By KATIE LUNDIN
If you’re in the healthcare industry, you know it’s important to cultivate trust.
Health can be a very personal matter. Healthcare providers make life and death decisions for their patients. And, every patient makes themselves vulnerable (financially with their health insurance and physically with their medical team) with every interaction.
The personal stakes can’t get any higher.
So, building a foundation of competence, credibility, and trustworthiness is essential for every business in the healthcare industry.
And, as the primary online ambassador for any healthcare business and a core part of your brand identity, if your website fails to inspire trust you will lose customers.
Don’t take our word for this. Seventy-five percent of people judge the credibility of a business based on its website.
People may judge healthcare businesses even more harshly because the potential stakes are so high.
Don’t lose business – or, more importantly, the chance to help patients in need – due to weak website design.
Here are 8 tips for making your healthcare website design more credible and trustworthy.
Keep your healthcare website patient-centric
Patients – people – are the lifeblood of the healthcare industry.
That’s why it’s vital that your website is designed with your patients in mind.
If patients or prospective patients can’t find what they need easily, then your website has failed in its sole purpose. And, you’ve likely lost a customer.
Avoid healthcare industry jargon
The healthcare industry is complex. And the language spoken among healthcare professionals is equally complex.
But, on your website, it’s important to keep the language simple and easy for patients and prospective patients to understand.
To make your website accessible, double-check all of your website copy from a layman’s perspective.
Will the average patient understand what you’ve written? If not, revise your copy until it’s clear, easy to understand, and free of baffling industry terminology.
Make it easy for people to contact you
Many people will visit your website to schedule a visit. Or perhaps they have questions about their insurance. Or they may want to speak with their doctor. But whatever the reason for their visit, the next step is likely to give you a call.
So, make it easy for people to find your contact information.
Display contact info clearly on every page so that patients can easily reach you when they’re ready. The simple act of making contact information easy to find shows your willingness to interact with your patients – and that you really care.
And be sure that the business name under which your company operates its healthcare business is accurate and not confusing.
Many healthcare businesses incorporate under one name but operate their business under an assumed name. If you do this, you must register a “Doing Business As” name with your state and/or local governments. To learn more, review how to file a DBA in all 50 U.S. States and Territories.
Provide clean, simple website navigation
The last thing a patient needs to deal with while navigating healthcare issues (and your website) is a confusing navigation system.
Overly minimalist designs that hide all of the menu options – or overblown websites that jam in too many navigation options – are both poor choices for a healthcare website.
Avoid hidden navigation in favor of organized menus that clearly address patients’ most common needs. The most important web pages should be easy to find. The Mayo Clinic does a fantastic job of this on their homepage (shown above).
Pro-tip: Use Google Analytics to determine which pages of your website receive the most traffic. Then verify that those pages are easily accessible from the navigation menus on your home page.
And be sure that your mobile navigation is equally clean and simple.
Design your healthcare website for fast load speeds
A web page that takes too long to load is a web page that no one will ever see.
As we emphasized:
Did you know that viewers start abandoning your website after mere seconds of load time?
Between seconds 4 and 5 of your website’s load time, 20% of viewers have already left your site. The number only increases from there.
Not only that, the faster your website loads, the higher it ranks with search engines. So, the easier it is to find.
So, design with load speeds in mind. Not sure how? Learn more here.
Make your healthcare website accessible
People of all health levels will need to access your website.
According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the United States have some type of disability. That’s just over one-quarter of Americans.
Add to that number those who are sick and those who are stressed as a result of a family member’s injury or illness… Many, many of your websites visitors will be experiencing an impairment of some kind. And, it’s essential that your website design enables these users can get what they need.
Accessible web design ensures that all people visiting your website can navigate it successfully. And, it shows that your healthcare business knows and cares about its audience.
Keep in mind the following accessibility tips:
- Use higher contrast ratios to improve visibility.
- Avoid designs that rely too heavily on color – or the color-blind may be left behind.
- Use a consistent navigation scheme for ease of use.
- Ensure your website can be navigated using a mouse or a keyboard.
- Use responsive design to adapt to whatever type of screen your visitor is using.
- Use plenty of white space to make your website easy to read.
For more detailed guidance on web-accessible design, read this article from UC Berkeley.
Your healthcare website must be HIPAA compliant
As you know, in the U.S. healthcare system, HIPAA (aka the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance governs much of what healthcare companies do.
And, many of today’s patients are also aware of HIPAA. So, if your website isn’t HIPAA compliant, you run the risk appearing wildly unprofessional (at a minimum) or paying expensive fines or even doing jail time (at a maximum).
So, what does a HIPAA-compliant web design look like?
Here are a few guidelines to get you started.
- Your website must protect patient data. All files, data storage, and data transmissions must be SSL encrypted. This ensures that the data is protected whether it’s traveling to or from your website or being stored there.
- Electronically protected health information (ePHI) should not appear anywhere on your website. This includes testimonials, case studies, or web copy.
- Protect the data collected by contact forms. Does your website encourage new patients to fill out a form in order to schedule an appointment? Even simple contact info (name, email, and phone number) should be encrypted.
Create a unique website design that inspires trust.
As we’ve mentioned, patients trust the healthcare industry with their well-being. And, that’s an intimate level of trust.
But, it’s hard to trust a business with your health, if their website is full of typos or poor design.
If your site uses a template and looks like thousands of other healthcare sites, your patience and prospective patients won’t be able to differentiate you from your many competitors.
This also holds true for elements of your brand identity, including your business name and your business logo. Be sure both are unique and not generic if you’re looking to stand out in a very crowded healthcare market.
There’s no room for error in your copy, your coding, or your design. Failure to pay attention to details like these will drive visitors away.
As we emphasized in our guide to starting a business,
Your website is one of your new business’s most important ambassadors and a crucial component of your marketing and branding strategy.
This is equally true for an existing business. It’s too easy for people to transfer that lack of attention to detail on your website to the healthcare or health insurance tasks that matter so profoundly to your patients.
So, when building or updating your website, be sure to:
- Proof-read your web copy for grammatical, spelling, and informational errors.
- Get a professional to design your website. Avoid website builders and generic website templates (even if they’re free).
- Test your website for functional errors. Ensure all links and forms are working as they should.
Review your website with the same critical eye you would apply to a patient’s chart or insurance paperwork. If you don’t find the errors, potential patients will.
No detail is too small.
Interested in the latest website design trends?
Web design never stops evolving. And, that constant movement leads to evolution, innovation… and occasionally some regrettable web design trends. Still, it’s good to keep an eye on trends. They often lay the foundation for new best practices. Here's a good look at the latest website design trends.
Healthcare is always changing, but…
Healthcare has never been more important.
And, your healthcare business – whether you provide medical support or financial support – plays a vital role in the well-being of patients.
Don’t let your important work be held back by poor web design.
Your business needs a strong, professional website in order to best serve its patients. Follow the tips we’ve shared and you’ll make a stronger impression and win over more patients.
Katie Lundin is a Marketing and Branding Specialist at crowdspring, one of the world’s leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. She helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and agencies with branding, design, and naming, and regularly writes about entrepreneurship, small business, and design on crowdspring's award-winning small business blog.