Can you identify the ten most important seconds visitors spend on medical websites? Is it the ten seconds they spend reading the call to action? Skimming service offerings? Clicking on the “Confirm Appointment” button?
No, no and no. The ten seconds that matter most to the success of your website are the first ten seconds after visitors arrive. Research shows that you have just ten seconds (or less) to grab that visitor’s attention before he or she backs out and heads somewhere else. But if you use those ten seconds wisely, your chances of converting that visitor to a patient skyrocket.
So how do you move visitors from the “Is this the right website” stage to the “Tell me more” stage?
It’s all about user experience.
Why User Experience Matters for Medical Websites
It’s tempting to think of your medical website as just an information source that lists your office hours, services and phone number. But it’s much more than that. Your website is an extension of your medical practice. It lets people know what they can expect from you and how likely it is that you can meet their needs. User experience is a vital part of that communication process. If people can’t find what they want, they’ll assume you can’t help them and they’ll leave.
Let’s look at three key benefits of excellent user experience:
- Lower Bounce Rate. Your bounce rate measures the number of visitors who reach your medical website and immediately leave without clicking on anything. It’s the measurement of how well you’re using those vital first ten seconds. Great user experience drives your bounce rate down, which in turn has a positive effect on your search engine ranking.
- Higher Patient Engagement. Every element of your medical website either contributes to or detracts from patient engagement. That includes the placement of images and text, the size and shape of the call to action button, the colors you choose and the navigation bar design.
- Effective Communication. People at all different stages of consideration will find their way to your website. Does your content communicate effectively with both current and prospective patients?
These three benefits all flow out of a positive user experience—the kind that keeps people engaged, addresses their needs and makes it easy to find what they’re looking for.
Conducting Your Medical Website User Experience Audit
How do you know whether your user experience is keeping visitors on your site or turning them away?
The most effective way to answer that question is to conduct a user experience website audit. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. There are two phases of an informative audit: evaluation and testing.
Free Download: Your Guide to Turning Website Visits into Healthy Patients
Start by making a list of all the pages on your website. On each page, ask yourself the following questions. Remember that your patients may not answer these questions the same way you do, so try to answer from their perspective!
- Is it fast?
Does your site load quickly when someone clicks through from the search results? If not, you’ve wasted your ten precious seconds and that visitor is gone. No one likes to sit around wasting time while a page loads, so make sure load time is reasonable on all devices.
- Is it intuitive?
An intuitive website is one that a user can understand and navigate easily without having to search for information. For example, the visitor should immediately know where to find the information they need, how to contact you and how the site navigation works.
- Is it clear?
Clarity means that the site communicates the right message to the right audience. Do visitors immediately know what your offer is? Do they understand the benefits to them?
- Is it actionable?
What is your call to action? Does the visitor immediately know what you want him or her to do (call the office, confirm appointment or connect on social media)? Does the call to action stand out?
- Is it relevant?
Does the content speak to your patient personas? Can every visitor—both current and prospective patients—find content relevant to their needs?
- Is it designed well?
Does the site design draw people in? Do the images support the content rather than distracting from it? Have you followed good design practices (responsive design, important content above the fold, clear call to action, effective use of forms and landing pages, etc.)?
The second phase of your audit is user testing. Take the time to test your design with a well-designed A/B test or with a group of beta testers. Testing is the most efficient way to learn which designs function best within the context of your target audience. Your visitors don’t know your site inside out like you do, which makes their feedback extremely valuable.
Do you need help with a new medical website design? We’re experts in creating medical websites that prioritize both user experience and conversion. Talk to one of our consultants today about how to give your patients the best possible online experience!