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Planning and Designing Your Business Website By Maria K Todd


Planning and Designing Your Business Website

You won't maximize your potential for success in business of any kind, without a web presence. 88% of prospective patients who need your goods and/or services first turn to the internet to research your brand, your reputation, find your address, map your location, and find phone numbers and contact methods along with operating hours, prices and financial and insurance plans you accept. Having even a professional website that's well-designed from a user experience offers you a way to be found, and can explain what's different and compelling about you, your business, and move you from commodity to spectacular and can open up new markets and expand your business at considerably less expense than print or broadcast media advertising. But it is never as "cheap" and "easy" as most business owners first assume. While website design software has evolved to enable anyone to create their own website for a personal blog or cooking recipe site, a healthcare provider website must be planned with specific intention. It is a crucial anchor point for your professional marketing strategy and its functionality and appearance is all a part of the execution of the strategy. You don't need to know coding to develop a website but if you expect it to represent your brand and align with your reputation, then appearance, functionality and content along with professional hosting that provides rapid upload and page rendering is critical for a professional look that's easy to find, and show your practice or healthcare facility in the best light. While I don't build the actual website, I help clients in the healthcare industry to plan, design, and specify the necessary functionality that aligns with a comprehensive traditional and digital marketing strategy that meets regulatory compliance for healthcare marketing. In the case of healthcare services and personal advice, marketing and advertising is very different than retail and other service products. Marketers face tougher scrutiny by regulators and consumer advocates because the prospects are assumed to be "vulnerable" and can easily taken advantage of by unscrupulous advertisers that promise far more than they can actually deliver. Here's my step-by step guide to creating a successful healthcare business website.

WHAT'S THE PURPOSE OF YOUR WEBSITE? Your business website serves as a space to provide general information about your practice, health facility and a direct platform for e-commerce even if transactions are not directly paid through the site. The first order of business is to explain who you are, why you are in business, and how someone benefits from doing business with you.

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Planning and Designing Your Business Website

When working with a consultant to plan and design your internet marketing strategy, most professionals with any experience working with clients will as you to respond to a questionnaire called a "Project Brief". If you aren't asked to do this step whether as a form to complete or a narrative you create, then run! You are probably working with an amateur that can waste your time, money, and destroy your reputation - assuming your website is even found in an Internet search. A typical brief for a healthcare website will ask some initial questions that may be easy to answer or can catch you off guard if you haven't considered these preliminaries:

ABOUT YOU & YOUR BUSINESS  Who are you? Have you been recognized in your industry for something specific?  How are you different from your competitors?  How would a prospective client or patient that found your site and knows nothing else

about you describe what you offer or advertise in relation to what they need?  Why are you in business?  Which problem(s) do you solve?

REPUTATION AND AUTHORITY  How many people have this problem?  Why should a stranger who just found your website choose you over all the others who do

what you do and started doing it long before you?  Without having ever met you in person, why would they say you are better than your competitor in a casual conversation with a friend or family member or a coworker?  How many patients already chose you to solve it for them and what were their outcomes?  Have they posted comments or testimonials and given permission to share them?

FUNCTIONALITY  What will visitors do while visiting your website? Read something? Fill in forms or enter

biometric or other data to be used as a personalized decision-making tool? Learn something they didn't already know? Make an appointment? Call you or email you? Find out how to pay a bill? Compare your prices, offer or value to someone else?  Will these visitors have specific primary and secondary medical conditions? Which ones? Are these rare conditions or quite common?  What value will they find on your website that they won't find elsewhere?

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Planning and Designing Your Business Website

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS  Will they be in too much pain or be too stressed to pay attention to details?  Will they be visually impaired such that they cannot see certain colors, hues or tints?  Will they be auditory impaired such that they cannot hear video and audio content?  l they be auditory impaired such that they cannot hear video and audio content?

Will they be paralyzed such that they cannot easily enter keystrokes?

HOW THEY WILL FIND YOUR WEBSITE  What language do they speak?  How do they use the Internet?  Do they use keystrokes or QR codes?  Which search engines do they use?  If they cannot access Google or YouTube to find you because those search engines are

blocked in their country, how will you overcome this hurdle?  How and where do they consume content?  What social media platforms do they use and for what purpose?  What keywords might they use to try to find a solution for their problem?  When they enter those keywords and phrases or questions, what other options will they be presented?  Which of your competitors is paying for search engine placement (AdWords, etc.)  Will they already know your name? Your URL?  Are there any anomalies to your URL (strange spellings? abnormal hyphenation?  Do your competitors have websites with identical names but with different tlds?  Does your URL use any foreign language terms?  Is your URL in a foreign language that they cannot spell?  Is your URL memorable and distinct?  Are there variations in spelling due to idiom (eg., British spelling vs American spelling)?  Does your website URL spell something silly (e.g., "Anu's dental" without the apostrophe reads "anusdental" - not the most compelling visual in the mind!)  Is your URL short, descriptive, and does it contain your keyword phrase?  Will people search the web know exactly what is on your page by looking at your URL?  What other websites will they visit and trust more than yours? Why?  To which sites will your website presence and reputation be compared?  What content will you share? Have you drafted it already?  Has it been professionally edited and corrected?  Is any part of your content copied from any other website, including those you may own?  Will search engine crawlers be able to determine when using their proprietary algorithm a favorable relationship between terms and concepts in your content?

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Planning and Designing Your Business Website

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER/PROSPECT  What brand of watch do they wear? What does that symbolize to them?  What kind of car do they drive? What does that symbolize to them?  In what city do they live?  Are similar services to yours available there?  Why don't they want to use them instead?  What resistance will they face from friends and family or colleagues they trust if they

choose you as their provider? What talking points will they use to overcome that resistance?  Do they travel frequently?  How far are they likely to travel to visit a healthcare provider?  How physically challenging will that travel be for them?  How will they get to your location? By car, bicycle, plane, train, public transportation, car and driver service?  Will they be at any significant medical risk if they choose to travel to you?  Should they travel to the elevation or atmosphere where you are located?  Are there irritants /air quality, heat or cold temperatures that would cause them to suffer if they visit you?  Are these problems seasonal?  How long will their journey take?  How much do they weigh and what do you know about their body habitus?  Will they travel alone or with a companion or full entourage?  How much does it cost to travel to you?  What class of service are they likely to purchase when they travel by air or by rail? economy class, business class, first class, private jet?  What class and category of accommodation will they prefer and why?  Does the cost of travel fluctuate seasonally?  Will they need a visa or passport to visit you?  In what range is their household income?  With whom do they live?  In what kind of housing do they reside?  Where do they eat most meals? In restaurants or at home?  How do they use money and credit?  Do they carry debt and credit card balances?  Do they pay their credit card balance in full each month?  Are they insured?  Does their insurance cover the services you offer for the condition(s) they wish to address?  If not, are they financially able to pay for their services in full along with any travel and accommodation costs for the duration of their stay when they visit you?  Do you participate in their insurance plan or preferred provider network?  Is the service they want investigational, experimental or unproven?  What other choices do they have to access treatment, diagnosis, consultation, second opinion or clinical trials?

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Planning and Designing Your Business Website

YOUR DOMAIN NAME  Have you researched your preferred domain name?  Is it available?  Will your name infringe on someone else's existing copyright?  If your preferred name is owned by someone else but not in use, have you researched

what it would cost to purchase it from them?  If owned by someone else, have they owned it but not used it for six months or longer?  If another website owner is using your trade name and you have it trademarked, are you ready to proceed to assert infringement and and attempt to claim it? Remember, trademarks aren't global!

DOMAIN HOSTING  Will you use a dedicated server or a shared server that could also service porn and other

problematic websites on the same server?  Will you use a content distribution network (CDN) to enhance loading performance and speed?  Will the host provide automated nightly backups?  Does the hosting service you wish to use offer a "sandbox" area to design and edit your content and test functionality in private, hidden from public view?  How responsive is their technical support staff? Can you access help around the clock?

FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS  Does the buyer or patient live in a country where trade sanctions could interfere with

your transaction?  How will people pay you?  Are customers likely to pay online or by check or in person or by wire transfer?  Will their online payment cross state lines?  Will their credit card or debit card work in your country?  Will the amount they pay trigger a referral to their country's central bank?  How will you deal with currencies other than your local currency?  Is the type of service or product you sell allowed by your electronic payment system?  What is the percentage of each transaction you are willing to concede to the electronic payment system?

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Planning and Designing Your Business Website

PRIVACY, SECURITY & MAINTENANCE  How will you use and protect visitor data?  Is your privacy policy and terms of use been drafted?  Are the policies and procedures in place to execute your privacy and security policies?  Do you have budget to purchase insurance in the event of a data breach?  Will your site feature secure socket layer (SSL) protection?  Will all renderings of your website be secure? (Mobile, tablet, desktop)  How will you test security?  How will you back up your website in the event of a failure or breach?  Does your web host offer rigorous security and breach prevention?  Does your template offer rigorous security and breach prevention?  Do your plugins offer rigorous security and breach prevention?  Do your forms offer rigorous security and breach prevention?  How frequently will you check your website for operation and security threats or updates

and security patches?  Are you able to manage and maintain the site yourself or will you need technical support?

YOUR CONTENT  How freqently do you plan to update content?  Who will help with routine editing for grammar, spelling, headings, layout, images, and

other technical functionality?  Who will edit and test page titles, H1 and H2 tags, URL addresses of pages and posts, META tags, images alt text, first paragraphs, links anchor text and redirection, last paragraphs, and calls to action?  How will you avoid potential errors in content such as keyword stuffing and overuse?  Which long keywords and unique keyphrases would you like to "own"?  Do you have trademarked terms you'll use? Have you registered them?  Have you already designed or commissioned your logo design and artwork?  How you chose your fonts, colors, theme, and images?  Has a branding guide been created?  Are your images proprietary and custom images or stock photos used on other sites?  Will you use video or audio (podcasts)?  How will you manage professional pre- and post-production and editing for video and audio?  In what language will your podcasts and video voiceovers be recorded?  Do you expect visitors to require translation to find value in your content?  Is the content of a quality or informational level they will likely share with others?

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Planning and Designing Your Business Website

RETROCTIVE CHARGEBACKS  Have you drafted your financial policies and procedures for online financial transactions?  Has your attorney reviewed these?  How will you handle refund requests?  What if a refund request arises because of an unproven allegation of wrongdoing or

professional liability or malfeasance, misfeasance, non-feasance, or faulty workmanship?  How will you manage dispute resolution?  Are certain services you peform or treatments you offer prohibited in other countries?  If you request an up front deposit that is too large, how will you account for and refund the difference?  If you request an up front deposit that is insufficient to cover treatment or other costs, how will you collect the remaining balance?

TESTING  Who will test your website to make sure it works on all browsers necessary?  Which browsers will you focus on?  What devices will your visitors use? (Smartphone, tablet, desktop?)  What analytics system will you use and what information will you glean from the data

gathered by the analytics program?  How often will you review the analytics?  Who will peform maintenance and technical support for you? What will it cost?

CROSS MARKETING  How will you reach and attract customers through social media marketing?  How will you drive social followers to your website?  What non-promotional engagement will you cultivate and how?  Who will design your web presence on social media business pages and groups?  Who will maintain your copy and content and advertising and promotional strategies and

tactics for social sites and social marketing?  From where will the graphics and image assets come that you will use on social networking sites?

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Planning and Designing Your Business Website

Conclusion & Next Steps If any of the questions in the above outline were a surprise or had never crossed your mind prior to reading this e-booklet, then it stands to reason that you may benefit from engaging the services of a marketing professional and website design strategist to flush out all the above details prior to hiring a technician to build your website for you. The strategic aspects of website design and marketing strategy for a healthcare business are very specialized. The professional fees of an experienced, specialized healthcare marketing strategist and design consultant are much higher than the hourly rate charged by a technical specialist who will do the programming for your website to make it show up on the internet and work when someone enters your URL. Specialists who design and build websites are paid far less for their services because the creative work is done for them and they set about making your creative plan come to life and maintain the functionality. By the same token, content editing is also not a task you should assign to a marketing strategist. Professional editing services are usually billed at about 1/10th the rate charged by the strategist. If you ask the wrong person to do certain tasks, you stand to waste lots of time and money and end up greatly dissatisfied in the performance of your site and the presentation of your brand on the internet. Your business will suffer because your visitor experience will be less optimal than it could be. Hire and manage consultants and technical specialists to your advantage. Let each do what they do best and don't be afraid to limit what each one does rather than pay them to work outside their domain area of expertise. If instead, you had all the answers but simply hadn't put them down on paper, this e-booklet still delivered its intended value. You now know that you don't require the services of a consultant or marketing expert. Get your answers organized and reduced to writing. Use what you've written to discuss these points with your technical web design consultant, editors, art director and production team. The work each one delivers will be mechanical and their task will be less time consuming and ultimately less expensive.

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THANK YOU We Welcome Your Feedback. feel free to get in touch with us for any feedback or questions. +1 (800) 727.4160 mtodd@mercuryadvisorygroup.com

Profile for Maria Todd MHA PhD

Planning and Designing Your Healthcare Business Website  

This helpful checklist is yours free. Use it to plan and design your website before you chat with a programmer or technical specialist. W...

Planning and Designing Your Healthcare Business Website  

This helpful checklist is yours free. Use it to plan and design your website before you chat with a programmer or technical specialist. W...

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