As a digital services firm that exclusively serves clients in the medical industry, we’ve collected a great deal of insight over the years into medical website design that works. If we were to summarize the current state of web development for the medical industry, we would say that the standards for medical website design are higher now than ever before. People expect websites to be always available, extremely fast and entirely functional on computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Launching a website that achieves high search engine rankings is also more difficult today than ever. With smartphones now ubiquitous in most developed nations, Google’s user base has changed. More than half of Google’s traffic now comes from smartphone users, and Google has refined its ranking algorithms to keep up with the demands of its changing user base. If your website doesn’t deliver what Google believes its users want, you’ll never achieve top search engine rankings.
In this article, we’d like to share some of our observations about successful medical website design. If you’re attempting to build a website for your medical practice on your own, use these three tips as starting points as you try to decide where you should focus the majority of your energy.
For the inexperienced, building a website from scratch can be a time-consuming and often frustrating process. If you decide after reading about our medical website design philosophy that you’d rather not build your own website — or you’d simply like to deploy your practice’s website in weeks rather than months — contact us now for help.
Do you want to build a great website for your medical practice? These are the three features that it absolutely must have.
The most important feature that any website can have is full support for mobile devices. Mobile device users produce more than half of the world’s web traffic. If a mobile device user visits your website and can’t find the information he wants, he’ll most likely become someone else’s patient. Given the massive proliferation of mobile devices, a medical website design that doesn’t serve mobile users adequately will most likely turn more than half of its users away.
Giving your potential patients a great online experience is the most important reason to offer mobile device support, but it isn’t the only reason. Google has also announced that mobile friendliness is now a factor in determining websites’ search rankings. If your medical website design doesn’t already support mobile devices, adding mobile device support can actually improve your website’s ranking on Google.
The good news is that implementing responsive design makes it easy to add mobile device support to your existing medical website without compromising the experience that your website’s desktop computer users have. With a responsive design, one website can serve all users equally well — no matter what they use to access the Internet. Items on your website simply adjust themselves automatically to fit different screen sizes. Modern content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal make the process of switching to a responsive design completely painless. Since a CMS uses a design template called a theme to determine your website’s appearance, implementing a responsive design is as simple as changing your website’s theme.
When we design medical websites, we create the websites’ themes from scratch. One of the problems that you’ll discover when you begin looking at themes for your website’s CMS is that the most popular themes often have thousands of users around the world. If you install one of those themes, you’ll find that your website looks the same as many other websites. Nevertheless, installing a pre-designed theme can shorten the development time of your medical website considerably if you’re doing the work yourself.
When evaluating the performance of a website theme on mobile devices, these are some of the elements to which you should pay close attention:
- Font size: Is the text readable on small screens?
- Links and other tap targets: Are they large enough for you to tap accurately?
- Speed: Do the pages render quickly on a device using a cellular Internet connection?
Optimizing the pages on a website to maximize the prominence of certain target keywords isn’t the only aspect of search engine optimization, but it is one of the most important aspects. When you write a new article for your website, you should almost always have at least one target keyword phrase in mind. The target keyword phrase is the search phrase that you hope people will use to find your article. When you write the article, using the target phrase — and other words and phrases closely related to it — in the text can help Google understand the topic of your article and index the article accordingly.
Writing keyword-optimized text is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your website’s content will appear on Google’s results pages for the right search terms, but the body text of your articles is only one aspect of your website that you can optimize. Although explaining every aspect of technical SEO is beyond the scope of this article, it is important for a medical website design to provide support for the following SEO features:
- Adding alt text to images
- Creating custom meta title and description tags for pages
- Adding the nofollow attribute to links to prevent PageRank leaking
- Ability to disable archives in content management systems that would otherwise result in the generation of duplicate content
- Ability to customize the URLs of pages
- Ability to tell search engines not to index certain pages of your website if desired
Fast Loading Speed
More than half of the people who visit your medical practice’s website will leave within just 15 seconds. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to make a great impression — and if your website takes too long to load, people won’t bother reading the text at all. To create a medical website design that does a truly great job of converting visitors into new patients, it isn’t enough to write persuasive text — your website needs to load quickly on computers and mobile devices.
Fast Hosting, Content Delivery Network
There are several ways to build a website that loads quickly on all devices. One way is to use an extremely fast web hosting service. If a hosting service has a high-bandwidth Internet pipeline and fast servers, it’ll deliver quick page loading times to users. Utilizing a content delivery network can further improve a website’s speed. A CDN stores copies of a website’s static files — such as pages and images — on servers around the world for extremely fast delivery to users.
Dynamic Page Caching
Today, many websites run on content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal. A CMS stores a website’s text, images and other content in a database for superior organization and easy retrieval. With a CMS, there’s no need for each page on your website to contain code defining how the page looks. Instead, a CMS uses a template to determine your website’s appearance. When a user views a page on your website, the CMS fills in the template by querying the database to find the content specific to that page.
Suppose one article on your website is so popular that thousands of people view it each day. Each time a user views that article, your website’s CMS queries the database several times. If your server has to handle too many database queries simultaneously, the database will respond slowly to requests. As a result, all users will experience slow page loading speeds. Dynamic page caching is a technique in which a website’s CMS creates static HTML versions of pages. When a user requests a page, your website automatically provides the cached version to avoid querying the database. Caching can greatly enhance website performance by making pages load almost instantly.
A website with page caching on a fast hosting service will have excellent performance characteristics — but the standard that a typical user has for website performance is higher now than ever. Google also uses website speed as one of its many ranking factors, so every improvement that you can make to your website’s speed isn’t just good for your users — it can also help your website receive more traffic from Google.
A fast server can deliver a cached page to a user extremely quickly. It is possible to improve speed further, though, by reducing the amount of code in the page. When we create medical website designs, we use every optimization technique available to eliminate any unnecessary code without removing a website’s crucial features. Some of the techniques that we use include:
- Adding special features directly to a website’s code whenever possible rather than installing third-party plugins
- Using lossless compression to reduce image sizes without affecting quality
- Compressing HTML and other files for faster download speeds
- Reducing or eliminating usage of resources on external servers
Contact Crystal Clear Digital Marketing today to get started!