Your most powerful tool to build your private therapy practice in the digital age is an effective practice website. The Internet allows us to talk directly to potential clients who are seeking mental health information and services. The majority of Americans, 62 percent, use the Internet to find health care information (Pew Internet and Family Life Study, 2009). Few therapists have training in website programing and design, but as technology evolves, more options become available to create a cheap or free website that looks professional and accurately represents your practice. My websites are built on Wordpress, a fairly easy platform on which to build a website or blog. There are thousands and thousands of free Wordpress themes that you can use to customize your practice website. Therapy Sites, another website resource for therapists, allows you to select a template and customize it for your practice based on a monthly fee.
As I've consulted with therapists, developed my own websites, and done a lot of internet research, I've noticed some common mistakes that therapists frequently make when it comes to building websites. These are the top five mistakes I've seen and suggestions for how to fix the problem to make your website more effective.
Mistake #1: Contact information is difficult to find
How to fix it --> Put contact information on every page in a prominent place
Even if you are starting small with a single page site, your contact information is the most important information to feature. After all, you want clients to actually contact you to schedule a session, right? I suggest putting your contact information on every page of your website with a "call to action".
Mistake #2: Feels too Impersonal
How to fix it --> Write website text in first person and include a photo
When potential clients visit your site they should have a feel for who you are as a person. Always include a photo and a personal statement. While your bio can be written in third person, the rest of your site should feel like you're talking to your potential client.
Mistake #3: Too much "psychobabble"
How to fix it --> Focus on benefits of your service in layman's terms
Most potential clients aren't going to be familiar with psychological acronyms or detailed information about every credential and training. Your potential clients care less about your training and more about if and how you can help them. Write your website text with your ideal client in mind.
Mistake #4: Confusing site navigation
How to fix it --> Feature the the four topics above in your site navigation
Your website should be easy to navigate. You don't want your site to be an additional source of stress for potential clients. Visit other private practice therapist's websites and notice what you like and don't like, what works and what doesn't. Put yourself in the client's shoes. What information are potential clients looking for? Here are the top 4 things potential clients want to find on your website:
- who you are (your basic information)
- what you do (services)
- how you can help them (benefits of your services)
- how to contact you (contact information)
Mistake #5: Bad design
How to fix it --> pick one or two fonts and stick with a consistent theme throughout your site
Simple and clean is best when it comes to websites. Unfortunately, many therapists with "do-it-yourself" websites, in an attempt to be creative, end up using too many design elements. When designing your website, keep in mind who you're ideal client is, and let your basic message guide your choice of colors and fonts to create a cohesive feel that represents who you are as a therapist.
Are you guilty of making any of these mistakes on your private practice website? Post the link below and I'll give you feedback about your site.