity. The smaller your image files are, the more content your site can hold.
- Optimize your calls to action — Just because your website has CTA buttons doesn’t mean people will click them — they must be optimized to inspire action. For starters, the buttons must be easily clickable, which is especially crucial on mobile devices which have smaller screen real estate. The copy should also be highly persuasive: instead of “Book An Appointment Now” why not “Get The Relief You Need” instead? To help your CTA stand out, give it plenty of white space and avoid crowding it with text and visuals.
- Keep homepage copy short — Think of your homepage as the table of contents of your website — it should have just enough copy to entice a person to click and no more. Filling it with blocks of text may cause people to tune out and bounce off of your website. Concise copy, meanwhile, goes directly to the point and addresses exactly what people need from your site. If you notice that your copy runs more than a handful of sentences long, you may want to prune it.
- Make the design consistent — A tastefully designed website has a visual style that is consistently expressed even across different pages. Note that this doesn’t mean all pages should look the same; rather each one should bear the design hallmarks of the home page. This means there should be consistency in the color palette, visual elements, and design flourishes to create a coherent look and feel. Some healthcare web development companies use templates to achieve a unified look, tweaking each page as needed depending on its content.
- Pay attention to accessibility — It used to be that the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) guidelines applied only to brick-and-mortar stores. Given our reliance on the internet, however, these rules now apply to websites as well because they have effectively become a “public accommodation,” a place where people get information and services. Hence, modern websites must now also cater to people with impairments to their vision, hearing, speech, and mobility. Making your website more accessible also allows you to attract a new clientele you may have never tapped before.
- Keep track of analytics — The great thing about Digital Marketing is that you can analyze data to improve your results. This is true as well of websites, which allow you to see where people click, which pages get the most visits, and how long users stay on any given page. These data points yield priceless insights that can tell you how to tweak your website’s design. You can also run A/B tests, wherein you serve different versions of your website to different audiences to determine which layout gets more interactions.
Your medical practice deserves a website that’s not just functional but also in tune with today’s times. Redux Labs, a healthcare web development agency, can revamp your site and make it a cornerstone of your Digital Marketing strategy.
If you want to learn more about our Website Design services, call us at 1.888.995.5227, send an email to hello(at)reduxlabs(dotted)com, or use our contact page. We look forward to helping you put your best foot forward on the world wide web.