Jeff Guenther on Oct 15, 2017
As therapists, we all know how important it is to have a good looking and professional website. Often, and probably the vast majority of times, our website is the main determining factor when it comes to clients making their final decision about whether or not to reach out for an appointment. Because of this, it’s important that nothing on your website gets in the way of prospective clients coming in for a session.
Today, I am going to focus on the top 10 mistakes that therapists make when creating their website. As mental health professionals there is a good chance that we don’t closely follow modern web design and advances in user experience. But today you’re in luck! Because I do keep up on that stuff and I’m also a therapist, just like you!
The following 10 mistakes are all things that can be fixed pretty easily. So you have no excuse not to address these issues. I originally came up with a list of 17 mistakes you should look out for. If you’d like to view the full list, which I highly recommend, you can click here and I’ll email it to you.
But before we get started, I wanted to quickly plug my new favorite way to create a therapist website. My friend and colleague, Gwyn Fallbrooke, a practicing therapists in the Bay Area, just launched a brand new online course on how therapists can build their own website in 10 days using the Squarespace platform. If you don’t have a website or you want to quickly make a new one from scratch, then I highly recommend her course. You should know I am not an affiliate of her course and I don’t make any money if you purchase it. I just think it’s totally amazing and that Gwyn is a rockstar. Check it out here.
Now, on to the top 10 mistakes I hope you’re not making.
Not only do dark backgrounds typically look bad and convey doom and gloom, which is a no-no for a health and wellness site, they can also create a bad user experience for visitors. Remember, your background color is the color that your users will see the most.
A shade of white is a safe choice. And safe choices are good choices when it comes to creating a nice and easy user experience. If you do choose a color, stick with a light one. The darker the background color, the harder it is to read all the wonderful content on your website. People have been trained to read dark text on white pages. It’s best not to try and re-condition human behavior on your website. Save that for counseling sessions.
Stop using cheesy stock photography for your images. Your website should feel personal, not factory built. If you want images of people on your website, you should take photos yourself (but only if they look really good). Or use hip and professional stock photo sites like:
The only place social share buttons should live is on your blog page. People may post your blog articles to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but they will not post your homepage, about page, or contact page. So no need for social share buttons on those pages. Plus, it’s tacky.
Psychologists estimate that the impression a color makes on people can impact whether or not that product or service is purchased by as much as 60%. That could make a pretty big difference when it comes to a client deciding whether or not to reach out to you. Personally, I have no idea how to coordinate colors. Luckily there is a tool that will do it for you on the fly. Visit this color calculator and input the main color you’d like to use on your website. The tool will instantly give you the complimentary color plus options for other matching colors that fit perfectly together. Now you have no excuse for an uncoordinated color palette.
As I previously mentioned, it’s super important to make sure your visitors can read all the wonderful content on your website. You spent hours writing it, and it’s how potential clients start developing a rapport with you. Make it as easy as possible for people to scan, absorb and understand what you’ve written.
Here are some important tips:
Having design elements on your site that look even the slightest bit dated can be a red flag for visitors. Internet users are used to websites staying up to date on design and that even includes healthcare professionals who typically know very little about design trends.
When the first iPhone was released it was all about skeuomorphism design. Skeuomorphism is about making items resemble their real world counter parts. It’s no longer a design trend. “Flat” design, which is more simple and elegant, has taken over. Instead of designing your site around real world objects, you should design with icons that have a simple esthetic.
Does your site use shadow or gradients? Those designs elements were left behind a long time ago. Don’t use drop shadows at all and stick with solid colors. And leave 3D to the experts in Hollywood.
First off, yes, every page on your website should have a call to action. As healthcare professionals, we want to make our calls to action more subtle then the typical sales website. No need for flashy graphics and neon accent colors. Just be sure that a visitor can easily access a button that will lead them to a contact or scheduling form.
Having multiple calls to action is overkill and comes off as pushy and overbearing. For example, if any single page on your website has calls to action such as, “Call Now!”, “Schedule an Appointment” or “Learn More,” your visitors will get confused and turned off.
Keyword stuffing is no longer a useful SEO technique. It was popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s when stuffing as many keywords into your content was the primary way to rank well in online search.
If you don’t know what keyword stuffing is, it’s when you take the words that you’d like to rank high for in web search and place them in your content over and over again in an unnatural and forced way. It’s easy to spot it when it’s happening because when you read through keyword stuffed content it doesn’t sound like normal writing.
The important keywords for each page should typically be used just 3 to 5 times. Sometimes more if the content is lengthy. And popular search engines like Google know that words like “counseling” and “therapy” are used interchangeably. So you don’t have to be overly aggressive about making sure all the synonyms of your keywords are used throughout your copy.
To keep you honest, Google will penalize you if you are being sneaky about stuffing too many keywords into your content. So don’t do it!
Modern web design is all about simplicity. Visitors expect to know where they should click and how to get around your site within seconds. If your site is cluttered with different font sizes, tons of images, multiple columns, huge headers, big footers, etc. then potential clients will feel anxious and will mostly likely click away. Blinking graphics need to be removed immediately.
Visitors should be led through your website easily from one page to the next only with the most relevant information on each page. Keep things simple and easy to understand and you’ll create a digital environment that will attract more clients.
Keep your content up to date! It’s not going to be every day that you update your website copy, but it’s important to stay fresh and on top of industry trends. Language in our industry is constantly evolving. For example, instead of referring to a spouse as your “husband or wife” we now refer to them as your “partner.” Regularly update language that is dated and no longer used by the population that you treat.
If you choose to have a blog, which I hope you do, it should be regularly updated with articles at least once every month or two. When visitors look at the date that your blogs were posted and see that you haven’t posted a new article for two years, it can feel fishy or like you’ve given up. And that is definitely not the way to attract new clients.
Now that you know about the top ten mistakes, find out about seven more that you could be making by downloading the full list here.
And if you want to scrap your current website and create a brand new one in just 10 days, purchase Gwyn’s online course that will walk you through doing exactly that. Click here to get started. It could turn out to be a pretty great business decision.
Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff, and his team, have launched a new progressive therapist directory, TherapyDen.