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7 Signs Your Healthcare Website Didn't Show Up for Work Today

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

website design mistakesA first-time visitor to your healthcare website knows very little about you. And what they find—or don't find—will be their "first impression" of you and your brand.

The problem is that many are either out of date or out of touch, and the patient experience never has a chance. The first impression is also the last impression. To make things worse, the well-intended provider is often not aware of the problem.

Sadly, this problem includes medical and dental practices as well as hospitals and healthcare businesses of nearly every discipline. Fortunately, there are ways to diagnose the issue and prescribe remedies that work.

Here are seven symptoms that your healthcare website is not reaching its potential. Or worse, your website is so lack-luster that visitors quickly leave...and connect with a competitor.

You didn't look at your website today. Make it a habit to look at your website daily and consider what the prospective patient is seeing and experiencing. In addition to the appearance, content value and message, does the site function properly? Are there any broken links, missing images or other mechanical problems? Flawless mechanics will go unnoticed, but even simple problems are a quick turnoff.

Your website is not mobile or tablet friendly. The number of smartphones and computer tablets is already into the millions of units and still climbing. (The number of tablet owners doubled in a single month, propelled by the holiday season, according to a recent Pew study.) Increasingly, the online public will access your website via these "small screen" devices. If your website is more than a year old-and/or is unfriendly to the mobile visitor-your prospective audience is rapidly going elsewhere.

Your website is a one-trick pony. A stand-alone website is easily overlooked in today's multi-faceted digital age. Your website might be the cornerstone of an online presence, but being truly effective requires multiple tools. Some combination of Facebook, Twitter, blog, LinkedIn and other options are needed to reach, engage and convert visitors.

Your website is all about you. The harsh reality is that your website visitors are self-centered. Sorry, but nobody cares what you do. They only care about what you can do for them. It's easy to fall into the trap of talking about what you do-that's feature-driven content. Take the next step to benefit-driven content, and your website becomes all about them.

Your website hasn't changed in weeks, months...or ever. This problem has several cutting edges. First, "antique information" is a big red flag-and major turn-off-for site visitors. Even non-clinical pages, such as a two-year old practice newsletter, says this website is being neglected. Visitor confidence goes out the window.

Secondly, search engines (such as Google) like to see site changes and updates, and it helps produce a higher search results position. Stale or stagnant sites that never change tend to sink lower (and attract fewer visitors.)

And further, website design and technology advances with the speed of light. In no time at all, the graphic appearance, functionality and performance of a website can be sadly out of date and appear primitive to the visitor.

There's no video on your website. For many years the availability of online video was constrained by bandwidth, broadband access and other issues that have largely disappeared. Video is engaging and many people absorb audio/visual information more rapidly. Visitors expect to find video content, and it is the preferred means to communicate certain types of material. What's more, using video helps with Search Engine visibility.

Your website content is a monochrome monologue. Increasingly prospective patients have evolved from passively using the Internet as an electronic directory, to being informed health and healthcare consumers who are proactively seeking a working relationship with medical providers. The "e" in "e-patient" is understood to mean they are "empowered, engaged, equipped, enabled."

A healthcare website that is little more than digital "brochure-ware" is old school. Highly effective websites will complete the communications cycle with content that is interesting, up-to-date and involving. It establishes trust with the visitor, it inspires a conversation, and provides them with the means to maintain a dialog and build a continuing relationship.

The medical marketing mission of healthcare providers and hospitals can't begin to generate a Return-on-Investment when the website fails to attract, retain and convert visitors. And your healthcare marketing never has a second chance to make a first impression.

For more on this topic, see our previous articles in this series: 7 Mistakes Doctors and Healthcare Organizations Make When Getting Their Website Done andSearch Engine Optimization Strategies for Doctors Who are Tired of Being the "Invisible Man" (or Woman) Online.

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