If you’re planning to build a new website (or redesign an existing one) for your oph- thalmology practice, you need to begin by understanding a somewhat inconvenient truth: most websites don’t work.
That’s the assertion of Hubspot (the inbound marketing software giant) in their article “10 Deadly Reasons Most Websites Fail.” To add some data to that assertion, Hub- spot submitted more than a million websites to an automated website grading tool, measuring the effectiveness of each in four key categories. The average score for mobile optimization was a D, for SEO, a D-; for Performance, a D-, and for Security, an F.
The overall average score was a 59—in other words, an F.
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If that data seems a little obscure, consider your own online experience. How many websites you’ve visited didn’t work on your smartphone or tablet? How many looked exactly like hundreds of other sites you’ve seen? How many focused more on the company than on you, the consumer? How many made it hard to find the informa- tion you were looking for?
The Secret to Smart Website Design
Actually, there are two secrets:
- The first secret to good web design is to have a clear set of goals: what, in other words, do you want your website to do for your practice? For example, do you want to attract site visitors and convert them into new patients, or help current patients schedule appointments online? Do you want the ability to make changes on your site yourself, without the help of a web de- signer? Do you want the ability to see metrics on visitors and visitor behavior on your site?
- The second is to match the design of your website to those goals.
How to Grow Your Practice with Smart Website Design
If one of the goals of your website is to grow your ophthalmology practice, the first thing you should realize is this: prospective patients need to find it. When they do find your practice, you need to 1) differentiate yourself from other practices, 2) provide site visitors with helpful information, 3) make it easy for them to navigate to the informa- tion they want, and 4) continually update your site with fresh content so repeat visitors view your practice as thriving and growing.
Ready to jump in? Here are 5 steps you should take if you want to grow your ophthalmology practice:
1. Website Optimization
According to Forrester Research, the majority of consumers (54%) find websites by typing keywords into search engines, like “ophthalmologists new york.” When your website achieves high (preferably first page) search engine results, the chances prospective patients will find it and click through to your website increase dramatically.
To achieve this goal, you need to be utilizing Search Engine Optimization. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process by which certain features of your site – like headers, descriptions, and keywords are created to conform to the algorithms search engines use to determine where they’ll rank your site, making your site “search engine-friendly.”
The challenge for web designers is that those algorithms are continually changing. For example, Google recently decided to reward those websites that have a mo- bile-ready version, in essence “demoting” those website that did now. In this algorithm change, if the mobile version of your site doesn’t work properly, your site could drop in search engine results.
2. Integration with Social Media Sites
To connect with prospective patients, you need to meet them where they live – and in today’s society, that means an increasing number “live” on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Ten years ago, a mere 12% of young adults were daily active users on Facebook. Today, that number is more than 90% (he percentage of adults 65 and older on Facebook grew from 2% to 35% during the same period).
Equally important, about 3 in 4 of Facebook’s 1.23 billion active daily users go there “for professional purposes.”
Given the dramatic growth in social media usage for business purposes, it’s not surprising that social media sites are second only to organic search as a source for website visitors. The challenge for your practice is to find prospective patients on social media and direct them to your ophthalmic practice website.
The good news is that social media sites provide tools to help you do that. One such example is Facebook’s Audience Insights tool, which can help you identifies your target audience based on demographics, geography, purchase history, and more. Once you’ve identified prospective patients, you can craft useful messages to share useful information that link back to your site.
3. Responsive Design
Internet users spend about 2 of every 3 minutes on smartphones and tablets, and about 40% of their searches are for business purposes. Responsive design will make your website mobile-friendly, ensuring that your website works as well on mobile de- vices as on desktops and laptops. With responsive design, your site will automatically conform to the dimensions of mobile devices, be easy to navigate and make content easy to access.
Not only does responsive design help with your site’s rank in Google (as mentioned above), but it helps users find the information they’re looking for. Responsive design is here to stay, and as more consumers become used to the responsive format of websites on their mobile devices, any sites that don’t conform to new standards will get left behind.
4. User-Friendly Content Management
Fresh content is incredibly important both for Search Engine Optimization and for ensuring you provide prospective patients with accurate, up-to-date information. Ideally, you should be able to make these content changes and additions yourself, without having to contact your web designer every time you want add an informative article or resource to your site. A good content management system will let you do that, but it must be nimble, intuitive and easy to use.
5. Robust Analytics
If your goal is to improve your website and help prospective patients find what they’re looking for, what good is it if you don’t have robust analytics on your website to track progress? Your goal here should be the continual improvement of your website’s performance, which means you need to know how well it’s working: how many prospective patients visit each day, how long they stay, and which content they engage with the most.
A Final Thought
While each of these features are critical to achieving optimal performance for your website and beneficial for growing your practice, a human touch is also necessary. Even the best tools and strategies are practically useless unless you have someone on your team who knows how to wield these tools and use them to your advantage.
Working with a design firm who specializes in ophthalmology and understands the nuances of your practice and where you want to take it if an invaluable tool that can help grow your practice exponentially.
To learn more about the ways you can build an ophthalmology website which will help you grow your practice, contact us today.
Crawford Ifland is the Founder and Creative Director of Messenger Medical Marketing. Messenger is a digital marketing agency specializing in custom medical website design, healthcare SEO, practice promotional videos, and more. Messenger helps the nation’s leading physicians and medical device companies grow their businesses through websites, promotional videos, and smart marketing strategies.