Is your healthcare website letting you down?

Be honest – are you presenting your best side to your audience? At Solcroft, we spend a lot of working hours looking at healthcare websites and, to be blunt, we’re often amazed at what we see. Lacklustre design, lazy stock photos and less-than-convincing copy are rife among organisations that should be trying to inspire confidence. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to see if your site is guilty of any of these clangers, and how to fix them.

As always, we’d be more than happy to cast a professional eye over your site and give you some ideas on improvements. Contact Stacey Jackson to find out more.

Dire design

You’d make an effort to look presentable when meeting a patient, so why should your website be any different? Yet we often see poor design reducing the impact of a brand, or worse, having a negative impact.

Today’s audiences value trust, and if you don’t appear credible then they’ll go elsewhere. But invest some time in developing a look and feel that demonstrate your authority, and you’ll reap rewards. Colour, layout and images should all be scrutinised to support your brand identity.

Use layout intelligently to guide your audience through your content in a way that suits your objectives. Consider what you want them to do at each point, and point them in that direction. Improving user experience on your site can make a significant difference to your audience’s perception of your brand.

Your choice of colour will be the first thing to strike your audience – nearly 85 per cent of people consider it the most important factor when choosing a product – so use it to your advantage. White is often connected with health services and innovation, due to its association with purity, cleanliness and virtue, so is a good choice to indicate safety. Blue denotes comfort, relaxation and trust, and is also popular in the healthcare and pharmaceutical market.

Image choice has a huge impact on your audience, and many organisations get this wrong. Consider how to get across the emotional interaction between staff and patients, and the feelings that patients may experience at that point in their journey. Images of staff and equipment are unlikely to reassure. Investing in bespoke photography will achieve the best results, but if budgets necessitate stock photography then take particular care over the details. There are many instances of British companies using American stock photography, which shows incorrect uniform colours and looks unconvincing.

An image can be worth a thousand words, if you’re trying to demonstrate relationships across a range of variables. Successful data visualization makes it easier for your audience to make a decision, whether that requires a simple pie chart or a multi-layered infographic. Conversely, poor visualization can make your content harder to understand.

Weak content

It’s easy to slip into jargon when talking to patients, both face-to-face and on your website. Scrutinise your language to remove unnecessary jargon, and speak to patients with an authoritative yet reassuring voice that inspires confidence.

Bear in mind how much your audience knows about medical terminology. You won’t want to define every condition if they’re familiar with your topic, but you also don’t want them to be confused. A leaflet promoting services to GPs can have more terminology than a patient flyer, but less than a specialist research paper.

Always remember that your audience are people, not cases, and speak to them that way. For example, the term ‘condition’ is often better than ‘disease’, ‘sickness’ or ‘illness’. Avoid terms that may depersonalise, label, stereotype or stigmatise, such as: ‘afflicted by’, ‘sufferer’, ‘suffering from’. Better alternatives are: ‘people living with’, ‘people with’, and ‘person with’. Defining people by their illness can easily cause offence.