The Ultimate Planning Guide to Building Your Therapy Website
Ask any marketing professional out there about marketing your practice online and they will tell you that the first step is building your website.
Before you start thinking about Social Media, Google Ads and even Psychology Today, you need to dedicate the time to creating your website or updating the old one you built 10 years ago.
Why do you need a website?
Because your website is your online reception area, information library and a salesperson all in one.
And if you are cringing at the mention of the "s" word (sales), you must know that you are competing against other therapists in your geographic location and online for the opportunity to help a client who needs therapy services.
And, sadly, the quality of your website may determine your potential client's choice of a provider. And they may opt to see a less qualified and accredited provider than you just because that professional has a good and effective website.
Your website is your online reception area, information library and a salesperson all in one.
So now that I've convinced you of the benefits of building a good website, you are probably asking:
How do you I actually build a website that is good?
And because it's such a valid question, I have created this guide to help you plan your website before you start creating it.
This guide will also help you get your ducks in a row, even if you decide to contract a professional or a company to build the website for you.
These are the steps that will help you understand what your website should look like, how it should stand out and help you organize your information in a most effective way to get inquiries and book new clients.
Research your competition. Before you start thinking about the design and the organization of your website, I suggest that you look around for a bit and see what your immediate competition is doing. You need to look at other therapists' websites in your area to see how they present themselves online. And for this exercise, I recommend that you try to look at these websites from a client's point of view. Look at the design and at the information presented, go through all the pages and examine how easy it is to find the relevant information that would make you want to contact that therapists for your first session. Go through at least 5 websites of your competition and make notes on what you like and don't like and why. Check for any similarities between the websites and note them as well. Make sure that you don't look at the advertised websites. Ads are paid and they don't necessarily reflect the quality of a website. Here is an example of my search for a therapist in Bergen County NJ.
List out all the information that you would like to include. If you didn't know where to start before your competitive research, now your head is probably buzzing with different ideas of what you could include on your website. List them out. Don't worry about the information not being organized or appearing repetitive, because you will be editing your content a lot before you settle on the final draft for your website. If you want to keep yourself more or less organized, you can roughly separate your information into these basic categories: - Homepage - Services - About Me - Resources
Collect and create all the visual content for your website. I am talking about photography and graphics. If you don't have a professional headshot yet, make sure you invest in a professionally taken photograph. You will need it not only for your website but also for your social media, future flyers and professional online directories like Psychologytoday.com. There are many photographers out there that specialize in professional headshots. You can find them in your local Facebook groups or through your colleagues. You can find photographers in different price ranges, but expect to invest a few hundred dollars for a professional headshot photo session. I personally worked with a wonderful photographer, Jennifer Bladel, in NJ. And if you also live in NJ, you can schedule a headshot appointment with her and get $40 discount with my code ReddStrategy2020. In addition to your headshot, you need to make sure that you have a logo or a color selection for the name of your company. A professionally designed logo is not a necessity at this point, but if you want to look professional and feel prepared for the opening of your private practice, I would recommend having it designed. You can contract a designer to design your logo and brand identity for you or you can do it yourself with through the Canva app. It won't be the most original design, but the app is easy to use and you will have a professional-looking logo for your new business. The downside of designing your own logo is that as your business will grow and your brand will evolve and develop into a concrete identity, you might have to redesign your logo in the future.
Buy a domain name. Believe it or not, many people leave this part to the last minute and then delay the process of building a website, because the domain name they wanted is not available. Don't delay this process, if you have come up with a name for your private practice, make sure you buy a domain name right away. On average, your investment for an available domain name is $11.99, but if you find that the domain name you want is only available for sale by another person, you might end up paying hundreds of dollars. There are many places where you can buy your domain name, but I mostly use namecheap.com for my domain name purchases (and I have a few). It's convenient, very straightforward and the website has a nice interface that makes it very easy to use, even for non-tech people like us.
Be honest with your self and decide who will build your website. At this day and age, when we have so many user-friendly website builders out there, it's very enticing to want to save your money and build your own website. And I am not saying that you can't do it, because you probably can. There are very inexpensive website builders like Wix, Squarespace, Google website builder, Wordpress, etc. Some are easier to use than others and you will definitely be able to create your own website with these tools. But I want you to be realistic and understand that you will still have to invest in this. Maybe not as much money, but a lot of your time. Good websites are not built in a day or two. They require thinking, planning, research, content development and design time. And after that, you will need to work on your SEO to make sure that your website actually appears in search results. If you are up for the challenge and you want to learn everything about building your website then you should definitely go ahead and work on it yourself. But if you want to use your time wisely and make sure that your website functions as a robust marketing tool, you should outsource the website building task to professionals. You can use companies like Brighter Vision or InSession that specialize in building websites for therapists specifically. Both companies will help you create a professional-looking website with booking features and will work with you on your SEO strategy. With InSession you could even add additional features like a video for teletherapy and payment features. Both services are HIPAA compliant so you will not run the risk of compromising your practice.
Building a website for your private practice becomes much less intimidating and scary when you know what you are getting into. These steps will help you prepare yourself and not go blindly into this process. And if you opt to work with a professional, this guide will help you communicate your expectations in a much clearer way and get the website that you want much faster.
Let me know if you are going through the process of designing your website. I would love to hear what approach you took. Comment or email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.