A good website is one of the most important tools an online therapist can have. Your professional website is where you can refer prospects and clients to, and it’s often the first impression prospects get of your services when they find you in searches online. That’s why we recommend you spend some time making it as effective as possible, so your web visitors don’t leave before they get a chance to understand how you can help them.
With our short attention spans and mass consumption of online content today, people don’t spend more than a few seconds on websites they don’t see the point of reading further. Therefore, first impressions and ease of reading your content matter a lot on your website, particularly on the home page where people are likely to land first.
The reality is that even when people know they might be in the right place, they may not be bothered to read through all your writing if they don’t find the answers they’re looking for straight away. The even sadder reality is that by far, most business websites out there haven’t designed and written their home page in ways that make people want to read more immediately. This same fact, however, is also a massive benefit to you who choose to spend time getting it right, because it’ll mean you have an advantage over your peers and competitors when you do nail it.
We’ll take you through some valuable guidelines on what to include on your home page to make readers want to know more. There are two major aspects to deal with, the first one being more about making a connection with the visitor, and the second being about guiding them towards making contact with you.
Make readers know you can help them
You have a personal issue you struggle with, search online for someone who can help you, click on a link, and a website pops up on the screen. What are you doing at that exact moment? Your eyes are searching for signs you’re in the right place. You want to know if this place can solve your problem. How can you help these visitors to know this?
Let the website visitor know within 2 seconds that they’re in the right place to get help for their specific issue. For example, you can place your business name and description prominently and keep it clear and short so it’s evident what kind of therapy you provide. You can use imagery to illustrate clients’ frustrations or type of therapy you offer. You can be creative about it, but it’s essential you have a clear, short written description displayed somewhere where visitors can see it straight away, so they know they’re looking at a suitable website.
When they know they might be on the right track, they will continue to look for signs you can help them. An engaging description of how you can help them - focusing on their situation - will go a long way in doing so. A description listing your methods and qualifications in great depth could put some readers off. When you tailor your writing, it helps to write so you speak directly to your potential client, rather than talking mostly about yourself and your practice. A quote from Theodore Roosevelt famously goes: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This definitely applies to business websites. Our guidelines on writing a good profile description will be useful to read in this context, as it’ll give you advice on what prospective clients are looking for.
The elaborative home page copy (the bit that describes in more detail what you’re about) can convince readers you understand exactly how they feel, as long as it’s well-written, focuses less on yourself and more on their particular problems. To make a longer text appealing to read, your first paragraph needs to capture your target readers’ attention, enticing them to read more and more. By using “you” as if speaking directly to readers, you’ll engage them more deeply in your message. This way, your visitors will feel you’re addressing their core issues, and they will keep reading because they’ll know you truly understand how they feel.
The colour scheme and visuals of the website should be visually pleasing and go well together. Visuals will give a lot of signals that people will start to associate with your practice, so it’s a great opportunity to decide on how you brand yourself visually. Being clear on this will also make yourself stand out in people’s memory. Oppositely, an unappealing, unintuitive and hard-to-look-at design could make the user experience more tedious, so users could decide to leave your website before they even get to explore beyond the home page.
Give visitors a very clear path to follow
Once your visitors are convinced you may be able to help them, they’ll be open to taking the actions you lay out for them. This is your amazing opportunity to guide them to e.g. get in touch or sign up for your newsletter, or any other action you prefer. We recommend working on the following things:
The path of action after reading about how you can help visitors should be clear to see and address. For example, after a description of how you can help visitors with their problem, you can state exactly what they can do next, e.g. “Are you stressed? Take this test and find out now” or “Call us on xxxxxx to hear more about how we can help you”. Such statements and links are classed as Call To Actions (CTAs) in marketing speak and are important to include on websites designed to convert prospects into clients.
Visitors shouldn’t have to search more than a second for the things they’re looking for, so the layout and position of menus and important links need to be clear for when they decide to explore certain things. It’s worth asking for other people’s opinions on your design, as what seems natural to you could be unnatural to others. You will also be more used to your own website, so navigating around it is likely quicker for you than someone who hasn’t visited it before.
Your home page is the first impression many people will get of you, unless you regularly link to your blog from your social media accounts (in which case, your posts might do most of the work for you) or people search for specific terms leading them directly to your sub-pages. Prospects who search for someone like you will likely visit your home page first to see what you’re all about. They may have different questions, e.g. maybe they’re interested in your pricing, background or services from the start, but many still prefer going to the home page first. A well-designed home page can work wonders for your conversion rates. Even the smallest tweaks can make the difference between a phone call or lost opportunity.
If you’re still lost when it comes to web design and how to approach this, we’ll cover this more in future articles (please get in touch with your questions - we’d love to hear from you!). Some of you may be lacking the time and ideas needed to build a good home page, in which case hiring a professional web designer who knows about marketing too can work wonders. A home page is not just about good design, so do emphasise the marketing side of design when you’re looking for a web designer.
Our team at PlusGuidance is committed to making you the best you can be online, so you can focus on your amazing client work. Our articles on how to build other sections on your website will help you improve your website even further, so stay tuned for more on this.