Website design across industries has reached a pinnacle in aesthetics, versatility, and user-responsiveness. Gone are the days when a sleek image carousel or flash-based entry on your homepage was enough to have your website stand out. With the nearly 500 new websites joining the Internet each minute, the competition for attention online is more intense than ever before. Ensure that your website has the latest features and installments to capture more online visitors and turn them into satisfied patients.
In the hearing healthcare industry, it’s rare to encounter a practice without a website. Most hearing professionals recognize that more and more of their potential patients are going online to look for local hearing services. They know that having a stand-out website is their best way to attract these patients online.
But surprisingly, many of these websites are missing one or several of the key elements of a modern website. These elements go far beyond simple design aesthetics (but those are important, too), and involve critical structural and functional elements that often determine how easily search engines like Google can find a website related to a search query. Ignoring the latest developments in website design could mean that your website languishes in the far reaches of the search results—effectively becoming invisible.
Consider the following trends that the best websites in the hearing healthcare industry are using to increase traffic to their websites and patients to their offices.
Have you ever landed on a business’s website and found yourself frustrated trying to find the most basic information, like the hours of operation? Most of us have, and this frustration is the result of a poor organization and unintuitive design. When laying out your page design throughout your website—especially for your homepage—the one guiding question you need to ask is, “what are my patients here for?”
Let’s be clear: your website exists for one main purpose: to direct more potential patients through your office doors. In order for it to be effective in this regard, the pathways of information need to be easy to navigate, for both novice and experienced Internet users.
Up to Speed
This is a timeless necessity for every website, but unfortunately, it can quietly creep out of the equation. Unless poorly designed from the start, a website’s speed can be diminished over time by the accumulation of oversized images (added to blogs, for instance) or widgets (like social media feeds added to your homepage, etc). Failing to update your website’s various operating programs and plugins can also slow down its overall speed.
Site speed plays a large role in how well your website is ranked by search engines, so it’s a very important element to maintain. Luckily, checking on how it’s doing is a simple task. Many websites, such as this one, exist to provide a free analysis of your site speed and can help you determine if further action is needed.
Ask any branding expert what the single most important element of a successful branding campaign is and most will tell you immediately: consistency. The entire purpose of your branding—those colors, images, shapes, logo, the overall look and feel of your marketing materials, and even the office design you’ve chosen—is to inspire a certain set of ideas about your practice. Maybe you chose to go with soft and neutral colors to encourage a gentle and nurturing impression for your patients. Or perhaps you’ve gone with sharp design elements to translate a more cutting-edge, modern impression throughout your branding.
No matter what you’ve chosen to represent your practice, it’s important that those elements remain consistent throughout your entire design, from your physical office to your printed materials, and yes, even to your website. This consistency provides an intelligence and cohesiveness to your overall marketing approach, and makes anything you produce (be it a digital newsletter or a printed mailer) quickly recognized as coming from you. Brand recognition is always step one, and it’s an important one.
Content over clutter
These days, the most effective way to boost your ranking in search results and establish yourself as a knowledgeable professional for inquiring patients online is to create informative content on a regular basis. Thorough descriptions of services, a complete “About Me” page, blogs, articles, updates, and even newsletters that are then published on your website all serve this purpose and can gain you important traction with search engines and how they rank your website
The best websites recognize the importance of highlighting this valuable content throughout their various web pages. They are careful to use design elements to support and highlight useful content, with a common theme of minimal design. When this rule isn’t followed, helpful and informative content can quickly become buried under cluttered pages trying to “do” too much. The result is difficult-to-find information and an overwhelming experience for website visitors.
Optimized for Mobile
With more Internet browsers using their mobile smartphones or tablets over computers to search online these days, having a mobile-friendly website is imperative. In fact, it’s so important that Google has even declared that non-mobile responsive websites will be ranked lower in search results. That is a pretty cut-and-dry reason to ensure that your website is fully optimized for mobile devices. If you’re unsure whether your website is mobile-friendly or not, simply visit your website from a smartphone or tablet. If it looks identical to how it would on a computer screen, but with much smaller text, buttons, and images, then it’s likely not been optimized for responsive design.