Don’t waste business – or, more importantly, the chance to help patients in need – because of poor website design.
This article was originally published on June 5, 2020 on PSQH by Katie Lundin.
If you work in the healthcare industry, you know the importance of cultivating confidence.
Health can be a very personal matter. Healthcare providers make life and death decisions for their patients. And patients make themselves vulnerable (financially with their health insurance and physically with their medical team) with every interaction. The personal stakes cannot be higher. This is why building a base of competence, credibility and reliability is essential for every company in the healthcare sector.
Since your website is your primary online ambassador and a central part of your brand identity, if it doesn’t inspire trust, you will lose customers. Don’t just take my word for it: 75% of people judge a company’s credibility based on its website. And people can judge healthcare companies even more harshly because the potential stakes are so high.
Don’t waste business – or, more importantly, the chance to help patients in need – because of poor website design. Here are eight tips to make your healthcare website design more believable and trustworthy.
Keep your website patient-centric
The patients-people-are the lifeblood of the healthcare industry, so your website should be designed with your patients in mind. If patients or potential patients can’t easily find what they need, your website has failed in its sole purpose and you’ve probably lost a customer.
Avoid healthcare industry jargon
The healthcare industry is complex, as is the language spoken by healthcare professionals. But on your website, it’s important that the language is kept simple and easy to understand for patients and future patients.
To make your website accessible, check all of its copies from a layman’s perspective. Will the average patient understand what you have written? Otherwise, revise your copy until it’s clear, easy to understand, and free from confusing industry terminology.
Make it easy for people to contact you
Many people will come to your website to schedule a visit, get an answer to a question about their insurance, or how to speak with their doctor. But whatever the reason for their visit, they will probably have to call you as their next step. Therefore, make it easier to find your contact details.
Clearly display contact information on each page so patients can easily reach you when they’re ready. This simple act shows your willingness to interact with your patients and shows that you care.
Also, make sure your business name is specific and clear. Many healthcare companies are incorporated under one name but operate under an assumed name. If you do this, you must register a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name with your state and / or local governments. To learn more, find out how to file a DBA in each state and territory of the United States.
Provide clear and simple website navigation
The last thing a patient has to deal with when browsing health issues (and your website) is a confusing layout. Overly minimalist designs that hide all menu options – or oversized sites that get stuck in too many navigation options – are bad choices for a healthcare website.
Avoid hidden navigation in favor of organized menus that clearly address the most common patient needs. The most important pages should be easy to find. Mayo Clinic does a fantastic job on its home page (shown above).
Pro tip: Use Google Analytics to determine which pages on your website are getting the most traffic. Then check that these pages are easily accessible from the navigation menus on your home page. And make sure your mobile browsing is just as clean and straightforward.
Design your website for fast loading speeds
A website that takes too long to load is one that no one will stick around to see.
As we pointed out: Did you know that people start to abandon your website after a few seconds of loading? Between seconds four and five of your website’s load time, 20% of visitors have already left your site. The percentage only increases from there. Not only that, the faster your website loads, the higher it ranks in the search engines and the easier it is to find.
Design with load speeds in mind. You don’t know how? Find out more here.
Make your site accessible
People of all health levels will need to access your website. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 million adults in the United States have some type of disability. That’s just over a quarter of Americans.
Add to that number those who are sick and those who are stressed as a result of injury or illness of a family member, and you can assume that many visitors to your website will experience some kind of disability. It is essential that your website design ensures that these users get what they need.
Accessible web design ensures that everyone who visits your website can navigate it successfully. And it shows that your healthcare business knows and cares about its audience.
Keep in mind the following accessibility tips:
- Use higher contrast ratios to improve visibility
- Avoid designs that rely too much on color – think about color blind users
- Use a consistent navigation scheme for ease of use
- Make sure your website can be accessed using a mouse or keyboard
- Use responsive design to suit whatever type of screen your visitor uses
- Use lots of white space to make your website easy to read
For more detailed advice on web-accessible design, read this UC Berkeley article.
Make sure your website is HIPAA compliant
As you know, in the US healthcare system, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs much of what healthcare companies do.
Many patients today are also aware of HIPAA. If your website is not HIPAA compliant, you run the risk of looking very unprofessional (at a minimum), paying expensive fines, or even going to jail (at a maximum).
What does a HIPAA compliant web design look like? Here are some guidelines to get you started:
- Your website must protect patient data. All files, data storage and data transmissions must be SSL encrypted.
- Electronically Protected Health Information (ePHI) should not appear anywhere on your website. This includes testimonials, case studies, and web copy.
- Does your website encourage new patients to fill out a form to make an appointment? Make sure the data on this form is protected. Even simple contact information (name, email, and phone number) should be encrypted.
You can read more about HIPAA website compliance here.
Create a unique website design that inspires confidence
As we mentioned, patients trust the healthcare industry for their well-being. But it’s hard to give a business confidence if their website is full of typos or poor design.
There is no room for error in your copy, coding, or design. Not paying attention to details like these will drive visitors away.
Also, if your site uses a template and looks like thousands of other healthcare sites, your patients and future patients will not be able to differentiate you from your many competitors. This also goes for the elements of your brand identity, including your company name and logo. Make sure the two are unique.
As we pointed out in our guide to starting a business, a new business depends on its website as an essential ambassador and a crucial part of its marketing and branding strategy. But this is also true for an existing business. It’s too easy for people to assume that a lack of attention to detail on your website means you’ll also be lax with the health care or health insurance duties that are so important to your patients.
When building or updating your website, make sure to:
- Proofread your web copy for grammar, spelling and information errors.
- Hire a professional to design your website. Avoid website builders and generic website templates (even though they’re free).
- Test your website for functional errors. Make sure all links and forms are working as they should.
Look at your website with the same critical eye you would apply to a patient’s chart or insurance documents. No detail is too small. If you can’t find the mistakes, potential patients will.
Website Design Trends
Web design keeps evolving. This constant movement leads to evolution, innovation and sometimes regrettable trends in website design. Still, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for trends, as they often lay the groundwork for new best practices. Here’s a great look at the latest trends in website design.
Health has never been more important. And your healthcare business, whether you provide medical or financial support, plays a vital role in the well-being of patients. Don’t let your important work be held back by poor web design.
Your business needs a strong and professional website to better serve its patients. Follow the tips we have shared and you will make a stronger impression and gain more patients.
Katie Lundin is a Marketing and Branding Specialist at crowd, one of the world’s leading marketplaces for logo design, web design, graphic design, product design and corporate naming services.
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