There are some therapist website features that are going to be specific to you. And certainly things like the look and feel of your site and your content will be all yours.
But some website features are universally needed on any good private practice website, regardless of what type of therapy practice you have or your unique business goals.
These essential features can guide you in terms of selecting a good-fit website solution or evaluating the one that you are on. Use this as a checklist for ensuring your website meets the most basic of requirements.
1. Clear, Well-Structured Navigation
Part design, part planning, having a clear and well-structured navigation has two important roles.
One role is to help human visitors find what they are looking for on your site. In many research studies on web usability, the most important feature of a website for it’s users wasn’t colors or images but it was how quickly they could find an answer to their question.
Another role of well-structured navigation though is for non-human visitors, aka: robots like the ones sent out by search engines like google who are trying to understand your website. By looking through the navigation, they are able to map out the priority pieces of content and index them appropriately for searchers to find. With messy, confusing, or hard-to-crawl navigation, you’ll miss out on SEO value.
2. Contact Information Persistently On Every Page
You can squeeze your contact information into various places of a header or footer but the best therapist website designs will provide a space for your name, address, and phone number on every page.
So is there space in the header or footer for your contact information? And further, can you do it in a way that creates visual interest/ease for website visitors to view it and interact with it? Can you link to a map for those viewing your website on mobile who might be on their way to their appointment?
The contact information being on every page is also important for local SEO. Any local SEO you do will benefit from a website with NAP (name, address, phone) on every page of your website.
3. Mobile Responsive Design
It’s 2018, not 1998. Every website needs to be mobile responsive, meaning that it provides a good user experience at any screen size – from desktop to small smart phones.
Mobile design isn’t just about making it easier for visitors to browse from their mobile devices. It’s also a ranking factor for mobile search.
All websites should take advantage of both benefits by being mobile responsive.
4. Good Hosting
Good hosting is an absolute essential. How are people going to visit your digital space if it’s not even online? Bad hosting means more downtime, slow server response times, and a bad support desk should something go wrong.
On the other hand, good hosting means your site is online 99% of the time or more, the site loads quickly, and you have a support desk that responds quickly and efficiently. Good hosting can also make all the difference to security as well with less chances of your site getting hacked.
Speaking of which, good hosts should also provide TLS security, which is a secure way to send information between the server that hosts your website and the computer that your website visitor uses.
This form of security adds an “s” at the end of the traditional web protocol “http.” The benefits are that it’s good for SEO, good for protection against hackers, and you will look more credible too with many web browsers inserting a broken or red lock if you don’t have this form of security on your site.
5. Solid Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the SEO of the technical side of your site. If you’re using a template (which you probably should) then you’ll be relying on the template builder to provide that tech SEO base for you.
You’ll also want to ensure other technical points are taken care of as the way your hosting is set up or website is installed can also affect how good tech SEO is. Do your research and make sure all points are SEO friendly which means your site will be built with crawlable, clean, indexable code.
There are some notorious cases of website builders spitting out terrible permalink structures or uncrawlable pages. You don’t want that!
These Essentials Provide A Solid Foundation
Although these essential features are not as exciting as stuff like photos, colors, and content, they lay the foundation upon which to build a solid therapist website.
Without these 5 features, your site won’t be found or function correctly. It also won’t be doing the bare minimum when it comes to providing a good user experience.
Using this list as a checklist can help you make sure that foundation is there. Have the foundation taken care of? Great! You can move on towards stuff like the 101 ways to improve your therapist website or even what needs to happen beyond: putting together a simple digital strategy.