5 Easy Steps to Website Design for Mental Health Clinics (VIDEO) August 9, 2019 Your website is your patient’s first impression of your mental health clinic.” – #TeamBeacon When was the last time you updated your mental health clinic’s website? Experts recommend that you update your website design every 2-3 years. And why is that? Because a lot can happen in a short amount of time! With as fast as technology is moving, the “best practices” you used just a few years ago are probably now “old hat.” In addition, you may be surprised by how much your mental health clinic has changed over the past couple years (and by how little that change is reflected in your website design). At Beacon, we take all our mental health clients through a 5-step process to redesign their website. We are sharing the abbreviated version of those website design services with you today! Take a look! Step 1: Get Together with Your Mental Health Team Chances are, your mental health team has some ideas for how your website design could improve. If they are interacting with the patients who are using your website on a daily basis, your team probably knows which information is difficult to find and which features simply don’t make sense. Start your website design process with a meeting of the minds. Tell your mental health staff to prepare a list of the questions they are asked most frequently. Then, ask yourselves some questions that will clarify exactly what your goals are for the project. Here are some of the questions we ask our website design clients: Do you have a plan for growth? Where would you like to see your mental health clinic in 5, 10, or even 20 years? What is the goal for this website design and how does it fit in with your plan for growth? What are the most important pieces of information you want front-and-center on your website? Do you have any examples of websites you like and what are they? Do you have a brand (logo, colors, fonts, and other visual assets) that can be used in this website design? The goal for this meeting is to come out with a list of the deliverables for your new website design. Step 2: Outline Your Website Design After discussing the big-picture vision for your website design, it is time to start getting into the nitty-gritty details. There are two documents that you will need to create for your mental health team in order to guide the design process, a site map and a wireframe. A site map is simply a flowchart or bullet point list that outlines the pages you would like to have in your website and where you would like them to go in your navigation menu. We call this a “standard” site map for a mental health website with five main pages: Home Page About Us Services Service A Service B Service C Blog Contact Us It includes a home page, an “about us” page, three main services pages, a blog, and a contact page. This is just about all you need to create an effective website. Too much more than this and you start to confuse and lose patients due to information overload. From the site map, you will need to produce a wireframe. According to Google, a wireframe is a “set of images which display the functional elements of a website or page, typically used for planning a site’s structure and functionality.” “(A wireframe is) an image or a set of images which displays the functional elements of a website or page, typically used for planning a site’s structure and functionality.” – Google With site map in hand, you will need to develop a wireframe for each of the pages outlined. “Wireframe” is a big, chunky, technical word, but what it stands for is a really just a simple exercise. A wireframe is no more than a draft sketch of how you want your website design to look. We have met website developers who draw wireframes on napkins. Here’s an example: Source: SmartDraw For your wireframe to successfully guide the project, you will want to include headers, images, content boxes, buttons, and form fields at least. If you do not feel comfortable drawing, you may want to practice by attempting to wireframe an existing website. You may also want to check out some of the free, online wireframing tools available. MockFlow is an excellent example, allowing you to drag-and-drop pre-designed elements. Step 3: Write Your Mental Health Content Your next step is to write the content for your mental health website. In your wireframe, locate all the headers and content boxes where you intended to include text. Follow the three best practices listed below to produce attention-grabbing and engaging content for your website design! A. Choose & Use Keywords No one is going to see your new website design if it doesn’t rank on Google. One of the most important parts of writing website content is keyword research and optimization. For each of your website pages, you will want to identify one or two keywords that reflect the main topic of the page. As an example, for a page on counseling, you might use the keyword “cognitive behavioral therapy,” especially if this is a primary aspect of your service. Be careful, though, because your patients might not actually be using the same words you use to describe your services. Use Google AdWord’s keyword planning tool to research the search volume around certain keywords in your topic area. Simply enter your topic in the search bar and go! Once you have decided upon a keyword for a given page, use that keyword in your headers as well as throughout the page. If you do this effectively, you will show up on the first page of Google for that search term in your area! B. Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines Most website users are skimmers, only glancing at headlines to get an idea for what the website is talking about and to navigate to where they want to go. For this reason, it is very, very important that you get your headlines right. Using your keywords, write short, pithy, to-the-point headlines that grab attention and concisely communicate exactly what you want to say. C. Create Engaging Content Think about the kind of website content that you enjoy reading. Your goal here is simply to imitate just that! It probably has a few, key elements to it: Engaging content is short and gets right to the point Engaging content is written in the second-person, addressing the reader directly as “you” Engaging content is empathetic and speaks to the heart of the matter in the reader’s mind, portraying the benefits of your services in the most compelling way possible from their perspective Do not attempt to share as much information about your mental health services as possible, this can be saved for a blog. Website users get lost in the noise of overly-informative websites. Try to extend an arm to the mental health patients who are reading your website and speak to them where they are at. At the very end of each page, include a call-to-action (CTA) for readers to take the next step toward becoming patients at your clinic. This could be something like, “call us to schedule an appointment” or “complete and submit the new patient forms located on page X.” Step 4: Develop Your Website Design Once all of the pieces are in place–your site map, wireframe, and website content–you have everything you need to seamlessly implement your website design! Begin by deciding on the website software that you would like to use. We use WordPress at Beacon. WordPress is arguably the best website content management system out there. Although we use a robust version of WordPress that requires knowledge of code and other aspects of web development, there are simplified packages available for the beginner. Source: WordPress Do your research and find the package that is best for your needs. Consider what you would like the end product to look like as indicated by your wireframe, as well as what features you would like to include. When you have chosen and launched your package, you are taken into a customization process that includes selecting a website theme and adding your brand information. The theme you choose is the largest factor affecting the design of your website, so carefully compare the themes available with the wireframe you created. Go through the full process of making your theme your own by adding colors, images, and the website content you wrote. If you get stuck on any part of this, visit WPBeginner to get your questions answered! Step 5: Launch Your New Mental Health Website! Is your website design looking the way you want it to? When you are comfortable with how everything turned out, it is time to launch! There are a few things you should check before hitting the final “go” button: Visit each page of your new mental health website and make sure all of the links are working Submit a test entry to any contact forms you have included in your website design Use all popular browsers (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) to visit your website to make sure it looks great across the internet Try loading your website on your smartphone to ensure it is mobile optimized and displaying correctly To set your new mental health website live, login to your hosting account and point your domain name to its new location. Once your new website design is populating at the proper address, it is good to go! Congratulations–You just updated your mental health website! ~ If your mental health website is outdated but you do not have the time to technical knowledge to develop a new website design yourself, we would be happy to help. Our team has been taking clients through this process for over 20 years! We are currently offering a free consultation to anyone who is interested in our services. Schedule your free consultation using our live scheduler. Until we meet, happy marketing!