Many private practice owners see a competitor’s website—or perhaps one in a completely different industry—and think “wow, I want one like that!” Others simply know they need a better version of their current website or (in the case of new private practices) want to hit the ground running with the best design possible for their needs.
Consider these common questions:
How does a non-web designer begin to think about the different options available for website templates and services?
Do those free website services advertised on television really work?
Should I get a website similar to many of my competitors or try something 100% custom and new?
While private practice owners likely feel inundated with options to build or redesign their website, the number of reliable and quality options are in fact pretty limited and straightforward.
The following guide helps shed light on the different website templates and services available to private practices irregardless of whether the strategy is DIY in nature or to hire a competent web designer. The reality is most services don’t need a web designer to push a finished website out the door and can be considered for most budgets and circumstances. The finished product, however, will be vastly improved with the help of an expert.
“Free” Website Services
A free website sure does sound good! A handful of companies (e.g. web.com) offer free websites with a catch. A cookie-cutter website is often created free of charge, yet monthly fee is required to keep the website up and running. Plenty of the “premium” features, which add to the monthly costs, often come standard with DIY or web designer options.
In short, the services aren’t really free and lead people to believe monthly fees for websites are standard operating procedure. Crunch the numbers and most business owners soon realize paying a web designer a one-time fee to design a better website—along with nominal fees for hosting—is a much better investment than paying pricey and indefinite monthly rates for a “free” service offering a limited and generic product.
The Bottom Line: Avoid at all costs.
Wix.com and SquareSpace Websites for Private Practices
Wix.com and SquareSpace are two services geared towards the DIY crowd who want a sleek website and feature flexibility, but can’t quite get excited about rolling up their sleeves and navigating those tricky WordPress plugins.
Both options genuinely offer a good visual product out of the box, but can be greatly helped by bringing on board a web designer to implement and polish site details. Consider the fact both are technically dummy-proof and can be navigated with enough time (i.e. trial and error), but a web designer can create a better website on either platform in half the time. Where is your time best spent?
While both services offer attractive packages on the surface, note the monthly fees do cost more than purchasing your own hosting for a WordPress site. The other drawback is a biggie: Features are limited and private practices often find themselves wanting as their needs evolve over time.
Websites limited to a handful of static pages, a blog and contact form, and perhaps a few wrinkles like event calendars or media galleries will do fine, but flexibility is lacking for unique ideas down the road.
Between the two services, Private Practice Launcher prefers SquareSpace. The websites simply look better and a feature by feature comparison at the available price points almost always favors SquareSpace.
The Bottom Line: Great for private practices on a budget, but feature limitations and lack of scalability provide challenges for online marketing, engagement and potential ROI opportunities down the road.
WordPress Websites for Private Practices
Nearly 60% of all websites using a content management system run on the WordPress platform—and for good reason. The platform is extremely scalable and offers a plethora of free add-ons (i.e. “plug-ins” in WordPress lingo). It’s also user friendly enough for non-designers to publish blog posts, edit content and even make smaller design changes.
WordPress is the preferred platform for most web designers who build content-rich websites for clients and should be high on the list of any private practice owner.
Pricing for WordPress websites are minimal and only require a hosting plan much cheaper than the monthly fees associated with the likes of SquareSpace. The platform is less DIY-friendly, however, and a web designer is likely needed to really make the most out of the technology.
The benefits are numerous: Integrating advanced online marketing features such as exit-intent pop-ups are a breeze. So too is creating a members-only section, community forum or highly customizable e-commerce solutions. The platform is trusted by millions and can scale as your private practice grows and encounters new challenges.
The Bottom Line: Preferred by Private Practice Launcher and countless other web design teams. Offers unparalleled scalability and feature sets, but likely needs the involvement of an expert to realize its full potential.
Custom Websites and Common Misconceptions
Everyone wants a custom website that stands out from the crowd. The reality is few websites are 100% custom—especially at price points relevant to the overwhelming majority of private practices. The ability for a great web design team to take an existing framework and make the finished product an embodiment of a client’s brand greatly reduces the costs of creating an entirely unique website.
In other words, it’s okay if the “built from the ground up” approach is in fact built from the first floor up—just make sure your web designer is honest and prices the project accordingly.
Everything from color schemes and fonts to the shadows of buttons and site margins all play a role—along with content—to make two sites starting from the same framework entirely different to all but the most trained of eyes when they roll off the assembly line. A web design team with a large portfolio and examples of wildly varying finished products is proof in the pudding your website will too be unique and likely at a justifiable cost.
Contact us for more details on building your perfect private practice website.