You May Have 99 Problems, But Website Best Practices Ain't One

Website Best Practices

What even are website best practices?

Managing a behavioral health agency is hard. Keeping track of clients, expenses, and staff is difficult. Creating and maintaining a website when there are 99 other things to do seems impossible.

I understand. You have a lot on your plate and dedicating your time to something that doesn’t seem that important or might be out of your comfort zone seems like poor time management.

But, hear me out.

Your website sets the tone for your client’s experience, as well as funders and partners. Think about how many times you’ve been researching a new product or service online and left a website because it was too confusing or too overwhelming or outdated. You don’t want that to happen to you.


When looking at your website you should consider two areas: content and design. Content refers to the information on your site. Design relates to the appearance and the logistics of your website.


To have a good website, you need both. Think about it. You don’t want a nice-looking website that doesn’t have the information potential clients are looking for. And you don’t want to have the answers to every possible question a potential client could have hidden in a web of confusion.

Website Content

You want to make sure that you have the information potential clients are looking for when they visit your website. 

  • About Me
    • You don’t need to tell your life story, but give visitors to your site some background on you, your staff, and your organization. You want them to know enough about you that they feel comfortable during their first visit.
  • Contact Me
    • People need a way to reach you! Go beyond the simple address and phone number. Include:
      • Address
      • Phone number
      • Office hours
      • A map
      • Driving and public transit directions from multiple areas
      • Links to social media profiles
      • An appointment scheduler
  • Frequently Asked Questions
    • Make life easier for potential clients with questions (and for yourself) by making it easy for them to find answers. If their question isn’t on the list, they can still reach out. If it is, you just saved both of you some time.
  • Services
    • List and explain what you do. You don’t want someone calling you for help on something you’re not familiar with. Make it easier for them and let them know what you do.
  • Rates
    • Include how much your services cost and any payment specifications. Be open. It’s frustrating for your potential client to find everything else on your website except how to pay you.
  • Forms
    • Include any forms or policies clients may need to utilize ahead of time.

Not every page on this list is necessary. Include what you think your clients and potential clients will find helpful. And don’t be afraid to reevaluate. If you notice that you’re constantly getting questions on a topic, consider adding it to your FAQs page.  

Website Design

Fine-tuning a website can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. I’ve done some of the legwork for you and compiled a list of five areas you should pay attention to when assessing your website:

  • Color Scheme & Fonts
  • Site Navigation
  • Layout Simplicity
  • Photo Quality
  • Content Accuracy

I’ve even included real life examples so you can see what I’m talking about.

Color Scheme & Fonts

The colors you choose for your website should complement each other and remain the theme throughout the entire website. Remember that color wheel you learned about in elementary school? This is the perfect time to use it. Since that was a while ago for me, I needed a refresher.

Your fonts are another part of your website that should be consistent. Be sure to only use 1-2 Sans Serif fonts and that are in the same family to make it easier to read.  

START Treatment and Recovery Centers utilizes a dynamic color scheme and Sans Serif fonts to make their first page easy to read.

 

START

 

Site Navigation

Generally, visitors to your site should be able to find what they’re looking for in three clicks. To help ensure this, your site must be well organized. Utilize clearly identified tabs and a taskbar so that visitors know where to click. Be sure that your program/services list and contact information is easy to find as visitors want to be able to quickly see if you can help them and how they can contact you. .

Champlain Valley Family Center showcases easy navigation. Their contact phone number is prominently displayed and there is a helpful taskbar that site visitors see immediately.

 

Champlain Valley

 

Layout Simplicity

You don’t want to overwhelm your visitor with too much information or too many things to look at. Use bullet points and write concisely so that your visitor can skim web pages quickly. Don’t be afraid to use white/negative space as it can help your webpages look uncluttered. Put the most important information where the eyes are first drawn (top, middle, and left side of the page).

St. Martin’s Hospitality Center achieves a simplistic look on their homepage.

 

St. Martin's

 

Photo Quality

One of the first things visitors to your site will notice are the photos you’ve selected. This is not the time to showcase your iPhone pictures--make sure to use clear and professional looking photos. Adding pictures of your facility or of patients/staff (with permission) helps prospective clients view your facility as a real place that could help them.

The photo of the young boy on the Children’s Bureau of New Orleans is the first thing that catches your eye when you visit their site. Good thing it’s a quality photo! They’ve also included testimonials with their photos, which further helps site visitors to appreciate their facility.

 

Children's Bureau

 

Content Accuracy

I’ll admit, I care way more about proper grammar than most people do. But that’s because it’s important, which is why you should take the time to edit your webpages. Typos make you look unprofessional and could make site visitors leave your site.

Additionally, make sure to consistently update the information on your website. Visitors to your site could become frustrated if they notice that a page entitled “Upcoming Events” hasn’t been updated in months or years.

Catholic Family Center has their upcoming event displayed prominently on their website.

 

Catholic Family Center

 

Mark It Off Your To-Do List

By taking the time to make small changes and consistently assess your website, you can be sure that it’s helping your agency to make a good first impression on potential clients and other site visitors. With these tips, it will be easy for you to mark “have a great website” off your to-do list. Now only 99 more items to go…

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Topics: Business Process