If you're responsible for a hospital's digital marketing strategy, you may be looking for ways to update it so that it is more modern, user-friendly, and in line with your marketing goals. After all, those are key parts of the best hospital website design. But where should you begin? What kind of design best practices should your hospital be aware of?
Website design for hospital and medical organizations can be challenging. Hospitals often have a large amount of information to present on their website, and struggle to do so in such a way that does not confuse or overwhelm their visitors. Additionally, many hospital websites were created several years ago and no longer conform to today’s design standards, making them incompatible or difficult to browse on mobile devices and smartphones.
Call 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about WebFX's web design services, or keep reading to learn a few best practices you should keep in mind when updating your hospital's site.
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Why do hospitals need web design standards?
Each industry actually has its own set of web design standards. For the most part, they are very similar. However, hospitals must be mindful of the fact that a large majority of those visiting their website are experiencing an emergency, or will need to find information very quickly prior to a visit.
Because of this, hospitals should aim to follow a set of general standards, which we’ll discuss below. Hospital websites should absolutely:
- Be very easy to navigate quickly
- Present the most commonly accessed information and files from a central location
- Be fully accessible on mobile devices
When you are researching web design for hospitals, keep these needs in the back of your mind. Without these standards, your website may not be able to quickly and accurately serve those in emergency situations—and that may lead to them visiting another healthcare provider.
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Hospital website design best practices
Let’s explore some best practices for hospital website design in a little more detail, starting with one of the most important aspects: the navigation and menus.
Simple, clear navigation
Navigation is one of the most crucial aspects of hospital web design. Because a majority of those browsing your site will be in a hurry, and looking for information in a hurry, you will need your site navigation to be clear, concise, and easily understood. If it does not meet these criteria, visitors are likely to leave your site to find another—and thus go to a different hospital.
Ideally, your website should have a menu of about 5-6 “top-level” items that sits at the top of your homepage. When the visitor hovers over each item, the menu can then expand to show additional “sub level” items, all of which can be clicked for additional information.
For example, your menu may have items like “Visitors,” “Patients,” “Services,” “Staff,” and “Forms.” When hovering over “Patients,” the menu would expand to show choices like “Forms for New Patients,” “Inpatient Procedures,” “Emergency Information,” and so on. This keeps the menu concise and the homepage clean, but offers a logical organization that can be followed by any visitor.
Clear organization will keep visitors engaged with your content and encourage them to spend more time on your website. This can lower bounce rates and send positive signals to Google, which can boost your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Responsive, mobile-friendly design
Website design for hospital and medical organizations should also conform to today’s mobile-friendly standards. If your site is not responsive—that is, if it does not automatically resize to display its content without pinch-zooming or excessive scrolling on a mobile device—it should likely be redesigned.
Responsive design is a virtually future-proof form of web design that allows your site to dynamically adjust to display properly on browsers and devices of all shapes and sizes. It keeps patients and their families, who are often using their phones in a hurry, from having to scroll and pinch-zoom to find your hospital’s phone number or address.
Investing in responsive design ensures that your hospital’s site provides a consistent experience to all visitors, both now and in the future, no matter what devices are released.
As of 2015, Google officially announced that more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. This, coupled with Google’s (also 2015) algorithm update that takes mobile-friendliness into account when ranking websites, means that you simply must have a mobile-optimized website. Failing to do so means you’re moving forward with a website that’s not living up to its full potential.
If you’re not sure whether or not your website is mobile-optimized, you can check individual pages using Google’s “Mobile-Friendly Test” tool.
Clear hours, location, and contact information
Your hospital’s website should place your operating hours (for specific departments or offices), full address, phone number, email address(es), and any other contact location in a clear location on your site. This information could be accessible via your homepage, in a “Contact Us” link in your menu, and perhaps a sitewide footer.
By making this information easily accessible and clear, you’re ensuring that those coming to your site in the event of an emergency can come to your hospital quickly, and without fumbling around with your menu or additional pages to find your phone number or other information.
It’s important to make sure your contact information is the same across all instances, as well. Any Google+ listings, social media pages, and even different pages on your own website should all share uniform contact, location, and schedule information.
Don’t “bury” information on your site—doing so will make potential patients less likely to choose you for their healthcare needs.
Accurate, welcoming photography and videos
A hospital website should certainly have some photos on it. However, it’s best to skip the inexpensive stock photos of smiling doctors and nurses wearing untouched scrubs: these don’t give an accurate impression of your hospital, and may inadvertently “cheapen” your website.
Hire a professional photographer to capture a few photos of your staff helping real patients, posing in front of your hospital, or simply working at desks or speaking with each other. Overlay them with patient quotes or your hospital values on your homepage or other main pages. This will provide a more accurate picture of your hospital, and the kind of care that potential patients can expect.
These types of pictures also convey a much more personalized experience to potential patients. They work to dispel the stereotypical, sterilized, white-walled image that most people have of hospitals. They show potential patients that your hospital’s staff is made up of real people who enjoy their jobs, and who will provide the best possible care to everyone who walks through the door.
Video has been dubbed an important marketing strategy, and your website can feature videos that showcase your facility. You can include a tour of your hospital, as well as interviews with staff. This will help to give potential patients a clear picture of your hospital, and encourage them to trust you for their medical needs.
People can be very picky when it comes to medical services, and working to establish a more informal, personal relationship with potential patients is a fantastic way of standing out compared to other hospitals in the area.
Showcase tour brand
What makes your hospital different from other hospitals in the area?
Your website should tell your story and highlight what makes your facility unique. Do you specialize in a certain procedure? Let people know. Do you give back to the community? Share stories of how your hospital has impacted the surrounding area.
Use your website to demonstrate what makes your hospital stand out from the crowd. This will make people feel more comfortable choosing you for their medical procedures.
Highlight your staff and treatment plans
Revitalize your doctor profile pages with new content and fresh design.
Along with photos, you can include brief descriptions that include information about education, areas of practice, and even personal tidbits, such as hobbies.
Additionally, you can spruce up your treatment pages with informative content. These descriptions can feature awards, patient testimonials, and research advancements. You can even include video clips that demonstrate how a particular procedure works.
Don’t forget to highlight what makes your facility unique, as well as innovative treatments you provide.
Easily accessible forms or patient information
Finally, patients who are pre-registering for a procedure, coming to your hospital for an appointment or checkup, or enrolling in a program or study will likely be asked to fill out paperwork beforehand. You can streamline the process by making these forms easily accessible on your hospital’s website.
One way to do this would be to add a “Common Forms” section to your homepage, or a “Forms” section in your navigation or menu. Additionally, you could add links to these forms from the pages where they are the most relevant —for example, new patient forms could be linked from a “making an appointment” page.
Also, hospital patients should be able to easily access their information, medical records, visit details, billing, and so on through your website. Even if you use a separate portal or online system for this, make accessing it as easy as possible: add a link to it from a dedicated part of your menu, and build a landing page that explains the system, how it works, and how to enroll or access it.
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You need an updated website design for hospital marketing
We’ve covered several best practices for your hospital’s web design. However, one final thing to keep in mind is that marketing your hospital or healthcare facility also depends on a quality website design. If your site is not professionally designed and up-to-date, you may have trouble making an impression on your visitors.
Ultimately, this can detract from your hospital’s marketing efforts and reduce the number of satisfied patients.
Contact WebFX for your hospital web design needs
If you’re searching for a reputable web design agency to design a new website for your hospital, look no further than WebFX. As the nation’s leading web design company with over 500 satisfied clients, and experience in the healthcare design industry, WebFX can create a site that follows these best practices, ranks highly in search engines, and increases your patient acquisition rate dramatically.
We know the elements of the best hospital website design to make you stand out among the competition. Contact us online or give us a call at 888-601-5359!