“In today’s world, every therapist needs to have a website,” or so everyone says. So, eager to find patients that are a great match for your area of expertise, you sit down at your computer and get to work.
Whether you make the site yourself or bring in a professional to help you, creating a website is no small task. You put a lot of time into making sure your website is as good as it can be. Then you proudly post on Facebook, announcing that your new site is up. You sit back and wait, confident that the hard work you invested will soon pay off.
Except, nothing happens.
Your online forms are left untouched. The phone still doesn’t ring. What on earth went wrong?
The reality is that a few fundamental mistakes can make even an attractive and well built website ineffective. Here are seven of the most common mistakes that I see on therapist websites.
1.Your Website Reads Like a Resume
Many therapists are eager to reassure any potential clients that they are fully qualified, educated, and professional. They feel compelled to prominently display their educational history, degrees, and certifications as the very first thing that website visitors see.
The truth is, most visitors to your site are more interested in hearing about what you do and how you can help rather than what letters you have beside your name. Although those credentials are important in professional circles, many potential patients will find these details confusing and overly formal. Dedicate a brief paragraph on your bio page to your credentials, but don’t make them the main focus of your website.
2. You Spend Too Much Time Talking About Yourself
Although it may be counter-intuitive, your website isn’t actually about you. Your website is about your clients, the challenges they are facing, and the positive impact that you can have on their lives.
The vast majority of the content on your site should be focused on the patient. Talk in-depth about what they are feeling and the problems they are encountering, and help them trust that you really do understand. You can, of course, spend some time talking about yourself, but more time should be spent talking about your patients.
3. Your Site Has an Unprofessional Look and Feel
Think of your website as your storefront. Just like you would hesitate to walk into a store that seemed run down or in bad shape, website visitors will hesitate to contact you for therapy if your site does not inspire confidence and trust.
The majority of visitors to a website will make a snap decision about whether or not they trust that website within just a few seconds of landing on the page. The design and look of the page speaks louder than words, and convey in just an instant, whether or not your site is one that the visitor can trust. If your site looks like it was thrown together, is not maintained, you may be losing clients without even knowing it.
4. You Don’t Have a Photo of Yourself On Your Site
Being camera shy is all right in your personal life, but on your website, a photo is a must. This inclusion is important because people have a very natural and healthy skepticism of the things they see online. They need to have a concrete idea of who you are so that they can feel confident that they can trust the information on your site and move forward in contacting you.
A professional photo is best, but even a nice non-professional photo is better than nothing!
5. You Don’t Include a Telephone Number On Your Site
Many people are hesitant to include a phone number on the website, which is completely understandable. However, there are many people who will not feel comfortable filling out an online form, or even writing an email to ask for help with what they feel is an urgent and deeply private situation.
They want to be able to pick up a phone and hear someone’s voice – at the very least, they want to leave a message and feel confident that they will be called back. Your office phone number should be displayed and should be a clickable link, so that people visiting your site on their mobile devices can easily contact you.
6. Your Site is Not Optimized for Mobile
If your site looks great on a desktop, but is hard to navigate or read on a cell phone, then many people will not be able to interact with your site. Studies suggest that 60 percent of website visitors today are using their mobile devices to interact with websites, and that number is only going to go up.
Even worse, Google may penalize your site if it is not mobile-friendly, making your site harder to find in search results. Your site should be designed to be equally easy to use on desktop, mobile, and mid-sized devices.
7. Your Website is Not Secure
It used to be that only websites that processed credit card information were expected to be secured with an SSL certificate – but times have changed. Nowadays, as security and privacy concerns become more and more important to website visitors, any site that is not properly secured will be much less likely to see positive results.
This is partly because many website browsers (such as Firefox and Chrome) are now warning visitors away from any site that does not have an SSL certificate. This means that a potential visitor to your site may see a warning telling them that your site is not secure and should not be trusted.
Such a warning is likely to scare many potential patients away, and can be easily avoided by securing your site properly, usually at no extra cost to you.
Your therapist website can be a powerful tool, and a rewarding way to connect with clients who might otherwise never have found you. Avoid these mistakes and you will be well on your way to creating a site that will help your therapy practice thrive.
Sarah Gershone is a web designer specializing in the creation of Therapist Websites. Learn more about her business, Strong Roots Web Design at https://strongrootswebdesign.com.