Creating Your First Practice Website – 10 Essential Tips

When it comes to medical website design, it’s important to remember that your Practice website is the single biggest online asset that connects all of your business efforts. With the growing number of patients browsing the internet for anything and everything, it makes sense for your Practice to leverage a website, otherwise you miss a huge opportunity for reaching new patients, and for keeping existing patients informed and connected to your Practice. With 73% of Australians surfing the internet for treatment and medical advice, having a Practice website is crucial to your identity and growing your business.

A good website shows you are serious about your business and that you care about your visitors. It’s all about perception – if it looks like you don’t care about your Practice website, then maybe you don’t care about other aspects of your Practice.

Practice Website Benefits Include:

  • A reduced workload for staff
    A detailed and easy to use website can do a lot of work for you, and save your staff time answering frequently asked questions on the phone. This time can be spent on more pertinent Practice matters, so that time can be more efficiently spent in the core focus of serving patient needs. Patients no longer have to call to make appointments or to ask how comprehensive your services are – all they need is to visit your website to get what they’re looking for!

  • 24/7 access to appointments and other online services
    Your website never sleeps, and your patients will be able to make appointments, request scripts and referrals, and access other online services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The expert website developers at Healthsite have helped hundreds of medical Practices around Australia take the first step into the digital marketplace. We have put together this list of hints and tips for creating your first Practice website, or updating an existing one.

Tip #1 - Know Your Target Audience

Before you start building a website, ensure that you understand your target audience. Your target audience will affect the website’s design, content, usability, and navigation. In short, your website revolves around your target audience.

At Healthsite, we help guide you through this process and start from the ground up to lock in your basics, such as the kind of patients you want to attract, your strengths and weaknesses, and the things that set you apart from your competitors.

Tip #2 - Mobile-Friendly Medical Website Design is Essential

More and more internet users are accessing websites on their phones and portable devices, with about 52% of webpage views coming from a smartphone

Because of this, it is important that your Practice website displays correctly and provides a great user experience on mobile devices. Mobile friendly design (sometimes called “responsive design”) is non-negotiable in 2021. Not just for user experience, but also for search engine optimisation – Google rewards websites that are mobile friendly (among other things). Many websites we manage have up to 75% of website visits occurring from a mobile device.

Tip #3 - Easy Navigation and Clear Calls to Action

There is nothing worse than trying to find information on a confusing website. People are time poor and will bounce off your website if they are unable to find what they are looking for quickly. You need to make sure your website is well-organised, easy to navigate, and has clear Calls to Action (CTAs).

Calls to Action, or CTAs are the things that encourage visitors to take an action, like booking an appointment through “Book Online” buttons, calling the Practice with “Call Now” buttons, downloading a document, or encouraging content sharing.

Not all CTAs are made equal, but those of great importance should be VERY easy to find on your Practice website. For example, a “Book Appointment” button should stand out and be easily accessible at all times.

The same can be said for phone number CTAs – this is especially important on mobile phones, as many people will click the phone number to call your clinic. It’s essential to make sure all phone numbers on your website are clickable, so people can easily call your number with a simple tap.

In terms of information organisation for navigation, the basic rule of thumb is to have important information a maximum of 2 clicks deep. i.e. the user has to click a maximum of two times to find what they are looking for.

Tip #4 - Put Your Most Important Content 'Above the Fold'

When a new visitor hits your website, you don’t have much time to make a great first impression. And the best way to do this is to make sure you are effectively utilising the space “above the fold” on the homepage of your website. “Above the fold” refers to the area at the top of your homepage before a user has to scroll.

Every medical website design is different, but we recommend including the following elements above the fold:

  • Practice name and location
  • Book Online button
  • Phone number (clickable)
  • Address (physical location or service areas)
  • Value statement/slogan/short description of what you offer: e.g. “GP Clinic servicing the Bathurst Community for 25 years”

Tip #5 - Design is Important!

Along with being easy to navigate, your website also needs to look good. This might seem like an obvious statement, but many people underestimate the impact of an attractive and professional design.

Yes, quality content is crucially important, but visitors to your Practice website are absolutely influenced by the design. They might not even realise it consciously, but we see it time and again, great looking websites that also do the fundamentals well, consistently outperform other less attractive websites.

The trick is, the website must not sacrifice usability for style. And therein lies the challenge of great medical website design – the perfect mix of looks and usability is the holy grail we are always looking for.

Tip #6 - The Need for Speed

How fast your website loads will have a great impact on how successful your site is. No one wants to wait around for a slow website to load, and this year Google has released an update that will punish slow loading websites. Knowing how to make your website fast is a skill that requires expert knowledge, however there are some basic guidelines that will help you avoid slow loading times:

  • Make sure you optimise your photos for their size they will be displayed at – photos on websites should be compressed in size and, where possible, are no larger than 100kb –  taking into consideration how many images are displayed on any given web page.
  • Use video carefully. Video is a great thing to have on your website, but it needs to be implemented to minimise slowing down your web page. A way of doing this is integrating via a hosting platform such as YouTube or Vimeo.
  • Make sure your hosting is up to scratch. You can do everything right, but your efforts will be wasted if your web hosting is too slow (see next point for more details).

Tip #7 - Get a Host with the Most

Once you have your beautiful new website ready to go live, you will need to find somewhere to host it. We cannot make this point strongly enough – DO NOT skimp on web hosting. There are some very cheap options out there, and unfortunately most very cheap options are cheap for a reason (they are lacking in many aspects).

Finding the best web hosting provider comes down to 3 things; speed, security and support. And if one of these is lacking, then you can run into problems quickly. Most agencies (including Healthsite) offer hosting and support packages. It’s vital that you have support because the website will require updates every month. Website maintenance is widely misunderstood, websites need to be backed up, updated, and managed, so they are protected against security issues, or performance problems.

Tip #8 - Don't Be Content with Bad Content

Well-designed and engaging content is crucial to strong medical website design. It drives brand awareness, demand and revenue when it’s done right; everything an ideal website would strive for.

Creating engaging content requires you to understand the needs of your patients, which can be generated with thorough research, proven medical information and statistics and searching for relevant keywords and key phrases.

Some basic guidelines for developing content include:

  • Make sure your content is well-organised and informative. Add FAQs if you think it will help the user.
  • Write for a wide audience and try to avoid using terminology that the average website visitor might not understand. Using clear and simple language is always desirable.
  • Break your text into smaller, easy to read chunks. This makes it easier to skim information quickly and allows the reader to find what’s important to them.
  • Include images with your text. Images can also help to break up large blocks of text as people scan your content to determine subconsciously its readability and will help with SEO
  • Include information about your doctors, AND photos of the doctors. We know how hard it can be to make this happen, but it is really important. The photos don’t have to be amazing, but including photos of smiling doctors puts a welcoming face and an authenticity to your Practice.
  • Take interior and exterior photos of your Practice, and ‘action’ shots to incorporate into your website, alongside the use of stock photos. It helps with authenticity and connection to visitors.

Tip #9 - Choose a Domain Name That is Unique and Brandable

Ideally, your domain name should reflect the product and services you offer. Choosing the right domain name is crucial for Practice growth. Try and avoid acronyms if you can. Domain names like www.tgpmc.com.au might seem like a good idea, but you are far better off choosing something that is easily recalled, includes your business name and your location if at all possible. 

For example, if you have a skin clinic in Dubbo, then a good domain name would be: www.dubboskinclinic.com.au as opposed to something like www.dsc.com.au.

Tip #10 - Be SEO Ready

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is both a science and an art. It’s an ongoing process of research, analysis and educated experimentation in telling search engines what kind of searches you want to show up for. You can have the most beautiful website in the world – but if no one can find you, it may as well not exist.

It’s unrealistic to expect great SEO results in the first few weeks of your website. This is because search engines like Google need to first ‘index’ your web page, which is the process of organising all the information contained on it. This needs to happen before any other metrics are assessed, and it takes time.

SEO is something that you may want to consider undertaking seriously after your site is launched. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start, by building your website with SEO in mind from the outset. Some basic guidelines include:

  • Write good content and organise it logically
  • Ensure your content is well laid out, with images and headings breaking up text
  • Delete old pages before you go live
  • Make sure your site can be indexed
  • Add page meta descriptions
  • If you are updating your existing website, make sure you redirect old URLs. If you don’t, people will see the ‘page not found’ error or similar – which should be avoided when possible.

Wrapping Up - Consider Hiring an Agency for Your First Practice Website

These days, medical website design can be done by just about anyone. But doing it well, with all its nuances, subtleties, and performance functionality requirements, you will get a far superior result if you hire professionals to build it for you.

Seriously consider hiring a professional or agency that has experience in medical or other healthcare-associated industries. Ideally, they’ll know the AHPRA guidelines and have wide-ranging healthcare industry experience.

Look for agencies that offer ongoing website support and are open to responding quickly to website changes. E.g. adding notices for modifications to Practice entry or booking procedures during the pandemic.

Make sure the agency you choose has proven SEO expertise and builds the website accordingly and choose one that has a broad range of skills to future-proof your web presence, which can be the difference between success and failure.

Finally, ask what else they offer that can help you. Most agencies have a range of complementary services that can help promote and expose your business to a broader audience.

This article was contributed by Best Practice Software partner Healthsite. 

For more information on the services they provide, you can visit their Bp Partner Network profile here, or visit the Healthsite website.