By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
[Series installment.] Take a fresh and unbiased look at your hospital website. Now compare it, as objectively as possible, with others around the country. About a half-a-zillion would be a generous sample slice, but you will only need a few. If you’re keeping score—and even with a much smaller sampling—the back of your napkin tabulation is probably breaks out to something like this:
- About one-third are “Good-to-Great,” as hospital websites go;
- Another third fall into a “adequate-to-mediocre” group; and
- The final third are either outdated or just plain poor.
To be fair, healthcare website design isn’t easy. It’s a difficult and complicated task. And the hospital marketing people who had a hand in the creation of the less-than-great websites were probably struggling against with these common headwinds:
- Competing interests; everyone wants their service line, feature or benefit to be upfront.
- Limited resources; there’s never enough budget to do it right, and even less to do it over.
- Too many cooks; every “design by committee” project is invariably deadly.
- SEO is a mystery; Search Engine Optimization can’t easily be seen and often an afterthought.
[bctt tweet=” Common pitfalls of a hospital website are painful.” username=”hcsuccess”]
Common mistakes, and what to do instead…
If you drill a little deeper in your impartial assessment, some of the common pitfalls become obvious:
Visual clutter, clutter and more clutter. Every hospital has many faces, and site visitors are greeted by a bewildering blast of everyone and everything. Instead: Good graphic design will consider priorities, previous visitor patterns, and user data. Professional design, layout and navigation techniques, as well as the appropriate use of landing pages, enhances the user experience.
Contact information is missing or hidden. Online visitors tend to look first for health or medical information and basic contact info; Name, Address, Phone (NAP) at a minimum. Instead: Make CONTACT details prominent, obvious and a primary navigation link on every page. Incorporate maps, photos, directions and landmarks as additional help on a secondary page.
Doctor pictures and pages are small or bland. People like doing business with people they know and like. Minimalist physician profiles fail to inform or to engage visitors. Instead: Devote enough website real estate to spotlight each doctor. Provide a professional photo, and information—written in easily understandable lay terms—that is persuasive and inspires confidence in the provider.
The website never changes. Internet users are experienced users and they recognize sites that appear dated. Hospital website pages that are static or visually boring also fail to capture the reader’s interest. Instead: Fresh, authoritative content, and variety in appearance, creates an engaging and confident visitor experience.
An effective hospital website, and the vital role that it plays in the overall marketing effort, is a foundation element in your Internet presence. When a hospital website needs to be designed or redesigned, our best advice is to have it written and designed by experienced professionals. Please give us a call; we can help with that.
To begin, there’s a free website audit available here. And for further reading, click through to Website Design Mistakes That Sabotage Healthcare Marketing.