Developing a website

Developing an excellent practice website

Posted in Practice Infrastructure–Tech, Website, etc.

Every mental health practice needs a practice website. Yet, most of us dread the idea of building one. We are often put off by either the technical or the artistic aspects of developing a practice website. Therefore we avoid prioritizing the project, failing to devote the time it deserves.

And yet, your website is a crucial component for establishing your brand. We want the results of a good site, to be listed in an internet search. Additionally, we want our site to make a positive impression that is consistent with our message. (I say more about this in the post: Developing all aspects of your branding message in mental health practice.) 

Let’s first look at the options for developing a practice website, then consider how to find a pro to help us, and finally look at some of the key components on an excellent website.

Option 1: Building the website

What is most important about a website is that it positively represents you. While there will be some expense, it does not need to be fancy. And your website should make it easy for referrers and potential clients to find you. To accomplish that you will need good search engine optimization, SEO is the skill of building sites that get listed higher in internet searches. SEO is an essential aspect of building a website and will help your potential clients find you.

As I’ve mentioned, website development for a practice is both a technical and artistic process. If you have an eagerness to learn about websites, you can build it yourself. If that interests you, look at these options. Many, if not all, have free domain names and email attached:

To start, you will want to pick a template. You can select from thousands of options. Most offer a tutorial to help you get started. Some of them also have designers available to help if you get in over your head.

Option 2: Hiring a company that specializes in creating sites for therapists 

If you are not interested in technology or design, consider hiring a website developer. Remember that they are also helping you shape your brand. Here are some companies that advertise that they build websites for therapists:

Indeed, this will be a several thousand dollar investment, whether you pay by the month or as a flat fee. Finding the right way that fits you is essential. 

Option 3: Finding a custom website designer

Personally, I hired a local website developer, designer, and branding consultant. At times, this choice was expensive, but I liked working with someone with branding experience. I had no experience with websites, design, or branding, nor was I particularly interested in learning about them. I just needed a website that worked well. 

So how do you find a website developer? Start by looking at the websites of practices in your area. See which sites you like. Look at the footer of the Home page, and usually, you will see the designer’s company name. 

And if you are looking for a bit more out-of-the-box website designs, be inspired by these sites posted by Emily, who describes herself as a “licensed mental health counselor, business coach, and website designer.” See Therapy Website Examples to Inspire Your New Design.

What should be on the Homepage of your website

Whatever method you choose for developing a practice website, you will be contributing to the content of what is on the website. You are a vital part of the website team. After all, your website is about your practice and you. Give yourself some time to think through what you want to say and how you say it.

The Homepage is the place that new visitors land when they come to your website. (See 113 design guidelines for Homepage usability for an excellent overview of all that goes into the Homepage.) Your Homepage should have these elements displayed:

  1. Your website name 
  2. Images and logo for your practice
  3. A tagline that summarizes what you do
  4. The essential services you offer, including any specialties
  5. Your address and contact information
  6. Any distinctions that highlight your uniqueness

Some practices also include “Scheduling” and “Payment” buttons on the Homepage. These options are available with specific practice management software or stand-alone add-on buttons. But think it through. Once you have these buttons, then you have to monitor them and keep processing the data that comes from the site.

Menu structure for your practice webpage

Typically the Homepage also has a set of Menus that take you to relevant information. A basic set of Menus might be:

  • About us
  • Staff
  • What to expect
  • Locations (or Directions)
  • Resources

Of course, you will want to do it your way. Each of these Menus will take you to more information about the practice. And then on each of those pages may contain links to other pages or documents. Some additional links might be: 

  • Documents for clients to download or complete
  • Blogs you have written
  • Staff photos, bios, and how to contact each staff member
  • And on the Resource page, a list of links you think your clients might value

You can see that there is logic to the flow of information. And there is lots of opportunity for creativity and unique contributions. You can work on collecting and writing that info prior to even starting your website.

Developing your practice website 

While it is hard to commit to building a website, once you have begun, there is a fairly manageable flow. Of course, you will have some back and forth with your designer and maybe with yourself. But the task is certainly doable if you give yourself the time. You may even come to enjoy the process.

And as a further method for improving your site, I strongly encourage you to find others you trust to give you feedback about the results of your efforts. They need not be a therapist. But yes, fresh eyes are needed. Kick it around and see how it wears for a bit. 

Again, what is most important is that you have a website that positively represents you. 

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