One Site Does Not Fit AllPosted: Jul 27 in Usability tagged Usability best practices by Greg Winget
How to mold your website into the perfect experience for your patients
In the 21st century, our world is increasingly moving into the intangible. Though we may have once bought a present for a friend’s upcoming birthday at the mall across town, we can now visit one of countless online retailers instead. We have little need for the carefully-chronicled, concrete information at the local library, instead opting for the one-click answers that search engines provide. Writing a letter has been made obsolete in the face of email and our increasingly social-media-centric lives.
Many of us, especially the younger generations, are beginning to rely on the internet for our every need—including healthcare. A recent study by market research company Mintel found that more and more patients are seeking information on healthcare and treatment online before consulting a doctor, making your medical website design crucial to bringing in new patients. If visitors to your site don’t find what they need quickly, they’re likely to look somewhere else.
To keep online patients visiting your webpages and your office, you need to offer them an incomparable user experience. Your medical website should embody all the best elements of a great internet experience—visitors should be able to quickly and easily access free, useful information and contact your office for more. Here are some tips for providing your potential patients with the best possible experience on your site.
Tailor to patients’ needs.
Your practice meets a specific need for medical services, and your medical website should reflect that. Patients will only be interested in information that is relevant to their own unique situations. Though your medical practice may offer many different treatments or options for care, you should identify your target audience and tailor the message of your site to primarily address them.
This means making the information on your website more detailed and directed at the patients you’re most interested in reaching. Many patients seeking treatment for an ailment complain about medical websites and brochures on the topic being too general and look elsewhere for more precise information about their specific condition. It may not always be practical to include information about every stage of a disease, but you should provide patients with all the information they need before visiting your office.
Information on the internet should always be offered in bite-sized chunks. Exhaustively-detailed and lengthy pages on your medical site may contain vital information, but will often scare away visitors. In some cases, it may be wise to offer a quick overview of a condition or treatment, and then additional opportunities to learn more with full-page PDFs or links to other pages or advocacy groups.
Keep your message hopeful.
Many of the patients who visit your medical website may be seeking your help with a condition that is embarrassing, uncomfortable, life-threatening or otherwise difficult to cope with or discuss. Your website should reflect the compassion and understanding you have for your patients and the assistance you can offer them for their physical and emotional ailments.
Many medical websites lapse into dry, clinical speech that, though academic, does not appeal to patients or quell their unease about seeking medical help. It may seem attention-grabbing to begin a page about cancer with the number of lives it claims each year, but this can be upsetting to those battling the disease. Instead, take a gentler approach and stay positive about your potential patients’ chances of recovery. Remember that each visitor to your site is a unique human being and may already be scared about their medical condition—your website should assuage those fears and tell them about their options for treatment.
This means taking care when offering lifestyle advice, which can often feel like unintentional finger-pointing. Instead of implying that your patients have developed their conditions because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, content needs to delicately offer advice on how to feel better and move forward.
Provide free, interesting and valuable content.
On the Web, content is king. The more interesting content you can offer visitors, the more visitors you will have. By continually updating your medical site with valuable, well-crafted information, you make it more likely for visitors to return to your site, recommend you to others and continue engaging with your practice. Content comes in many forms, including blogs, informational pages, videos, pictures, and other infographics. Having a wealth of good content will make you an online authority in your field.
Your patients are looking for something specific when they visit your site, and it’s up to you to provide it for them. By giving them just what they’re looking for in a convenient, easy-to-use package, you can turn every online visitor into a returning patient.