Trends. Those tricky scoundrels that claim to be the Next Big Thing, but could just as easily leave us all feeling embarrassed when our kids ask us what on earth we were thinking (Ugg Boots or Trucker Hats, anyone?).
Medical website design is just as subject to terrible trends as the fashion industry, but design carries deeper ramifications for your medical practice than unfortunate clothing choices do. Poor user experience resulting from bad design can cut into your bottom line by hurting SEO and failing to resonate with patients.
Here’s how to sort through the good, the bad and the ugly—and what you can do instead.
7 Terrible Trends That Wreck Your Medical Website Design
Some website designs are beautiful. Some are baffling. And most are probably somewhere in between. No matter where your website is on the spectrum, you may be tempted to fall prey to a trend.
Not all of these trends are dealbreakers in themselves, but when they’re overused or misapplied, they will crush your user experience––and not in a good way.
1. The Infinite Scroll With a Footer
Infinite scrolling is all well and good until somebody adds a footer. Thanks to the infinite scroll, users get a smooth, seamless experience on content-heavy websites (like Pinterest) without having to click through multiple pages. But when you add a footer, you create a serious usability issue. Suddenly you’ve made it impossible for patients to see your phone number, email signup form, social media buttons or any other content that lives there.
Takeaway: If you use infinite scroll, nix the footer.
2. Parallax Overkill
Parallax web designs like this one from Florida Wellness Medical Group give depth to your page by causing different elements to scroll at different speeds. When used carefully, parallax can create some truly beautiful storytelling designs by using motion to direct your patients’ attention to key pieces of content. The drawback is that you might be tempted to cram too much information on a page, wreaking havoc with SEO and shortchanging your internal link structure. Parallax designs can also cause problems with load speed when overused.
Takeaway: Use parallax sparingly and place unrelated content (like your About page, patient services and testimonials) on separate pages. Not everything needs to live on your home page.
3. Splash Pages
Splash pages are an old technique designed to present specific information to patients before they move on to the main content of your site. They can be useful for patient portal logins or guest wifi access in your waiting area. Other than that, don’t use them. And especially don’t use them to display information that doesn’t provide value to your patients.
Takeaway: Don’t hide your main content from patients with a splash page.
4. Overdone Pop-Ups
Pop-ups may be the single most annoying website design element of this century (or the last one). Your patient is reading through a very useful article on how to prevent flu this winter when—bam!—up pops a newsletter signup form. What’s she going to do? Close that box as fast as possible so she can get back to her article. The truly horrible thing about pop-ups is that they throw barriers in the path of a patient who is already engaging with your site. That’s irritating—and it may be irritating enough for her to leave altogether.
Takeaway: Pop-ups frustrate your patients. Get rid of them.
5. Social, Social, Everywhere
It’s important to promote your social channels, but don’t overdo it. You don’t need to list all 14 profiles that you started and used once or twice back in 2014. Instead focus on the 3 or 4 most popular or most-used channels and keep your design clutter-free.
Takeaway: Highlight the social channels you use the most and work on building those audiences.
6. Autoplay Videos
What’s more annoying than working quietly in your office cubicle and suddenly getting blasted by an autoplay video? Not much. Autoplay videos thrust unsolicited content in front of patients who may only be looking for a phone number or office hours. And even worse, they can eat up data for mobile users.
There is only one way you can use autoplay discreetly, and that’s to incorporate video without sound like Crossover Health does on their home page.
Takeaway: Give your patients a play button. It’s the right thing to do.
7. Hiding Key Content Below the Fold
“Below the fold” has become a relative concept for most designers. With the advent of mobile devices, screen size is no longer a foregone conclusion and that means the fold occurs at different places for different users. Still, filling up the entire top section of your website with a giant image and nothing else can be frustrating for visitors. Patients should be able to immediately tell who you are, what you do, and what you want them to do when they land on your home page.
Takeaway: Make your most important content easy to see.
Has Your Medical Website Design Fallen Victim to a Trend?
Don’t worry. Trends aren’t the end of the world. You can still create a gorgeous, user-friendly medical website design even if you use parallax elements or infinite scroll. The key is to carefully evaluate your patient experience and change or eliminate the pieces that keep people from moving forward toward conversion. If you’re designing a new website, ask yourself whether you want to include that splash page to manipulate patients into taking a certain action or whether you really think it will make their experience better?
If you need help designing a patient-friendly medical website, we can help! Call us today to set up your free consultation with one of our experienced healthcare marketing consultation.