By Gregory D. Foley, OD, FAAO
An effective web site gives patients fast access to pertinent information, like your phone number and the option to re-order contact lenses. Here are tips to streamline your web site to make it user-friendly.
In modern life, we all work hard and have little time. So when we need answers fast, we turn to Google just as we turned to the Yellow Pages years ago. For that reason, the homepage of our web site is the new front door to our practice. When I redesigned our practice web site one and a half years ago, I created a site that I personally would find easy to search. I thought of the information I most commonly need when searching the web in my personal life and put that information upfront on my practice’s homepage. Here are the key characteristics of my new site.
ROI of a Web Site Redesign
EyeMotion, Multimedia for Eye Care Professionals
Approx. $6,000 one-time fee for revamp
Approx. $1,500 annually for web site system updates and maintenance.
About 20 percent of new patients report that they found the practice via its web site, based on patient history form responses to the question of how the patient found the practice.
Six months to complete, with Dr. Foley devoting six to seven hours per week over the six months to reviewing draft designs and refining.
Greatest Doctor-Owner Challenge
Organizing and getting the photos taken for use on the webpage. Scheduling a photographer around all the individual schedules of employees was challenging. It takes a lot of thought to choose the correct photos to use on the web site because it will set the expected persona of the practice.
I believe the most common reason a patient visits a practice web site is for logistical information such as phone number, address and business hours. With that in mind, the phone numbers of our two offices are at the top right corner of the homepage, highlighted in blue. A shaded box with a map and our business hours is featured in the middle of the homepage. You want the most important information available/visible with the least amount of clicks. I believe you will lose a potential patient’s interest if they have to click more than once to see something vital.
Simple–Not Too Many Buttons
A cluttered and confusing homepage is an immediate turn-off, and it frustrates patients. Accordingly, I opted for a simple five-item index at the left-hand side of the homepage with drop-down menus for each item. For example, the “About Us” option has a drop-down menu with a “meet our doctors” option and insurance information, among other points about our office like our green paperless transition. Beneath the items in the index with the drop-down menu, patients find four key buttons–“order contacts,” “confirm appointment,” “we’re going green” and “find us on Facebook.”
Ability to Fill Out Needed Documents Online
One of the things that makes for satisfied patients and increased spending time in the dispensary is a streamlined office visit. A well designed web site can contribute to a streamlined office visit if you provide a way to fill out needed documentation ahead of time online. The “forms” option on our main menu (the items with the drop-down menus on the left-hand side of the homepage) allows our patients to fill out personal history, review HIPAA-related office policy and fill out vision benefit information. Patients can then electronically return these documents to us ahead of time via a secured encrypted e-mail system. Then, when they arrive they can relax before their appointment, or, better yet, browse our optical shop.
Our office, located in an 1850 storefront on Capitol Hill, has a distinct look–white with bright lime green and blue trimming. I wanted that look to be represented on our web site. So, the site features the same colors and emphasizes our key placement in the community with alternating photos in a carousel at the top of the page of our Capitol Hill neighborhood.
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Gregory D. Foley, OD, FAAO, isowner/partner ofEye Central, PC, inWashington DC and McLean, Va.To contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org.