Welcome Online Visitors with a Well-designed Homepage (Web Design 101: Part II)

web design, homepage, practice website, marketing

It’s often said you can’t judge a book by its cover, but make no mistake, visitors to your practice website are definitely judging you by its homepage. Given how quickly consumers click from site to site and how often they fail to find what they’re looking for, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of the page that most often serves as your introduction to the aesthetic community at large.

It is, to put it mildly, a complex challenge. As Lindsay Kolowich of HubSpot puts it,

Your homepage needs to wear a lot of hats. Rather than treating it like a dedicated landing page built around one particular action, it should be designed to serve different audiences, from different origins. And in order to do so effectively, it needs to be built with purpose. In other words, you’ll need to incorporate elements that attract traffic, educate visitors, and invite conversions.

At the same time, however, it also has to answer — with text, visuals, a proposed value proposition — the one fundamental question on every potential patient’s mind: Have I come to the right place? If your homepage doesn’t suggest that the answer to that question is a resounding “yes,” they’re probably not going to stick around for any further “discussion.”

So what makes for an effective homepage? There are, of course, any number of specific design tactics and strategies you can employ (more on that below), but in essence, it comes down to three essential elements. A good homepage gives potential patients insights about:

  • What you do
  • Who you are
  • How to take further action

What you do: Of course, you offer a variety of treatments. But are there services you specialize in or procedures you’re passionate about? Highlight them with great photos — bigger is always better — and to-the-point copy that speaks to viewers’ lifestyle goals, not just their body parts. Tabs, slideshows, and drop-down menus can extend the reach of this highly valuable real estate without increasing clutter or visual complexity, which creates a poor user experience.

Who you are: Let’s face it, countless providers offer the same or similar services that you do. Why should a potential patient choose you? What makes you unique? Is it because you’ve been in practice for 30 years, help regular people regain their confidence or curves, or boast a celebrity clientele? The idea is to give them a sense of your practice philosophy quickly, which, in turn, helps establish your “brand identity.” Whatever that special something is, know in advance that it won’t appeal to everyone, but it will speak volumes to the select few who are most likely to commit.

How to take further action: The question here is so simple that it’s all too easy to overlook: What do you want visitors to your homepage to do next? Click through to find out more about a particular procedure? Fill out a form or request a consultation? Clear navigational elements will facilitate the former — remember, most will leave quickly if they can’t find what they want easily — while a short form and prominent contact details will make it easier for them to “hear” your “call to action.”

Given the above, it should be clear that designing an effective homepage is more than a matter of fonts, colors, and pretty pictures. It’s about elucidating your online personality, showcasing what makes you unique, and helping visitors feel more confident that you’re the one doctor who can help them achieve their aesthetic goals.

In a way, it brings to mind the old quote from “Animal Farm”. With apologies to George Orwell,

All pages on your practice website are equal, but some are more equal than others.

In most cases — and especially when it comes to making a good first impression — the first among equals is clearly your homepage. As for the inevitable exceptions to the rule — as in when potential patients are looking for specific information — that’s a good sign that it’s time to give interior pages a bit more attention.

Next up: Landing pages that turn lookers into bookers

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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