Your website serves as your autism treatment center’s home on the internet. Many autism patients and their families find their treatment providers online, so your website needs to make a good first impression. In fact, studies show that users form an opinion about your website within 0.05 seconds of visiting it!1
Your website should be designed to give new and existing patients the information they need while building trust and establishing authority. Here are some key components to consider when a designing a user-friendly autism treatment center website.
Your top priority must be ensuring your entire autism treatment center website is HIPAA compliant. Protected health information on your website needs to be encrypted so only patients and their doctors have access. Many major web hosts now offer HIPAA-compliant systems for medical providers.
Compliance laws can vary by state, so check your local regulations when developing your site.2 For example, laws regarding parents’ access to their teenage and adult children’s health records differ from state to state, and your treatment center’s website should comply with all applicable local regulations.
Concise and Accessible Content
Searching for a new autism treatment center can be stressful for patients and their families. When looking for new therapy providers and programs online, they want their questions answered quickly. Complicated medical jargon and long, dense paragraphs are off-putting. Write your service pages, blog posts, and other content with your target audience in mind.
Don’t fall into the trap of writing complex content hoping to show off your center’s expertise. The most effective content will strike a balance between authoritative and accessible. Writing should use clear, simple terms and employ a warm, empathetic tone to create a welcoming experience. Including clear calls to action on every page gives your content purpose and encourages potential patients to schedule an appointment.
Lay out your text in short, concise paragraphs that are easy to absorb. Brainstorm the questions your potential patients are most likely to have and write with those in mind. Structure your website so your answers to these questions are easy to find. Examples of content could include general information about autism spectrum disorder, specific information about the therapies and services you offer, or the types of insurance you accept.
Easy Appointment Scheduling
Scheduling their first appointment can be very daunting for your patients and their families. The easier it is for visitors to your website to find your contact information or schedule appointments online the more likely they are to convert.
Your autism treatment center’s contact information should be displayed clearly on every page of your website, so visitors have access to your phone number and email without having to click around for it. Provide a direct contact form on your website where potential patients can ask questions and make replying to these questions a routine part of your marketing efforts.
An online scheduling system is helpful for both new and returning patients. Many people prefer to manage their schedule online rather than talking on the phone. A recent study showed that 94% of respondents would be more likely to choose a new medical provider if they offered online booking options.3
Digital scheduling systems make finding a time that works for the patient much easier. And your patients can quickly make an appointment at any time of the day, rather than being limited to calling during office hours.
Fast and Intuitive User Interface
A good user interface (UI) is a necessary component of any website, because users want websites that run quickly and are easy to use. With that in mind, simple is best when you’re designing your UI.4 When pages are too cluttered, they start to feel overwhelming.
Your navigation elements should be easy to find so users can move from page to page seamlessly. The menu bar is one of the most important parts of your UI and should be readily accessible from every page on your website. Also consider ease of use around other UI elements on your site, like search bars and drop-down lists.
User interface testing is a great way to get honest feedback on your website from potential patients and their families. There are several platforms offering user interface testing programs where you can get written, audio, or video feedback on your website’s UI. Don’t forget to use A/B testing to compare multiple versions of your site.5
A/B testing is an effective way to catch potential problems you might not have found on your own. Ideally, complete your user interface testing before your site launches so you have time to fix any issues.
Since so many searchers today browse the internet on their phones or tablets, mobile-friendly design is a must-have. Your website should function the same no matter what device the patient is using.
Most website templates today are already designed with mobile devices in mind. But if you have an older website, you may need to work on mobile-friendliness. Keep in mind that to run well on mobile, your site must be fast and responsive.
There are certain design ingredients you must keep in mind when designing a mobile-friendly website. For example, both your buttons and your font sizes need to be larger on mobile so readers can see them. Avoid pop-up chat boxes and other distractions that make the site feel cluttered on a mobile device. A clean, simple design is best for mobile so potential patients can find information more quickly.
Again, use short sentences and paragraphs. As we discussed earlier, this helps with readability. But on mobile, the stakes are a little higher, because your website must be easy to scroll through vertically.
This is another area where usability testing is helpful. Running mobile-specific usability tests helps you pinpoint problems with your mobile site that might not show up on a desktop.
Effective Graphics and Imagery
The placement of photos and graphics throughout your site has a huge effect on the overall user experience. When developing your site, carefully consider how the imagery works with your text and other elements to create a cohesive user experience.
For autism treatment centers and other medical practices, simple images and design are best. The images need to enhance the information you are providing, rather than distract from it. Your images should tell a visual story that engages and welcomes potential patients.
High-quality photos are essential for every website.6 These photos set the tone for the site and influence visitors’ first impressions. If you don’t have crisp, clear photos of your medical team and facility, consider investing in a professional photography session. We recommend using only authentic, real photos of your autism treatment center and staff. Stock photos almost always feel fake, and that’s not the message you want to send to potential patients.
Graphics, fonts, and colors should flow together seamlessly on your website. Each of these elements is integral to your brand image. Patients associate the imagery you choose with your treatment center. So carefully consider the emotions and feelings you want to inspire. To communicate a calming, comforting ambiance, choose soothing colors and gentle graphics that don’t overwhelm the eye.7
The purpose of your site should be to inform and educate. Visitors who come to your website may be learning about autism for the first time and looking for answers to their questions.
A library of content not only helps both new and existing patients learn about autism and the therapies and care options available to them, but also positions your autism treatment center as an authority in the field. Text articles, short videos, and infographics are the most successful methods for connecting with your audience.
An effective website is the cornerstone of a successful digital marketing strategy. Dreamscape Marketing can help you create a website that builds and maintains your ideal patient base. Contact us today at 888.307.7304 to schedule a strategy session!
For a list of references, please contact us.