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Two Cans and a String Will Destroy Your Leading-Edge Reputation

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

two cans and stringWebsites show their age quickly in our digital world. A healthcare website that is three or more years old is probably doing more harm than good and it needs a fresh start. Here’s how an old site works against you and what to do about it.

This came up again the other day where a particular practice was limping along with their aged website. After several years, it needed to change, but the leading doctor had to convince the partners in the practice. Simply seeing the tired site is obvious evidence. But the most convincing argument was how the old-fashioned website undercut the practice reputation.

In everything else, the partners and the practice are justifiably proud about being leading-edge this, and state-of-the-art that. In this case, we helped the senior partner present the persuasive and convincing story that, “if you have a leading-edge practice, why are you settling for a website that is the digital equivalent of two cans connected with a string?”

How to spot an out-of-date website and reputation decay…

Technology, “Internet smarts,” and subjective graphic appeal have been constantly pushing online capabilities and user expectations higher. Hospitals, medical practices and providers don’t always appreciate how:

  • A once-productive site is gradually returning less (or no) revenue, and worse,
  • Patients easily recognize a negative website that works against a positive reputation

The trouble is, Internet users—that’s virtually everyone—are sophisticated, and website decay will not go unnoticed. Here are seven red-flag signals that your website is over the hill and needs an overhaul:

Slow-to-load is only three seconds. High-speed everything online creates immediate expectations. When a site or page doesn’t respond in a couple seconds, the would-be visitor has gone to a competitor, and your page rankings are sinking.

It’s got to be mobile-responsive. Google’s rules assume that better than 50 percent of searches occur on a smartphone or tablet. Out-of-date sites accommodate a desktop screen and don’t detect the smaller format.

Forget about Flash. Not long ago, web designers loved Flash software largely for the multimedia appearance of web pages. It turns out that Flash was slow to load and unfriendly with search engines. Legacy sites that were built with Flash software were pretty, but bad for business.

Your pages are missing or broken. Everyone has seen the universal “404” code, the universal signal that the site can’t present the page requested. It’s a signal for programmers to fix something. It’s also a marker that frustrates a site visitor, who by now, is already out the exit.

Nothing has been added or refreshed in years. Check the copyright date on your site. Do you have a regular system to update, improve or add new content? Google is likely to think that a static site is a near-to-dead site.

Do you frequently get common questions on the phone? Talking with a prospective patient on the phone is a wonderful business opportunity. But repeated, common questions—that could be answered via the website—is a signal that the site isn’t as useful as it could be to visitors.

An out-of-date site screams an out-of-date practice. It may seem completely unfair to make this judgment, but about three out of four people judge business credibility based largely on the website design. [Stanford Web Credibility Project] If a dated site isn’t believable, the reputation of the doctors and the practice name are called into question.

Here’s an important bonus test…

If the website is pulling down your reputation, you can bet that your Return-on-Investment is also sinking. A functioning, up-to-date website is a strong marketing tool. In healthcare, it is the starting point for a patient journey to your front door.

Consequently, if your website is not capturing visitor interest, or if it isn’t producing a measurable ROI, it’s time for an overhaul. A website that is three or more years old is about a hundred years in digital speed.

By the way, the two cans and a string gizmo—AKA the string telephone—was invented about the mid-1800’s. That’s an interesting bit of trivia, but it’s no support for your leading-edge reputation.

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