First of all, I’m not sure I need to do any real convincing here, but people are searching for therapists online.
Even if someone was referred to you through word-of-mouth, chances are they are looking you up online. That’s why your online impressions matter. If you owned a storefront, a brick and mortar business, there’s no way you’d never mow your grass, clean your floors, or fix your broken window. Yet for so many therapists they’re leaving their online storefront and first impression looking like a rundown business
Think about how you would feel if you are about to make any expensive purchase and you look up a company online and you can’t find any social media channels or their website was old, outdated ,and broken, many people would think twice about moving forward.
This is as simple as it’s gotta look good. Apple couldn’t be the brand it is today with a broken or outdated website. Take any top consumer brand in the world, you won’t be able to find one with a bad website. There’s no excuse to not have a great experience and first impression online.
I often get presented websites from therapists asking, is this good enough? What do you think? Should I build a new one? That answer is dependent on a lot of factors, but like I said before, your website is the foundation and probably the most important piece of the puzzle of your online presence. In this next section I will lay out some practical knowledge in the world of the website.
Twenty years ago you absolutely had to hire a professional to code you a website, and that was your only option. However, in the past 10 years or so it’s only become easier and easier for anyone to have a great looking and functioning website. And that is what’s most important: Does it look good and provide the necessary user experience to turn a lead into a client?
Every sensible DIY website-building option out there is possible of providing that, but they’re different in other notable ways. The best way to think about them is as on a spectrum “control”. This spectrum of control shows how much control you have over the functionality and design of your website.
On one end of the spectrum you have a platform like Squarespace and on the other end a custom WordPress site., Other platforms exist on the spectrum in between, like Wix and Webflow along with many others.
Now there are many other correlating factors when it comes to the amount of “control” you have on the platform, most notably, “cost to build & maintain” and “ease of use/design” (aka how easy it is to screw it up and make it look awful…)
For example, Squarespace makes it super simple for most people to design a great looking site with a great user experience right out of the box. Using one of their templates, you can create it on your own, and you can definitely manage it on your own. But the downside is that you don’t have much control. That strict hold that they keep on your options and variations makes every squarespace site look like a perfect little house on a block where every house looks the same. They purposefully give you only a few options to make it easy and look great.
With Wordpress, you’ll find the exact opposite. On this platform, you start with a blank canvas, so you better know what you’re doing. It gives you unlimited freedom in making all the good or bad choices you want. This would be like you building a custom house with your own hands.
There are exceptions and different ways you can go about it, but to have a fully functioning and good looking Wordpress site you want to have it built by a developer (which is expensive). They can set it up where you have some control over pieces of your site but for any serious changes you’ll need to pay the developer to go in and make those changes. And since Wordpress is an open source system, that means you’ll need to have regular maintenance to prevent plugins or pieces of your site from breaking (where Squarespace on the other hand, is a fully enclosed & proprietary system that you won’t have any reason for developer maintenance).
This makes Squarespace great for someone on a budget who doesn’t have a need for full customization. It can make a great site with smart planning of the basic functionality. Where Wordpress is the obvious choice for large corporations with a big initial and monthly budget with a need for lots of different, unpredictable functionality.
Now of course there are options in between on this spectrum:
Wix is a lot like Squarespace except with more control. They offer other apps and plugins and lots of design control. But I can often tell when a therapist sends me their Wix site to review without even asking - because it’s messy. The spacing is all wrong, there are errors on the mobile site, all because it’s very easy to do bad design. Now of course, that’s no knock on Wix, that was their intention, to give more control. But often that just leads to a messy design and experience.
Webflow is an option that I personally love. Webflow is the option that we choose to use when someone wants a custom designed site that looks unique. But here’s the catch: it’s very difficult to use. It uses the same framework a developer would when coding a website, but in a visual way. I would only trust this platform if it’s being designed by a professional. We choose this over Wordpress because we feel like we can design better in it, and the initial and monthly cost is much less because there’s no need to hire a developer.
Now, what would I recommend for therapists… For those who are a 1 person business or a small group practice I would always recommend something simple to use. Something that you can manage on your own and you won’t be stuck with a site that’s expensive and cumbersome to maintain. You want to focus on the important stuff, which isn’t fancy functionality but a well planned out layout and content strategy. For a lot of you, this can mean Squarespace, for others who want something that looks more custom, Webflow.
First, having lots of content and having a “clean design” aren’t mutually exclusive. Many therapists say they love their “super minimalistic and clean website” but what they don’t understand is the amount of SEO they are missing out on without having any content for Google to find. The key comes to how you organize that content.
The entire user experience should be about giving the visitor what they want. So, let’s take your homepage, for example. This is what a lot of users are seeing for the very first time when they visit your site. You don’t want your homepage to be a page full of all of the information you could possibly want to throw at the visitor, because guess what, no one is reading it.
A home page works better when it operates like a directory, because it’s not true that your website visitors don’t care, you just don’t know for sure what they care about. My opinion is that the homepage experience should be a very visceral and visual experience.
Someone should know within an instant what you do and how to take the next step the moment they load that webpage. This means you need to be careful with overloading them with paragraphs of text. If I were to quickly scroll down your site, am I able to find what I’m interested in? Each section on your homepage should represent a service you offer, or something you think someone might be interested in and understand in seconds; therefore utilize images, headers, and clear buttons.
When your page functions like this, people can navigate quickly to what actually interests them. Take someone with struggles with anxiety. As they quickly scroll down your site they see a header titled “Anxious?” with a clear button titled “Learn More” then it brings them to a website page that answers every question you think they might have about anxiety, laid out in a very logical and easy-to-read way. Or say someone is simply wanting to know if you take insurance. Having all those basic questions under a “Getting Started or FAQ” section gives them the answer they need.
The bottom line is: having tons of content is good for SEO, potential clients and more. Just don’t put it where it doesn’t belong.
Now that your website is live and ready to go don't forget some of the most important steps!
Optimize For SEO
Now you need to make sure each page is properly optimized for SEO. Check out our Therapist's Guide to SEO to see what you should be doing.
Setup Google AdWords and Search Console
Create your accounts and add the necessary connections to start tracking your traffic!
It’s harder for someone to send a loved one to treatment or sign up for marriage counseling when they aren’t sure what they’re signing up for. Having a site that people can browse that clearly lays out what you provide, what a client can expect, and photos of your business can make people feel a lot more comfortable about taking the next step.
Although websites oftentimes require a considerable investment, we guarantee that it’s an investment you won’t regret. It’s not very often that a business creates a website and sees no benefits. Whether you’re creating a website to have a more professional appearance or you’re looking to provide in-depth information to customers without having lengthy phone conversations, you’ll be glad that you spent the effort to create a page for your practice.
Theory About That specializes in creating stunning websites for counseling centers, treatment programs, and practices that specialize in therapy. Our team has experience in the industry and is knowledgeable about effective marketing strategies that can help take you to the next level by improving results. To learn more about Theory About That’s custom website development, you can visit our website or contact our team for more information!