Why the Most Beautiful Medical Practice Website Can Still Fail

Today on the Medical Marketing Podcast, we'll look at why the most beautiful practice websites can still fail to attract patients – and how you can avoid common pitfalls to ensure your practice's success.

2 months ago   •   6 min read

By Crawford Ifland

If you've ever watched a show like Grey's Anatomy, you've probably seen it before: an otherwise healthy person goes in for a checkup and is diagnosed with a rare, debilitating disease.

The patient is shocked: they look healthy on the outside! But after some blood work and diagnostic tests, the truth is revealed: they have a hidden illness lurking beneath the surface.

We see this all the time with physicians' websites. A website might look fine on the surface, but underneath, it has hidden problems that are limiting its performance or causing other issues.

Today on the Medical Marketing Podcast, we'll look at why the most beautiful practice websites can still fail to attract patients – and how you can avoid common pitfalls to ensure your practice's success.

Welcome!

Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast.

I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to look at the reasons why even the most beautiful practice websites can still fail to help practices grow. We'll explore topics like usability and conversion rate optimization, and we'll show you what you can do if you have an outdated website that's hurting your practice.

It's time to listen and learn. Let's dive in.

Patient Conversion > Patient Perception

Beautiful practice websites are not enough to ensure success. Your practice website does need to look good, but it also needs to help you reach your business goals.

Too often, these goals are in conflict.

For example, a website might be very easy to use but not have the right contact information. Or maybe it's difficult for patients to find what they're looking for on the site - there are too many options, so they get frustrated quickly and bounce off the page.

These issues can cause problems that affect your bottom line: fewer patients coming in the door. The phone not ringing. Unhappy patients who leave bad reviews because of a frustrating or less-than-perfect experience.

The point is this: Building a beautiful website and then ignoring it or not making any changes throughout the years can have serious consequences for your practice's success, so you need to audit your site regularly to make sure that it's meeting its goals as well as being easy for people to use.

A beautiful practice website isn't a bad thing. In fact, you should aim for your website to be aesthetically pleasing. After all, you want your patients to walk away from their appointment thinking, "Wow, that was a great experience."

Why should your practice website be any different?

The problem is that too many doctors focus on aesthetics over usability. They go for style over substance; for flash over function.

In reality, doctors should be focusing on performance rather than just perception.

Yes, you want to make a good impression, but you're also running a business here. If your website's design gets plenty of compliments but fails to produce patients, you've got a problem.

Common Usability Issues

In the end, poorly-performing practice websites all come down to usability.

Usability refers to how easily people can find what they're looking for on a page - if there aren't links where they expect them, too many options, confusing navigation menus...these kinds of things might cause frustration with your prospects and ultimately lead them off the page without taking any action whatsoever. That's what we want to avoid - so let's take a look at some of the most common usability issues we see with practice websites that fail to perform.

Number 1? Poor mobile performance.

Mobile Performance is Poor

Most Internet traffic these days comes from mobile devices. We all have supercomputers in our pockets, and we use them to do nearly everything for us. Healthcare websites are no different.

The mobile Internet has made great strides in usability - we're much better off now than we were in even the early 2000's - but you can't just assume your website will perform well on mobile devices. You have to design with mobile in mind.

Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure your mobile website loads quickly and is easy to navigate. You never want patients to be more than two clicks away from the information they need.
  • Make sure contact information is on every page and is easy to find. The website footer is a common place to put this, but you may want to consider "click-to-call" links in your navigation, too.
  • Finally, do some tests to make sure that your site looks as it should on a variety of mobile devices - you can't just assume that all of your patients have the newest iPhone.

Lack of Clear Calls-to-Action

The second big mistake we see doctors make is a lack of clear calls-to-action.

A call-to-action is just that: it directs your patients to take the logical next step.

Any time you see a prompt on a website, that's a call-to-action:

  • Buy now.
  • Subscribe to our newsletter.
  • Contact us.
  • Request more information.

You need to have clear calls-to-action interspersed throughout your website. Regardless of their progress along the patient journey, your prospects should know exactly what they need to do next: pick up the phone? Schedule a consultation right then and there? Download resources about financing or insurance?

A good rule of thumb is that you should have no more than one call-to-action on each page of your website. You want to make it crystal-clear what patients are supposed to do next.

By designing your calls-to-action thoughtfully and intentionally, you can boost your conversion rates and win more patients.

Beautiful Design + Poor SEO = Failure to Thrive

I'll just go ahead and say it: if you have the most beautiful site in the world but it performs poorly on Google, your practice will fail.

Google is how most patients find a doctor these days. Recent studies suggest that 9 out of 10 patients start their search for healthcare services on Google.

In the end, Google cares way more about the content on your website than it does about how your website looks. Google does look at some usability aspects of your site - it wants to make sure that people have a good experience using your site after all - but at the end of the day, people use Google to obtain information, not to find the prettiest websites on the Internet.

In the world of SEO, content is king. That's why the best way to kill it on Google is to write valuable, informative content on your website. Answer patients' questions. Address their concerns. Show them how your services will help improve their lives, and demonstrate that you'll be there every step of the way.

That's the kind of thing that Google and your patients want to see.

Provide value first. Once you've done that, then you can focus on how to present that content visually online.

Remember, function comes first - then form.

Aesthetics and Performance Aren't Mutually Exclusive

Here's the good news: aesthetics and performance don't have to be mutually exclusive! The problem comes when doctors focus on aesthetics first and then try to cram performance into what they've already built.

The correct approach is to focus on performance: Usability. Performance. Mobile-friendliness. Conversion rate optimization.

Only after you've addressed these key components and made sure your performance is stellar can you focus on the way your site looks.

Patients - and Google - want to see valuable, informative content. They want to be able to find key information quickly, without having to hunt it down. They want a site that anticipates their every need and directs them to the next action they should take. They want the convenience of scheduling an appointment from their couch.

And if your site is beautiful to boot, that's a bonus. Just don't think that beauty alone will get you very far.

Next time…

Well, that’s all for this week’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – thanks for tuning in.

You can subscribe to The Medical Marketing Podcast for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you like the show, let us know by writing a review on Apple Podcasts – we’ll have a link in the show notes.

If you want more practice marketing resources, check out our website at www.messenger.md. We’re always sharing helpful tips and know-how to help you improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level.

That’s all for today’s episode – I’m Crawford Ifland. See you next time.

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