If you think the main job of your therapist website is to look attractive, or to tell people in extensive detail how great your private practice is, then I’ve got to break it to you: that isn’t the case.
In today’s post I’m going to walk you through 8 common myths that surround therapist websites, and help you break through the overwhelm and misinformation that can make these issues seem more complex than they really need to be.
Here’s the thing:
Even though we all visit multiple websites everyday, for many people the process of creating a website remains a mystery.
And, when there is something we don’t understand, a ton of misunderstanding and incorrect information tend to spring up.
Part of the reason for this is that, back in the early days of the internet, you could get away with a lot. I mean, there were fewer websites, and it was much easier to get people to your site. Getting traction online wasn’t easy . . . but it was a very different world than it is today.
Now, in order to be successful, your therapist website has to be more than a digital business card. But there is no reason to panic!! Once you see through these misconceptions, you’ll be much better prepared to make smart choices, and turn your site into a powerful tool that helps you connect with clients AND build your practice.
Myth #1: A Website's Job is to LOOK PRETTY
Let’s get one thing straight: I have nothing against attractive websites! BUT, the main job of your therapist website isn’t to sit around and look nice. A Website is a tool, and its job is to create ACTION. This means that a successful website design will be rooted in a very specific goal: leading the website visitor to taking a specific action.
We all know how easy it is to click around on the web, open twenty tabs exploring a variety of options and then, without thinking much about it, close them all down and move onto something else. We’ve all done it – and when you have, you probably haven’t realized that, though you visited a bunch of sites, none of them engaged you well enough to get you to click through to the next stage.
That’s exactly what a well built website tries to AVOID.
Whether the action is to schedule a consultation, sign up for a newsletter, or download a free asset, a well-built site will encourage the website visitor to dive in and take that next step. (See an example of effective call to action buttons on this client website!)
It can look attractive at the same time – sure. But attractive isn’t the point.
TRUTH: Your website is a tool that should lead people to take ACTION.
Myth #2: Once Your Site Is Built You Can Forget All About It
While it’s true that the initial work that it takes to create and establish your site is a one-time effort, even after it is built, your website will still require some degree of care.
Think of your therapist website like a plant. Once it is firmly rooted in the ground, it is positioned to flourish. In the same way, a well-designed website should be positioned for success. But, just like that plant, some things are necessary on an on-going basis in order for your website to thrive.
The most basic thing that your website will need is maintenance. This is because your website does not exist in isolation. As technology changes, as it always does, your website will need to keep pace so that it does not become outdated or hard to access.
And, just as importantly, your website will benefit greatly from being kept up-to-date and having new content added. Whether this means that you write a periodic blog, or take some other approach, adding new content to your website periodically will help it to rank well and remain visible.
TRUTH: Websites are like plants - they need ongoing attention in order to thrive.
Myth #3: More Pages = A Better Site
When working on creating a website I will often discuss with my client what feeling we want the website to create. Do we want the website visitor to feel hopeful, engaged, or calm?
But another question which is maybe even more important is: what is one emotion that we do not want the website visitor to feel?
The answer to that is always: confused.
The number one thing that we want to avoid when someone comes to a new website is creating a feeling of confusion or overwhelm.
This is because website visitors are very inclined to click away from anything which they find to be overwhelming.
For this reason, websites that are clean, clear and concise are always going to have a better rate of success.
The mindset that “more is better” is definitely out of place when it comes to building a website.
TRUTH: A clean, clear therapist website will create a better experience for your visitor.
Myth #4: People Will Read My Site
This one is a little painful, but it’s important to know.
Research has shown, over and over again, that most people skim websites rather than reading them.
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that the exception to this is when a website has really earned someone’s trust!
That means that once someone has gotten to know you, and has realized that the content on your site is relevant to them and likely to improve their lives . . . then they are much more likely to invest time and mental energy into reading the content on your site carefully.
But, when writing content for your site, we have to write with the assumption that people are likely to skim.
For this reason, we want to design the site in a way that the content is broken up into small pieces, clearly marked with easy to read headlines and images, and sometimes repeats important pieces of information or calls-to-action more than once.
These strategies will ensure that, even the people who are skimming, will get the most important pieces of information while on your site. And, it makes it more likely that we will be able to convert the people who are skimming into people who will invest time into really reading your content.
TRUTH: You need to make your website easy to skim.
MYTH #5: Your Site Will Get Immediate Traction
Like so many things in life, the myth of instant success can be very appealing.
But, although the truth is that building traction with your website does take time, it is also true that that success, which is earned slowly and gradually, is also much more enduring than any overnight success (or “going-viral”) would be.
Your website will take time to generate traction. But there are plenty of things that you can do to make that time shorter, and to make sure that when traffic does come, it comes in the form of the right people who are your ideal clients.
Things like the design of your site, the content on your site, and the content that you create on an ongoing basis through blogging or other means, are all ways that your site will get visible faster, and get visibility with the right people.
TRUTH: It takes time to get real visibility. (But it’s worth the wait.)
MYTH #6: If It Looks Good On Your Desktop - It’s Ready to Launch
Did you know that recent research suggests that 60% of people today are accessing websites primarily through their mobile devices?
This trend is likely to only continue to go up and up, and it has real implications for the way your website needs to be designed. A therapist website that is designed to be accessible primarily through desktop devices, will not be user-friendly to what may well be the majority of people coming to your site.
For this reason, it is essential today that your website is designed to be responsive.
This means that your website should be designed in such a way that it will resize automatically to any size device. So that, whether your website visitor is using their mobile phone, their iPad, or any other device with any size screen, your website will look equally attractive, and be equally easy to engage with.
TRUTH:Your website needs to be responsive and easy to read on any device.
MYTH #7: I Don’t Need Content to Design the Site
When people think of designing a website, they often think first of the obvious design elements. Things like fonts, images, and the color palette are the things which are foremost in their minds. And although all these different elements are very important, the truth is that all those elements are meant to amplify and complement the content of your site.
This is because the content is ultimately what really gets your message across. The content is what tells your website visitor who you are and how you can make their lives better. And for this reason it is crucial to always start with the content.
By writing the content first, you can ensure that the website design and visual elements help to accentuate, explain and amplify the core message that you want to get across to your visitors.
The mistake of doing the design first, and then trying to fit the content into the design is a mistake which leads, ultimately, to having a look and feel that comes across as inconsistent with the brand, the voice, and the purpose of your website.
TRUTH: Content is King. Write first, design second.
MYTH #8: A Free / DIY Site Will Be Just Fine
Nowadays there are so many ads and services which claim that by using them, you can create a perfect, professional, and amazing website for free, and in practically no time at all.
But with websites, just like in the rest of life, you get what you pay for.
I have never met a therapist (and I’ve worked with a LOT), who did not put a tremendous amount of time and thought into the look and feel of their therapy office.
Why is this?
It’s because they instinctively realize that when a client comes into their office, many of the things in their environment will impact their clients experience.
If you want someone to be able to sit down, look you in the eye, and tell you about some of their most difficult, or personal experiences, you want to make sure that everything: from the seat on which they are sitting, to the color of the walls, to the noise machine going outside your door (which ensures that their conversation is private), all of these elements are crucial to make your client comfortable enough to be able to tell you all of the things that they need to during the therapy session.
Your website is just the same.
This means that when a person’s first introduction to you – which will most likely be through your website – the things that they see on your site: from the design, to the colors, the words, the images, etc, all of those things will create a feeling for them.
This feeling will either help them to feel comfortable reaching out to you, and asking you for the support that they need, or will make them feel uncomfortable so that they move onto the next therapist who came up when they did a Google search.
The type of website experience that you provide will have a direct impact on the experience people have when they start to learn about your services.
When a client walks into your office, you want them to feel welcome and at ease.
Your website should make them feel the exact same way.
TRUTH: Investing in a quality site is an investment in your practice's growth.
There are lots of myths that surround what a website is, how it functions, and what goes into the process of making one that works right.
But, when understood correctly, and used to its full potential, your website can be an awesome and powerful tool.
Now I’d Love to Hear From You!
I hope this article has given you some insight, and gotten rid of some of the overwhelm that can surround websites!
Now I want to know what you think:
What myths have you heard about therapist websites or website creation?
What questions do you have about what you’ve read?
Leave a quick comment below and let me know!
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Hi! I’m Sarah.
I help counselors and therapists have a bigger impact on the world through better client connection. I do this by creating beautiful visuals and strategically designed websites.