This article is by Kat Love, website designer at www.katlove.com
I live, breathe, and sleep therapy website design, not only because I help solo and group practices plan, design, and code websites for a living, but because I am deeply passionate about helping psychotherapists.
About ten years ago, I started learning website design and development for my former career as an art model. I designed and developed all of my own portfolio websites, which I used in order to connect with artists to get work – and I just got really into it. I really enjoyed making my websites.
When it was time for a career change, it was a natural choice to go with something that I had been passionate about for such a long time. This year, I decided to work specifically with psychotherapists as I believe they are superheroes. I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor and I’ve had such an incredible healing experience going to therapy.
When I was trying to think of who I wanted to help with my skills, I decided to work with some of the most intelligent, compassionate, and awesome people I could think of, and that’s psychotherapists.
To help you show how awesome you really are online, I’ve put together these 7 tips for getting your therapy website off to a strong start. If you’re thinking of building a website, or redesigning an old website, my hope is that these insights will help.
1. Keep in mind that less is more
When it comes to web design, ‘less is more.’ One change that I’ve seen happen in web design over the past years is a move towards clean, minimal design and content. For example, Yahoo was the biggest and best search engine years ago. However, their search page was so cluttered. There was so much stuff going on the Yahoo front page.
And now, Google dominates the search engine space, and what do they have on their front page? Nothing but a search box and their name. Web design today is a lot cleaner and focused.
2. Mobile responsive is no longer an option – it’s essential
As of today, more and more people use mobile devices such as phone tablets to access the internet, which means having a responsive website is no longer optional, it’s a requirement. There’s no question that a lot of people are going to be visiting websites from their mobile devices. If you don’t have a responsive website:
- You are delivering the poor user experience possible for every website visitor.
- It makes you look unprofessional and that you don’t invest into your practice.
- You look outdated and out of touch with the times (and most likely, behind your competition).
- Google may not rank you in mobile search results! This year, Google started taking mobile responsiveness into consideration in mobile search engine results. They even said, “We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results.” In other words, not having a responsive website hurts your mobile SEO.
3. Use WordPress self-hosted as a website platform
One of the best website platforms today is WordPress. I love WordPress for so many reasons! I think one of the biggest reasons is that WordPress can scale. If you are at all interested in growing your practice now or in the future, WordPress can grow as you do. But just because the potentialities are there, it doesn’t mean you have to use all of the built-in, advanced functionalities right away.
WordPress is good for practices at any level. Another reason I like WordPress is that it’s incredibly popular. I believe a bit more than 20% of the web is run on WordPress. Even Caitlyn Jenner has a WordPress self-hosted website!
I’m not mentioning this because I believe in conformity, but rather because WordPress being so popular means that you can find answers really easily. You can probably even teach yourself the basics of WordPress through free YouTube tutorials.
4. Avoid these common mistakes seen on therapy websites
A few common mistakes I see therapist make:
- Not investing in website design resulting in a website that looks “spammy” or unprofessional.
- Not including a way for people to get in touch with them on every page. Phone numbers or email addresses should be placed consistently in the header or footer.
- Not putting their location on every page. Including your location is vital if you want to come up in the search engine results for your area. In addition to search engine friendly, it’s also human-friendly, meaning that website visitors can easily find out where they would be able to find you in real life.
- Too much clutter! Need I say anymore on this?
- Using terrible photography, meaning stock photography that looks inauthentic or posed.
- Making the website all about them, such as talking about credentials, training, and healing modalities instead of staying client-focused or basing design decisions on what they like or enjoy instead of what will be effective in terms of their website strategy.
5. Get to know these top website trends
If you are planning to create your own website or planning to redesign, keep these top website trends in mind to ensure your website doesn’t look like it was built in 1995:
- Better photography – bigger and better quality. No more terrible stock photos. In the big internet world, you can now even find photos for free or for purchase.
- Bigger font size – especially considering mobile screen use! Don’t force your readers to squint.
- Email lists – this is more of an online marketing trend, but email lists and email marketing is here in a big way in 2015, so designing clean but eye-catching opt-in forms on websites is key.
- Wide sections with wider layouts – we’re seeing a lot of horizontal sectioning of space which allows for good scroll ability with obvious points where the eye can rest.
- Single column layouts instead of multiple column layouts – this connects back to the idea of less being more.
- Flat design – meaning no more bevels or embossed or gradient-ed stuff. For instance, buttons that are trying to look realistic are considered very 1995.
6. Focus on website conversion
Conversion is when website visitors have been engaged and compelled enough to complete a certain goal. It’s important that your website converts because it means the difference between a website visitor just visiting and a website visitor actually taking that next step to signing up for your list, contacting you for the first appointment, or engaging with you on social media.
Simple tips to improve website conversions:
- Make a clear CTA on every page. CTA is an acronym for call to action. It’s essential that you clearly invite your website visitor to take action. Evaluate every page by asking the question “Am I clearly inviting my website visitor to take the next step?.” That next step could be something like getting people to sign up for your list or contact you for an appointment.
- Remove distractions. I know there are a lot of shiny objects when it comes to websites, and it’s hard to resist putting all of them on your website, but every graphic, design feature or functionality comes with a price. Each one costs attention. You want to ensure your website visitor’s attention is on that primary CTA. For example, something I see all the time on psychotherapy websites, are social buttons right next to a newsletter sign up form. For most practices, it will be a much higher priority CTA to get a visitor on your email list than to get them to follow you on social media. So removing the social buttons can help your newsletter sign up form not have competition and, therefore, lead to growing your list that in turn can lead to higher conversions.
- Start a blog. Blogging has all sorts of other benefits like being great for search engine optimization and giving you content that can be shared on social media. But what some people don’t realize about blogs is that they can help website visitors get to know us. Nothing converts better than a website visitor feeling like they know you.
7. Keep the future in mind: website design is getting faster and search engines more critical
Everything is going to get faster. I’m not only talking about website loading times but also the way in which we design and write for our websites. Websites in the future will make it quicker to find the information that we’re looking for, and search engines will be advanced enough to filter out the noise. I think the challenge will be ensuring that you aren’t part of the noise but rather relevant to people’s searches.
Staying relevant can only happen through regular assessment of our websites. How well does my website speak to my potential clients? Is my website design effective or in need of a redesign? Does my website provide a good user experience? So don’t just build and forget about your website, keeping it up to date will mean
Building a Great Website Is Rewarding
Although building or rebuilding your private practice website can seem really overwhelming at first, taking time to research, learn, and plan first can help you take one logical step at a time.
Building a website, especially a great website, is really worth it too. Not only can it help you grow your private practice by providing that key piece to all of your online marketing, it also can help you gain a type of clarity around who you help, how you help them, and why you do and put that out there for the world to see.
Tell us about how you can help us! The world needs more caring and compassionate people like you.
I’ve gone really in-depth here with these 7 tips and I hope they help you get off to a good start with your psychotherapy website design or website redesign. Please feel free to get in touch with any comments or questions or add your comments below.
About Kat Love
Kat Love, founder of www.katlove.com, builds and designs websites to help psychotherapists grow their practice’s online presence. Kat’s appreciation of therapists stems from the powerful healing that therapists helped her achieve following childhood sexual abuse and neglect. Follow her on Twitter at @katlovedesign.