Make pages easy to navigate by labeling menu tabs and avoiding lengthy paragraphs that aren’t easy to scan. The Web is a visual entity, Dr. Borenstein points out. “You can’t write War and Peace. Keep content to one page, because readers tend to read one page at most.”
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Use a large enough font size that adjusts to a screen’s size, such as 16 pixels; a font style that is easy to scan, such as Garamond, Veranda, Tahoma or Palatino; bullet points; and other tools to help consumers navigate content. Headers will aid readers in understanding each section’s main message.
Photos enhance a website. “The old saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ is true,” Ms. Brouillette says. “Include photos of physicians to show that they care and are open, which begins the trust process.”
A website needs to be part of a larger Web marketing campaign. Web analytics & search engine optimization work hand in hand.
Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR, practice owner and rheumatologist, Arthritis Treatment Center, Frederick, Md., advises using photos of active people and the practice in motion. “Use photos that offer hope; avoid ones that are depressing,” he says. His website contains commercial stock photography, as well as photos of his practice.
Dr. Wei also strongly recommends using video clips. “Having someone see what you look like and hear how you sound is important—it conveys a sense of authority and expertise,” he says. “It also gives you the opportunity to educate and sell yourself.”
Taking this a step further, Dr. Wei advises allowing viewers to comment on videos. He promptly answers any posed questions. Again, this creates a sense of authority and expertise.
Like videos, surveys offer an interactive and engaging element. “This is a simple way to get people to participate and share valuable information about their practice experience,” Dr. Wei says.
As you begin to create website content, first list all keywords and phrases that are relevant to your practice, Ms. Brouillette advises. Content throughout your website should consistently use these keywords. This helps Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement on the search-results page—a methodology called search engine optimization.
Above all, messaging needs to address website visitors—their needs, desires and concerns. “You want visitors to visualize themselves as needing your services and benefiting from them,” says Ms. Gainer, who designed Arthritis Treatment Center’s website. “Therefore, don’t infuse messaging with self-aggrandizing content that is irrelevant. If the visitor feels your message is all about you and not about them, then they will likely perceive your website as just transparent marketing.”