As the saying goes, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. This has never been as true as it is for websites. The minute visitors encounter your site they’re making judgments: How credible is this site? How easy it is to complete my task?
You have the power to ensure your hospital’s online presence makes a good first impression. So how do you want visitors to feel? What experiences do you want to create for them? What reasons are you giving them to
The first interaction consumers have with your organization could occur online – perhaps they’re using the Web to learn about your services or to find a provider. Consumers could be familiar with your organization and just visiting the site for the first time – perhaps to look up a diagnosis. Regardless, every visitor has certain expectations that need to be met.
Here are some aspects to keep in mind as you work on delivering value to site visitors:
- Compelling Design: Before visitors have a chance to make an appointment or even read your content, they see your visual design. How does your design communicate your organization’s brand? Is it antiseptic or caring? Does it look like it was designed specifically for your hospital or does it look like a free template? Visual design offers more than just aesthetics, it establishes credibility.
- Targeted Content: Visitors often visit hospital websites when they’re newly-diagnosed and are looking for information about their condition or services you have available. Think through the content consumers seek and create information architecture and navigation that directs them to that information.
- Optimized Pages: Traffic on many hospital sites originate from search engines, so most visitors never see the home page. That’s why each page on your site should be optimized as if it were a landing page for the topic. Consumers won’t dig through your site to find information. Pages should have relevant information and links that direct them to more information. For example, health library information should link directly to related service line information, hospital news and physicians.
- Calls to Action: Health consumers are action-oriented. They may start a search looking for service information, but their real goal is to sign up for a treatment or get more information. Therefore, you should place calls to action throughout the site. Service line information should lead to signups for related newsletters, relevant classes or screenings, and the ability to make appointments with specialists. Making these actions easy to perform leads consumers to return to the site, especially “frequent flyers” such as parents with children and those with chronic conditions that require regular treatments.
- Personalization: Personalizing the online experience is key. Patient portal accounts improve the experience by pre-filling forms, maintaining lists of care team members, providing a unified calendar of upcoming appointments and classes, and allowing patients to access their healthcare record and send secure messages to physicians.
The end goal for your online strategy isn’t to increase traffic; it’s to connect consumers to the services they need from your organization. And you can easily do this by making some basic changes to your website.