Private practice websites are not created equal. Two owners in the same field likely possess different design preferences. Business strategies also differ across industries, locales, and a myriad of other factors—all leading to unique content needs. A number of big-picture web design considerations, however, are extremely relevant and valuable for any private practice.
The following concepts serve to help any aspiring private practice owner play a bigger role in a website’s color and font decisions and give better feedback to designers during the development process.
Website Color Schemes
Many website templates arrive pre-packaged with a handful generic color options and fonts. Don’t take the easy way out. Picking a color scheme and different fonts doesn’t need to be rocket science, but a little thought and research towards basic design goes a long way to creating a unique website.
Rules & Best Practices
A good rule of thumb for websites is to emphasize white space (i.e. the background) with one primary color and no more than two complimentary colors. An example for fans of the color blue is to choose a middle-of-the-road shade for logos, headings, etc. with a single darker and lighter shade serving as accent colors for elements like links, sidebars, and buttons.
All three colors need not be blue; perhaps one accent color is a complimentary shade of green. Avoid picking clashing colors, but otherwise few bad choices exist.
Inspiration for Color Combinations
Need help? Plenty of designers and artists alike find inspiration from user-submitted color combinations on Adobe’s Color CC website. Sort by popularity, most used, or random—even tweak existing color schemes.
Remember to choose three of the five colors for the website. Overkill is never a good thing and additional colors should only be used for subtle background colors or one-off instances where a certain element really needs to pop out of the page.
Many businesses agonize over colors and the potential to influence visitors. The majority of studies, however, show there isn’t a “best” color for making website visitors feel warm and fuzzy; perceptions over colors are largely based on individual backgrounds and associations.
Still, a few takeaways might be helpful:
- People of both sexes tend to consistently choose brown and orange as two of their least favorite colors
- Blue is almost always a safe bet
- Purple is a polarizing choice that’s popular with women, but unpopular with men.
Font knowledge ranges from seasoned connoisseurs to those who wouldn’t know the difference between Arial and Times New Roman. While font combinations are typically pre-loaded with a template, a little digging goes a long way and sets unique websites apart from their generic counterparts.
Rules & Best Practices
A tried and true policy is to select a serif font for headings and san-serif font for body text. The combination isn’t an absolute rule, but rather a safe place to start. Also try to avoid old-fashioned fonts best suited for paper or extra-bold fonts for body text.
Finally, consider the small details: text shouldn’t be justified in digital formats and font sizes need to be larger than what people are used to consuming on traditional Word Documents. The sizing specifics will vary based on the weight and size of a specific font, but typically 14 or 16pt works better on the eye than 10 or 12pt.
Exceptions to the Rule
Font gurus are likely scoffing at the serif for headings and sans-serif for body suggestion, and rightfully so. While the rule is safe and perfectly unique once different fonts are selected, exceptions are extremely common.
A commonly-used exception is to make the title or logo a third font. Note that many websites also present a complimentary serif font for the body or introduce a third font for specific text such as block quotes or call to actions. A safer bet is to use bolding and italics for emphasis rather than introduce a third font, but attention to detail and a little practice enables most people to create a number of great pairings.
The Bottom Line
Font and color scheme choices for private practice websites aren’t necessarily different than other industries. Yet understanding how to find and review different options is still important to set your practice apart from the competition and streamline the development process with a web design team.
The potential to target unique audiences with a kid-friendly font or color aimed primarily at women, for instance, is the type of attention to detail needed in better web design.