Medical websites rely on a clean, responsive, and user-friendly design to assist current patients, grab the attention of prospective visitors, and remain relevant online. But what does it mean to have a user-friendly website, and how can you check — or update — your page to meet the needs of your audience? Read on for more information about this often-overlooked element of a user’s experience.
1. User-friendly medical websites keep visitors on your page.
When it comes to medical websites, it’s expected that you’re going to have a large amount of information to present in a small amount of space. But that doesn’t mean you have an excuse to open the floodgates and dump blocks of jargon-heavy text onto your homepage; instead, you should look for ways to cleanly and clearly show your reader how to find the information he or she needs.
Successful medical websites, and the information they contain, rely on the idea that people have relatively short attention spans online; if a new visitor is unable to find your medical practice’s address, for instance, they might just exit out of your website altogether and go to a competitor with a clearer homepage. For this reason, you should seek to use clear headings, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs to break up larger chunks of information into easy-to-read (and easy-to-skim) sections. Use a drop-down navigation menu at the top of your page to avoid clogging up valuable page space with links to other parts of your website.
2. Check your compatibility — in more ways than one.
Odds are, at least part of your audience is trying to access your website on a smartphone. Have you recently checked how your medical website functions on mobile browsers? Is your website still accessible — and is it still navigable? People might be accessing your website en route to visit your practice, which means you want to make sure that your contact info is easily accessible. Additionally, your user’s mobile experience should still provide the same resources and services that the full browser website provides. If this is not the case, make mobile functionality a priority — it’s a straightforward fix that can dramatically impact how people perceive your brand while searching for medical providers on their phones.
Additionally, your medical website should be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This means that your website should be making full use of things like alt tags, which text-to-speech software uses to describe photos to people with impaired vision. Put periods in abbreviations, which is necessary for individuals who are accessing your website with a screen reader — as Mashable points out, a screen reader will only recognize an abbreviation with periods between the letters. Otherwise, the word will be read phonetically, which is confusing to someone trying to decipher any abbreviated names for services your practice may offer.
For a better idea of how you can improve your medical website for users with disabilities, consider downloading and briefly using an accessibility software like GoogleVox. This will give you an idea of how you can improve your website and preserve functionality — all at no cost to you. As a medical professional, you should know your audience, and should have an idea of how to tailor your material to meet the needs of your clients; consider ways to make their online experience a positive and memorable one, not a frustrating ordeal that leaves a bad taste in their mouths.
3. Don’t overlook the simple stuff.
The following is a list of seemingly small changes that can dramatically change the way your user experiences your medical website:
- Your medical website’s logo should always be in the top left corner of your website, regardless of whichever page within your website you are observing. This is the easiest spot for people to see as they flip between different websites, and also serves as a sort of landing beacon; make your logo clickable to bring the user back to the homepage, and they’ll be able to use your logo as a handy and consistent navigational tool.
- Add a search bar that is easily to locate and simple to use. This is doubly important if your website is info-heavy, and if you want users to be able to locate content related to specific questions they may have.
- Keep your copy simple. The text throughout your website should be concise and as jargon-free as possible, depending on your audience. If you’re trying to reach the largest possible amount of users, keep your medical website’s verbiage straightforward and to the point, and make use of headers to easily organize your information for skimming eyes.