This week, let’s talk websites. Because there’s a lot of bad ones out there, and there’s a lot of mistakes to be made in the process of getting one. So, here’s my 7 biggest tips for making the best website!
I won’t waste your time so let’s just jump right in…
#1 Have a freaking website!
This should go without saying at this point in time, but if you’re really trying to get out there and market your practice at all, to get new clients in the door, you need a website. Even if your target audience includes a large portion of people who may not be online all the time, a website is one of the most powerful and most cost-efficient marketing tools there is.
#2 Pay for it
Don’t be afraid to pay for a website. Those free ones are not very customizable at all, and they don’t usually look all that professional, to be honest. For the love of Pete, it not that expensive! You’re talking, maybe $15 a year for a domain name registration, and maybe $5-$15 a month for hosting, and that may even include email and some other features depending on what company you go through.
#3 DIY or Pay a Pro
Honestly, there’s no black and white answer here with which is better. It really depends on you. If you absolutely hate technology and you’ve never gone beyond some 1998 Gateway computer or something, then yeah, maybe hiring a pro is best. There’s nothing wrong with that. But please do your research and do not overextend yourself financially for this. You only need a basic informational website as a therapist (for the most part), so there’s no sense in dropping thousands of dollars on a website. If you don’t mind learning a little bit and putting in some time, it can be so worth it to DIY a website. Most website hosting companies have a really user-friendly, drag-and-drop sort of site builder that will allow you to put together a nice looking website in, usually, less than an hour. But this brings me to…
#4 Don’t go down the rabbit hole
It’s really easy to lose hours when you’re looking through themes, photos, and the like. There’s a gazillion options when you start to DIY your website, so before you ever get on there to start designing, get all your components together first. Give yourself an hour or two to research other websites and what you like and don’t like…what’s going to translate well to what you want to represent for your business online. Write out all your copy, your about me, service descriptions, taglines, and whatever else. This will save you from trying to fit copy into a design, and rather you can work your design around your copy, which is the way you should be doing it. Plan the kind of photos and graphics you’ll want to put where. This will save you from searching for hours or flip flopping on what looks good where. Then, if you want, plan out some basic design concepts; how you want stuff laid out. What kind of look are you going for on each page? That’ll narrow down your search on themes or layouts. Then and only then should you actually get started building; finding that theme and putting all the content in.
Now, if you decide to hire a pro, no problem…but there’s one big issue with this that I want you to be aware of, because a lot of people make a mistake here. So this leads me to…
#5 Keep control of your website
Even if you have someone else handling the design or development, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to go in and make changes if needed, or transfer control away from those people. What happens if your designer or developer is out on vacation and you have some expired special still up on your website that needs to be taken down. You should be able to go in and do that yourself. So make sure you have the capability to do so and at least a basic understanding of how to make simple changes. Or what if you need a really simple thing changed…are you going to be waiting for a week for your designer to have time to do it? Or are you going to have to pay an extra fee because it goes past your monthly or quarterly allowance of changes? Or what if, God forbid, your designer just ghosts you. I’ve seen this happen, and it means the person literally had no way to access their own website. They lost the domain, all the content, and had to start over from scratch. I’ve known far too many therapists who have lost control of their sites like this and not only can they not make changes themselves and they’re entirely dependent on the developer, but some have even been locked in so they can’t transfer away from that developer if they’re not happy with the service, or otherwise don’t have true ownership of the site.
#6 Focus on functionality
People get caught up on the design part, the look of their website. And while yes, you do want a site that is eye-catching and nice to look at, more importantly you want one that is functional. That means it’s easy to navigate and intuitive to how someone would normally click through a website. On each page and each section of each page, you need to be sure that you’re considering what you want your ideal client to get out of it and where you want them to go next. I’ve seen some really pretty websites, but their functionality royally sucked, and it meant I didn’t even want to take the time to figure out what the heck I was supposed to do to find the information I needed. So I didn’t stay, which means I didn’t do business with them.
#7: Make it simple
For those of us over a certain age, we can remember back to those first websites with the gazillion flashy things on a black background and banners and stars and dancing clipart and all kinds of craziness from those early days of the world wide web. Yeah, let’s not do any of that. Because regardless of the fact that we’re in 2019, there’s still people who are going for flashy because they think it’s eye catching. It’s not catching anyone’s eye, it’s hurting their eyes. Just keep it simple. Your design, your copy, your navigation. You don’t need cute, coy, or trendy little things all over the place. You’re a service based business, which means you need them to book an appointment with you. Simple. Educate them on what you do and why they need it. Then tell them how to get it…and make it easy to do so. Simple as that.
So what do you think of these 7 tips? How can you take these and start implementing them right now?
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