Episode 003 – The Anatomy of a Great Practice Website
On this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, hosts Garrett Smith and Don Lee present the anatomy of a great practice website. From design and layout to features and functionality, Garrett and Don tell you exactly what your practice website needs in order to stand out amongst competitors and meet the expectations of your internet savvy patients. For more information about this episode, and the complete show notes, please continue reading below.
“What You Will Learn”
On this episode of the practice marketing podcast you will learn:
- What every practice website must have
- Why a custom website isn’t such a great thing
- How your website can position you as an authority in your specialty
Segment #1 – What Should Every Website Have?
Your website should be the hub of your internet marketing activity. It’s one of the first touch points and (only) channel you can fully control. Every practice website should have the following elements:
- Locations, hours of operation, contact information,
- Service / treatment information,
- Payment Methods / Insurances accepted
- Patient reviews, and
- Ability to schedule an appointment
In addition to this, make sure that your website is fast, optimized for all screens, and is secured. Remember, you don’t want to make patient’s work hard to take a decision to make an appointment with you.
Ensuring your website is presenting the basic information about your practice creates the beginning of a great experience for the patient.
Segment #2 – Why a Custom Website Isn’t Such a Great Thing
Many practices waste their money and time with “custom websites” when the reality is that a simple, easy to use website is the best route to go.
- Expensive to maintain on an ongoing basis (could spend thousands a month maintaining it)
- Custom design often leads to a website that’s hard to use, something that will turn a patient off
Remember, you’re a doctor, not a designer (or your patient). The reality is that the photography, video, and written copy are what really make a great website.
Your practice should avoid a custom website unless you have the time, and resource to maintain it. Even then, for 95% of practices, it’s not a good idea.
Segment #3 – How Your Website Can Position You as an Authority
Your website provides an opportunity for you to create your own digital health library to help educate your patient community.
- Good content to have include articles on conditions, services, and treatments
- Content builds your authority. Gives patients a look into your expertise and experience.
- When done properly this content can become highly visible in search engines, and shared on social media, driving more awareness for your practice.
- Use it in conjunction with email marketing to keep your practice top of mind with existing patients.
Your practice website gives you a platform to build your authority through educational and informative content centered around how you and your practice help patients.
Full Episode Transcript
Garrett Smith: 00:00 Hey, everyone. Garrett here. For more information about The Anatomy Of A Great Practice Website, check out Chapter 3 in Book Now, Internet Marketing For Healthcare Practices. Available at Healthcaremarketingbook.com
Don Lee: 00:12 Hey, Garrett. I’ve been working on the web for like 20 years now, and I’ve seen thousands of websites across all different industries. And I got to tell you, when I look at provider and practice websites out there today, to put it nicely, they really leave a lot to be desired. Why is that?
Garrett Smith: 00:31 On this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, you will learn what every practice website must have. Why a custom website isn’t such a great thing and how your website can position you as an authority in your specialty.
Speaker 3: 00:46 Are you looking to take your practice to the next level? Well, you’re in the right place. Welcome to The Practice Marketing Podcast with your host Garrett Smith and Don Lee.
Garrett Smith: 00:58 Hey there, welcome back to The Practice Marketing Podcast. This is Episode Number 3, The Anatomy Of A Great Practice Website. Here with you again is, uh, myself, Garrett Smith. Uh, I also have with me my co-host, Don Lee. And we’re excited to talk a little bit more about how you can ensure that your practice has a great website.
Don Lee: 01:17 Yeah, Garrett. And I open up with that question of the practice websites that are out there that … that, they do. They just … they leave a lot to be desired. And … and when you get to them, it’s not just that they look out of date or they look bad, like they’ve got a bad design. Some of that’s true for sure.
Don Lee: 01:33 But even more importantly is they’re just frustrating. Like you go there and you’re looking for things and you just can’t find what you’re looking for and you’re frustrated.
Don Lee: 01:41 So in your opinion, what is it that I should be able to find on ever practice website out there?
Garrett Smith: 01:48 Yeah, Don. I share your frustration. I look at, uh, practice websites each and every day, and I think first and foremost, the big thing that you have to remember is that, uh, practice websites should always be function over form. And … and a lot of times this concept of design ends up getting in the way of an easy, simple website.
Garrett Smith: 02:09 Overall, when you look at this, your website really should be the hub of your internet marketing activity. It’s one of the first touch points and only channel that you can fully control.
Garrett Smith: 02:19 So getting this right, to me, is crucial in starting patients off down the right path with your practice.
Garrett Smith: 02:25 Now, every practice website should have these following elements in order to satisfy the needs of … of every patient.
Garrett Smith: 02:31 So first and foremost it should have information about your location. Obviously the address, the name of the location, uh, phone information, fax information, your hours of information, any relevant contact information, all of your service and treatment information. And if … if you feel so … you know, price ranges or specific prices for those, depending on your specialty.
Garrett Smith: 02:52 Payment methods and insurances accepted are a big thing that a lot of practice websites are missing. Uh, but it’s information that is crucial in the decision making process for a patient.
Garrett Smith: 03:03 And finally, patient reviews and testimonials or success stories from existing patients that have, uh, been under your care. And also the ability to schedule an appointment. I still see that the majority of patients schedule their appointments via phone. However, there are lots of patients who prefer to fill out a form or directly schedule their appointment right through their website. So that’s an important component.
Garrett Smith: 03:25 Now, outside of this information, a couple of other essential elements to a great practice website go around some technical things. First and foremost, is your website fast? Patients are inpatient these days and, uh, they want things faster than ever before. So, a slow loading website is a painful experience for them.
Garrett Smith: 03:44 Is your website optimized for all screens? Not every patient is sitting at a desktop computer looking to find a provider. They may be using a tablet or a mobile or a laptop. So you want to make sure that your website looks great on all of those screens and functions properly.
Garrett Smith: 03:59 And finally security. You want to make sure that your website is secure, that you’ve upgraded with an SSL security certificate, uh, so in the, uh, top of the browsers patients will see that your website is secured. People are wary these days of giving their information, especially sensitive information up, and if your website’s not secured and a web browser is displaying that, that could turn a potential patient away from, uh, trying to schedule an appointment with you.
Don Lee: 04:23 Sure. And even on Google now a lot of times they’ll actually suggest to you, don’t submit your information to this site because it’s not secure. Like they’re being pretty in your face about it. So if you’re not doing it, people might be getting scared away.
Garrett Smith: 04:35 Yeah. I mean, Google has a duty to … to serve these patient servers in the same way that you do. So certainly they don’t want to show practice websites that are not secure, whether they’re just not secure because no one bothered to do this or because the website was built years ago when this wasn’t as big of a … a deal. However, it is now, and it’s very visible. And I would probably say 20 to 30 percent of the websites I come across on a daily basis that are in the kind of health practice space, don’t have the proper security measures in place, and, uh, I think that they’re probably suffering because of it.
Don Lee: 05:10 Yeah. As far as technical goes, I see that as low hanging fruit, because that’s not a hard thing to take care of at all. And just going back through there, the … the locations, the addresses, the contact information, the hours, like yeah, that’s … that’s exactly what I was talking about.
Don Lee: 05:24 It’s like … I just … as a consumer, as a patient when I go on the website, like that’s why I’m going. Many times I might be on my way to your office and I need to see that, so it’s really important to me.
Garrett Smith: 05:33 Yeah, I’ve … I built well over 100 practice websites with the team here at Inbound MD, and I can tell you that this sort of information typically gets pushed to the back burner. Everyone wants to talk about look, feel and color schemes and all that. And, you know, that has a, uh, role, but at the end of the day, there’s no reason that your practice website can’t follow the same basic layout and look and feel as one two hours away.
Garrett Smith: 06:01 You know, you can change the color schemes, the content, the information to make it look great and different, but this basics are missed by so many people. It’s … it’s really baffling to me.
Don Lee: 06:11 Function over form, I think is a quick way to sum it all up first.
Garrett Smith: 06:17 Pro tip Number 1. Ensuring your website is presenting the basic information about your practice creates the beginning of a great experience for the patient.
Don Lee: 06:29 So at the end of that first segment you touched on something that I think is pretty important is the importance of the design element, right? So we went at it first from a standpoint of what needs to be there? What’s the functionality? What’s the utility of the website? But you just can’t say design doesn’t matter, right?
Don Lee: 06:47 So what is the … Is there value at … for practice to go out and hire a designer and build a beautiful, custom website? What’s the value there?
Garrett Smith: 06:58 Well, Don, my experience has been that practices waste a ton of time and money going down the custom website route. The reality is that quick practice website is simple and easy, not overly designed and developed.
Garrett Smith: 07:13 Now let me talk a little bit to two specific reasons why I think custom websites are a poor decision for a practice. Number 1, a custom designed and developed website is going to be more expensive to maintain on an ongoing basis due to the fact that a lot of times custom designed websites are what’s called on trend, and trends change pretty quickly.
Garrett Smith: 07:36 Number 2, custom design often leads to a website that can be hard to use. The reason for that is, when you bring in a designer and you start having design sessions and you start giving your input, oftentimes you make decisions based on the aesthetic not the function. And you can end up turning away patients because the website looks great but is very difficult to use. I.e., it’s hard to find that basic information that we talked about in Segment 1.
Garrett Smith: 08:09 So, when I’m working in this space with a doctor or a physician or a practice manager, I like to let them know two things. Remember you’re a doctor, not a designer, and you’re also not your patient. So your personal preferences and tastes may not be the same as your patient base. And really, if you’re looking to have a great website, a great aesthetic, it’s more about the photography you use, the videos you include and the written copy than it is necessarily the layout or what people would consider to be design.
Garrett Smith: 08:42 So obviously, I’m slightly biased in that we don’t do custom website design. We’ve built a platform based on years of experience working with patients and practices that follows all of the best practices of modern website design and development but doesn’t allow you to get into some of those harmful pitfalls that come with a fully custom website.
Don Lee: 09:07 Got it. So basically you’re talking about like you’re going to pick from a set of templates that are already designed and don’t require a designer and then they’re going to populate the templates with all of that important information that we discussed in Segment Number 1. And that’s the difference, right? So what’s the trade off? Are they losing anything by going with the template design versus a custom design or is it … is there really just nothing there?
Garrett Smith: 09:31 In reality they’re not losing anything say for probably an ego stroke with having a custom designed website. But I think that’s a very expensive ego stroke both in upfront investment and the potential to lose patients because this website looks great but is not functional.
Garrett Smith: 09:49 Again, most practices that use a basic best practice kind of layout look and feel for a website don’t need to differentiate their practice based on website design. They can differentiate it in … in other areas. And also the reality is, is that a dermatologist, uh, in one city is not going to be exposed to patients necessarily in another. So if they both have a similar design, look and feel, patients are never going to know.
Don Lee: 10:18 Yeah. No. I’d say like there’s so much to do in this whole space and, you know, all these different topics we’re talking about throughout the course of the podcast, if this one’s a … you know, if there’s kind of an easy button on one of these items, like this sounds like it might be one of the potentially few easy buttons you get to hit in this process, I think it makes a lot of sense to take that and move on.
Garrett Smith: 10:37 Yeah. I also would say that people end up spending the most time on website design and development, and it’s actually misused, because once you have a website, the hard job starts of promoting it. And so if you spend all your time and energy and resource on just creating the website, you’re going to have a tough slog once that is live on the internet because you’re not going to have enough budget, time, resource, maybe even passion anymore to go out there and promote it and really get it in front of a large volume of patients.
Don Lee: 11:08 Yeah, that passion one is even a good point too, because as a … a long time software developer myself, I can tell you firsthand like those types of projects, they can take a lot out of you. They take a lot of ya on the client side and on the developer side. So that’s a … that’s an important little … subtle but important point.
Garrett Smith: 11:26 Pro tip Number 2. Your practice should avoid a custom website unless you have the time and resource to maintain it. Even then, for 95 percent of practices, it’s not a good ideal.
Don Lee: 11:41 All right, Garrett. So we’ve got a functional website now. It’s got all of the important information, our name, our address, our contact information, our services, all the things that people are likely to be asking about when they come to the website, and it looks pretty darn good too, right?
Don Lee: 11:57 We’re not saying design doesn’t matter. We are saying that a custom, one-of-a-kind unique design is not necessary in this case. But we do … So … but we have a good looking website, works on mobile. It’s fast, it’s responsive, it answers the questions.
Don Lee: 12:13 So where else can we go with this? What can we do with our website to go above and beyond just providing this basic information to establish ourselves as an authority, as being a very good practice for you to come and get your care?
Garrett Smith: 12:28 So we talked a little bit about your website as … as the hub of all your internet marketing efforts. And really, a lot of those internet marketing efforts are going to center around you going out there and promoting your own digital health library.
Garrett Smith: 12:43 And so what a digital health library is to us is a collection of content, whether that be written content, interviews, videos, even podcasts like this, that help educate your patient community. And so this digital health library is typically composed of articles about conditions and services and treatments that you provide at the practice. And over time this content really builds your authority and gives patients the ability to look into your expertise and your experience beyond just a stale kind of bio or CV.
Garrett Smith: 13:17 And when you do this properly, this content can become highly visible in search engines and even shared on social media, which is going to drive a ton of awareness for your practice. At the end of the day you can also use this content in conjunction with e-mail to educate existing patients and keep you top of mind, which will help you drive referrals.
Don Lee: 13:38 Makes sense, Garrett. But now this is starting to sound like a much more involved process, right? Definitely there’s no apparent easy button to me here. So, is this something that the practice and its staff and its physicians, like are we expecting them to sit down and write this content all the time, or is there a way for them to outsource it or go and, you know, buy existing content, things like that?
Garrett Smith: 14:00 It’s really based on the time and budgetary resources at the practice, Don. I’ve seen it go both ways. There are providers out there, practice managers who enjoy writing. They enjoy being on camera. They don’t mind being the superstar, so to speak. And as a result they create a lot of content and oftentimes work with an outside party just for editing and sort of smart hands work to get that content published and pushed out on the internet.
Garrett Smith: 14:28 You can also go the other way and work with a ghost writer and find someone who can work with you to develop a little bit of a brand voice for you. And also then create the content on your behalf. And you can act sort of as the subject matter expert to proof those pieces of content and then, you know, work with them to get it published under your name and … and out and on … on your behalf.
Garrett Smith: 14:50 And I would say that it’s really kind of … you know, I would say maybe … maybe 60/40. So about 60 percent the practices that we see are actually just using a ghost writer or outsourcing this to an agency. The other 40 percent, you know, is writing the content themselves and really just working with an outside party for basic editing, grammar, spelling, that sort of thing.
Garrett Smith: 15:09 And so really, it’s a personal thing. My take on it or what I always encourage, is I always encourage everyone to participate. I think that content that comes from the provider, the practice, the folks who are in the organization is more insightful and more authentic than somebody producing it from outside of your organization. However, we can’t always get what we want. And as a result, I think you can still get a great return, drive awareness, educate your patients, even if you’re not the one directly typing on the keyboard.
Don Lee: 15:36 Yeah. I think that makes a lot of sense. As someone who’s created a lot of content, like written content, podcast and everything else, the one thing that I’ve learned is that you become very attuned to the things that the audience you’re trying to serve is going to care about, right? So if you’re think about … that even if you’re not writing the content, but you’re thinking about it on a regular basis as a physician, you’re going to be more attuned to what are the things that I see or know or think of on my day to day practice that my patients care about. And it’s just going to … basically it’s going to tune you into your patients a little bit more very naturally.
Garrett Smith: 16:07 Absolutely. One of the exercises that we go through at the beginning of an engagement is we ask providers and the practice manager to list all of the frequently asked questions by patients that they tell them about all the time but don’t have documented anywhere.
Don Lee: 16:20 Uh-huh (Affirmative).
Garrett Smith: 16:20 And that becomes, you know, a bit of a repository of content. So not only is this great content for the web, but this is also information that they can print out and share with patients just to answer everyday conversational type questions that maybe they don’t have the time to go into specific detail on, but if they point them to a link or give them a sheet, the patient can kind of educate themselves after the visit.
Don Lee: 16:43 Nice. And so that can serve as the list of content that you’re handing off to a ghost writer too, right? So just to … to kind of bring that full circle. If I’m a practice and I want to hire a ghost writer, as the process, I’m kind of deciding what are the things that I think are important to my practice, handing that off, and then someone else is going to do the research, the writing, and give it back to me and I just proof it and post it kind of deal, right?
Garrett Smith: 17:03 At a high level that’s very safe. I would say in practice there’s a lot more nuance.
Don Lee: 17:08 Uh-huh (Affirmative).
Garrett Smith: 17:08 You know, I’m not sure how many doctors and practice managers are in a great position to put together a full content strategy. Um, I don’t know how experienced they are with … with that. However, if they do have experience or they’re … they’re confident that, uh, they understand their patients at a level that they know what information they’re looking for, certainly that’s a great way to get started, because I assume that you get inundated with dozens and dozens of questions on a weekly basis, but they’re not all that unique.
Don Lee: 17:35 Got you. So they might be even looking for a firm that specializes in producing this kind of content for a practice like theirs, and they can help them with that content strategy as well.
Garrett Smith: 17:44 Yeah. You can do it DIY or ala carte. When it comes to executing on any of your marketing, all of those options are available.
Don Lee: 17:51 Got it.
Garrett Smith: 17:55 Pro tip Number 3. Your practice website gives you a platform to build your authority through educational and informative content centered around how you and your practice help patients.
Don Lee: 18:10 Awesome. Thank you for all that, Garrett. It’s really insightful and good conversation today. Why don’t you tell the audience where we’re heading next.
Garrett Smith: 18:15 On the next episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, we will discuss how to improve your practice’s search visibility.
Garrett Smith: 18:21 Until next time, I hope you’re practicing great medicine and great marketing. Thank you.
Speaker 3: 18:28 Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast with Garrett Smith and Don Lee. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please leave a review and subscribe. And for more great content and to stay up to date, visit InboundMD.com/podcast. We’ll catch you next time.
Garrett Smith: 18:45 Hey, everyone. Garrett here. For more information about The Anatomy Of A Great Practice Website, check out Chapter 3 in Book Now, Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices. Available at Healthcaremarketingbook.com.