It can be completely overwhelming to build a website for your private practice. You browse the internet every day but when it comes to making decisions for your private practice’s website, it can be hard to know what your website needs and what is simply not necessary.
You want to ensure that visitors have a positive experience on the website, that you have a solid home base for your online presence and are able to encourage and invite engagement and connection.
All while not forgetting to take into consideration your greater online and offline marketing strategies at work. Your marketing efforts must work together.
Building a website can be a daunting task.
However, there are some basic things that every private practice therapy website needs, things that are worth focusing on and there are also things that the website probably can do without. Here are a few from both categories to help you get started building or evaluating your practice’s website.
What Your Website Needs
1. Well-written copy – Your website copy, the written content, can be the difference between turning website visitors into clients or driving those same people away. Your copy should speak empathetically to your niche and be solutions focused and not focused entirely on you and your credentials.
2. Professional images – Both the photograph of yourself and the images that you use throughout your site should be professional. Visual communication will have an immediate impact on your website visitors. Make a professional impression by using professional images.
3. Your contact information on every page – Make it easy for website visitors to get in touch and put your primary contact information consistently in the header or the footer of every page.
4. Professional design – Your website should feature custom design or use a professionally designed template or theme. Poor design can look spammy, untrustworthy,and cheap which are not qualities any therapist wants.
5. Effortless Navigation – Keep your navigation items easy to understand. Website visitors should be able to move from page to page with clarity, not bumbling around unsure of where to go next or where to find what. Clear navigation with logical naming and hierarchy will help visitors browse your site with ease.
What Your Website Doesn’t Need
1. A busy homepage – Putting a small preview of absolutely everything that is on your entire website onto your homepage is too much. Instead of feeling like they know where to head next, a website visitor will be overwhelmed. Ideally, a home page includes your 1-3 most important calls to action or CTAs, with each CTA its own section with plenty of breathing room to allow the eye to rest on each one.
2. An image slider – Studies show that most website visitors ignore image sliders. Out of those rare people that do notice it, only 1% will actually click on a slide. Sliders are also not optimal for SEO as they slow down your site and are terrible for mobile devices. Private practice therapy websites don’t need sliders because no website needs sliders.
3. Music – Music, especially when it is set to automatically play, is very intrusive. It is unexpected noise pollution – forcing your visitor to listen to something they didn’t sign up for. Music is not essential for demonstrating your solutions anyway, so keep the background music off of your website.
4. Cartoons – If you use a big, yellow frowny face as an icon to show that you “work with grief,” it comes across as a mockery. Instead, use photographic images that feature people spaces, or other symbols that might demonstrate your solution and the empathy you have for your website visitors.
5. Plagiarism – You can’t use content, including words, image, music or anything else, that isn’t yours on your website. I know it’s tempting to just do a google image search and grab and use your favorite result on your website or for your blog posts, but that’s illegal. Even if you cite where you found the image, it’s illegal. Instead, use content with permission or find content that is shared under creative commons.
It’s important to develop your practice’s website strategy to align with the unique needs and approach of your private practice. The website ought to intentionally promote your core services and solutions while eliminating those things that distract from it.
Making sure you reduce distractions will help with clarity. Your website visitors are on your website seeking help. So at the end of the day, it really comes down to answering a single question: how can you help them?
I hope these two lists help you gain clarity with wherever you are in the process of building or maintaining a website for your private practice.
Tablet computer photo available from Shutterstock