One of the core parts of your private practice marketing strategy is likely your website. Your website is often a client's first introduction to you and all the fabulous things you can offer them, right?
It is the place where you can show off your fancy degrees, impressive sounding theoretical orientations and maybe even wow them with an award or two that you got for being your awesome self. It'll have them banging down your door!
Or not so much.
I'm going to be very gently, honest here.
As therapists, our websites often suck.
Like, totally and utterly suck.
I can say this, because I have had website that have utterly sucked.
Our websites SHOULD be about our clients.
Their pain points. Their needs. Their desires.
They need to hear that you understand them and can totally help them. They need to see themselves reflected back.
However, what they usually see is the "Wheeeeee, Look at Me!" show.
Guys, I don't know what happens to us when we start designing our sites.
In our work, we are kick ass empathizers. We can spend our entire day in other people's worlds, exploring, understanding, connecting. Our clients leave our offices feeling like there is at least one person in this world that gets them.
You would not know this based on many of the therapist sites out there.
So many website are
"I think this...."
"I do this......"
"I, I, I........"
We need to do better if we want clients to actually feel like we've created a site for them in mind, rather than creating a site that reflects our own amazingness.
Here are some tips when creating your website.
(Disclaimer - I am not a website designer. There are people out there who are infinitely more knowledgable about this topic. I’m just a girl, who’s had crappy websites and wants to save you the pain of website shame).
5 Tips For an Epic Therapy Website
1. Follow the 80/20 rule when writing your copy.
80% of copy should be about the clients and 20% should be about you.
Talk to your readers directly in your copy ("You feel overwhelmed" rather than "I help people who are feeling overwhelmed"). You have thousands of hours of clinical experience under your belt; what are the words and phrases that you hear again and again. Use those words on your website.
2. Use your About page to talk about you, but still write it with your client in mind. I started mine off with
I understand what it's like to feel overwhelmed, to face unexpected life stressors and to struggle with finding balance between self-care and the care of everyone else.
I’m talking about me, but still very much talking to my ideal client. Yes, I go on to mention my credentials, my training, my approach to therapy, but it’s still very much couched in terms of what my client needs.
3. Put your picture on the homepage.
People want to connect with an actual human being.
My first version of my site had a picture of my couch. May I present exhibit A.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a totally awesome couch. However, visitors to my site aren’t couch shopping. They want to see the person who will be sitting across from them and listening to their pain.
My next version of my site got upgraded from couch to an actual human being. However, that human being was not me.
It was a very happy looking stock photo model. May I present exhibit B.
Doesn't the stock model look like a lovely therapist?
Now don’t get me wrong, I still use the occasional stock photo. However, I now put my happy face front and centre on my practice site (and on this one if you didn’t notice).
People want to connect with real people.
They want to connect with you.
Apparently I’m a slow learner, because when I completely overhauled my website with amazing copy that spoke to my ideal client, my homepage image was a marble, surrounded by other blue marbles. I found the image soothing as it was blue and blurry and totally spoke to me.
Unfortunately, the feedback that I got on the images was “it looks like a lonely marble.” May I present Exhibit C.
Um, so I couldn't find the file (I probably deleted it in shame, but this is a representation of the lonely marble.)
The sad marble experience leads us to our next tip.
4. Get feedback on your website.
Get feedback from people who love you enough to give you honest feedback.
Have them do the 2-second test; look at the site for only 2 seconds and then shut it down. What do they remember? What impressions did it make?
If they thought they were on a landscaping site due to all the pictures of trees, it may be time to do some edits.
Ask your kind website reviewer to return to your site and have them explore. How easy is it for them to navigate? Does the flow of your website make sense? Do they have a clue what you are talking about or do you need to drop the therapist jargon down a notch?
5. Make your location REALLY EASY to find, preferably in the header. Potential clients aren’t going to bother hanging around on your site if they have no clue where you are and won’t go digging for that information.
Designing a website can be incredibly overwhelming since most of us aren’t website designers! Most of us don’t get it right the first time out of the gate, even if we have the help of professionals. View your website as an evolving, growing entity. It’s actually a bad idea to design a site once and then leave it up for all of eternity (SEO tip: Google prefers sites that get updated on a regular basis!).
Lastly, don't have website shame if you've made a some of the common therapy website mistakes. We all make them. We then go and look at other therapist's websites and repeat them. This is all a learning process!
Want to learn about even more private practice mistakes that I have made and get the tools to avoid them? Sign up for my free 3 part video series!