The healthcare industry is always advancing and changing, and so are the ways in which patients interact with healthcare websites online. In the recent past many users simply used a healthcare website to find contact information to contact their provider by phone; they didn’t expect much else from the website. Today that is no longer true. Users expect a healthcare website to be a resource as well as a contact form. Instead of arriving at the website, finding the phone number and calling someone, it is expected that answers be available on the website itself. This change in user behavior in combination with shifting device preferences has led to a domino effect in healthcare web design. Below you will find Faster Solutions Healthcare Design best practices based on over 20 years of experience.
The Faster Points
- Responsive design for healthcare is a must.
- Healthcare websites require employee images and information to be part of the design.
- Spaces for detailed content (a minimum of 250 words per page) must be part of the design.
- Design for retainment. Make user features like online bill pay, scheduling etc, part of your healthcare web design.
While the growth in mobile search and usage is not unique to the healthcare industry, it is still important that its growth be addressed. In the healthcare industry mobile users make up nearly 1/3 of all traffic and continue to grow as a segment. This means it is now more important than ever that healthcare designs be responsive. Without a responsive design nearly 1/3 of your healthcare websites users will not be able to effectively navigate. By having a responsive healthcare website you ensure it continues to be an effective marketing and lead generation tool across all platforms.
Sometimes there exists a belief that due to the age of patients cared for that mobile use isn’t prevalent and a responsive design isn’t needed. Both internal analytics and outside research have shown us that this is just not the case. Older demographics make up a significant portion of mobile users, with 58% of 50-64 age group and 30% of those 65+ utilizing them regularly. Just remember you have around 8 seconds to capture a mobile user’s attention, if your page doesn’t function properly on their device you risk losing them no matter which demographic they are in.
A human touch
As users shift to getting an ever greater quantity of their healthcare information online, healthcare websites have become an ever more powerful marketing tool to set yourself apart from the competition and attract users. We have found one of the most effective ways to attract users, build a connection and increase time on page is to design healthcare websites to be highly visual, employee and patient oriented. This means designing every page to revolve around images of your doctors, employees, and support staff, and even patients (while keeping HIPAA and other privacy rules in mind).
Research shows that by placing people on your pages you allow users to build a connection and a sense of trust, which is especially important in healthcare web design. Employee images also provide another unique value source. For instance, a healthcare provider offers audiology services but a competitor also offers the same services. In terms of the service offering itself (audiology) there is nothing you can say that your competitor can’t also, but by leveraging the uniqueness of your employees you can illustrate a benefit, which your competitor cannot copy, while growing an emotional connection with the user in a way text alone cannot. Based on our experience, the pages that have the most employee detail and information are often the most viewed and play the largest role in converting users and generating leads. This means designing detailed physician information pages, and ensuring they are easily accessible from the relevant service or medical specialties pages, allowing users to see who may be caring for them.
Design for content
We just mentioned the fact that experience in healthcare web design and analytics has shown us that healthcare websites need to be image intensive. This does not however mean employee images can take the place of detailed and informative content. Users still need to find the information and answers they are looking for. If they can’t find them they will go somewhere else. We have seen too many healthcare designs where content and information is sacrificed for aesthetics to the detriment of SEO and user experience. While aesthetics are an important part of any new healthcare web design they must not be the primary focus. You can have an absolutely great looking healthcare website, but if it doesn’t have the content or functionality your users are looking for it will not provide results. This means each of your pages must be designed to support the addition of at least two medium sized paragraphs or no less than 250 words for optimal results. While not a requirement yet, we have also seen great results with the addition of video content to healthcare websites. The type of video can vary, whether it is an employee introduction or details on a service. The important part from a design perspective is that the video be a seamless part of the website and fully responsive. Design to provide your users with the content they are looking for.
While this is more of a development and programming feature of a website, we feel it’s important enough to include it in the healthcare design consideration. Your healthcare website shouldn’t just be used to attract new patients, it should also be leveraged as a powerful patient retainment tool. By developing purely functional items for current patients like online bill pay, appointment calendars, schedules, and online records access into the design, your healthcare website can become an important resource for your current patients. By designing patient value and convenience into healthcare websites we have seen a marked increase in total traffic as well as time on page. In the push to attract new patients, it’s important that your current ones not be forgotten in the design process.
While there are many other important considerations related to privacy, patients, users and your target market that will need to be addressed in the website design process, the above healthcare design recommendations make up the foundation of any healthcare website. If you keep them and your patients in mind throughout the design process, you will go a long way in guaranteeing the success of your new website.
If you have further questions about healthcare web design please contact us today, we are happy to help. If you would like to utilize our experience, to design your healthcare website request more information and a quote now.
By Benjamin Henniges
Faster Solutions Web-marketing Coordinator