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6 Glaring Photography Mistakes We See on Hospital and Practice Websites

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Photography camera lensesLet’s face it: doctors aren’t web designers. You certainly have a say on what goes into your website—but designers spend years learning about user experience, and cultivating an eye for design. Although you have access to medical stock photos and an advanced camera phone (we're assuming), it can be tough to choose the photography for your website without professional experience.

Like it or not, prospective patients may click away from your website if you don't have a solid design. And quality photography is a huge part of that. That said, here are the 6 glaring photography mistakes we see on hospital and medical practice websites.

Blurry, off-center, or otherwise unprofessional photos

We’ve seen too many practices (and even larger health centers or hospitals) with blurry, off-center, out of focus, or poorly composed website photos. Photography is an art like any other. The best thing you can do is hire a professional photographer to take photos for your website and brochures.

However, if you simply cannot afford to have professional photos taken of your building or staff, there are some things you must keep in mind. Take time to ensure the quality of your photos. It's one of the simplest things you can do to keep people on your website.

Take a quick online course from a site like Udemy or Lynda.com—even YouTube. Some basic knowledge can prevent a blurry or off-center photo from turning people away from your site.

Images that are a bit too..."clinical"

Doctors and medical staff are used to seeing images that are clinical in nature. They're not squeamish about, say, close-ups of screws for dental implants or even a simple medical stock photo that depicts surgery (and surgical tools).

But 95% of prospective patients are going to be turned off by this imagery. They don't want to picture the screw inside their mouth—especially before they've even called for an appointment. And they certainly don't want to think about surgery before they know whether they need it! 

The same can be said for some before-and-after photos. Bear in mind that squeamish patients can have a gut reaction to an overly-graphic image. Patients are much more interested in the "after"—knowing they can go on to live normal, productive, happy lives after an appointment with you!

Medical stock photos or images that don’t represent the patient

Contrary to popular belief, stock photos are okay to use! However, the images you use on your website should represent the patient. If you use images of sterile instruments, hospital gowns, or other medical stock photos, you could alienate potential patients.

People respond to images that represent them. Your home page should have images of people who look like your standard demographic. They may be experiencing the pain point you treat. More often, you can highlight the benefit to the patient. For example, dentists can have images of people with brilliant, white smiles. If you treat arthritis pain, you might show people enjoying everyday activities.

Automatic image sliders and carousels (sometimes)

Automatic image sliders are a trend in design you've probably seen before. The rotating carousel header is often a compromise between different departments or service lines that want representation on the home page. Photos rotate continuously, so a prospective patient can see many of the things you have to offer.

But the research shows there is no benefit to this design choice—and it could prove problematic. People are not as patient as we’d like to think. The average time someone stays on your page is just a couple of seconds, so they're unlikely to see the full carousel.

If someone sticks around for the complete animation, they may feel disappointed when their exact ailment is not represented. Even for larger hospitals, our designers feel it’s much better to have one image that represents your organization. 

Photos obtained without legal consent

You may know this already, but it bears repeating. Never use an image you find on Google—unless you are 100% certain it uses a Creative Commons license. Pay the extra money for a stock photo and save yourself the legal fees.

If you take images of your building or clinic for the website, social media, or a brochure, make sure there are no patients in the background. Even if a patient gives you permission verbally to use their image, you should always have it in writing.

We're not lawyers, so be sure to consult one first. Photos of a real patient are always ideal for a testimonial, but you put yourself at risk of a major HIPAA violation without the proper protections in place. Remember, it’s okay to use stock photos, as long as you don’t use any misleading language about the person in the picture.

Few or no photos

Nobody wants to read a wall of text about the illnesses you treat. Most of all, patients want to know that you are caring and devoted to helping patients. And a great way to accomplish this is through imagery.

The worst thing you could do is have no visuals at all. Visuals help to break up content and make it easier to read and comprehend.

Remember, medical stock photos are okay! It’s certainly better to have a stock photo on your website than no photos at all.

Photos can be an excellent way to represent yourself to prospective patients. Take the time to get quality images on your website to enhance your overall design.

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