Maybe you’re considering the build of your first mental health website, or maybe you have one already but nothing happens – nobody knows it’s there, or if they do, they click away within seconds. It’s all very well having a website, but if doesn’t help you to meet your overall objectives, what’s the point?
In previous posts, I highlighted Six Reasons for Mental Health Professionals to Develop An Online Presence, and laid out Six Steps to Maximising Your On-line Presence So That Sufferers With Mental Health Issues Can Find You. Now it’s time to look at each of those six steps in isolation, starting with step one – creating an effective website for your mental health practice or organisation.
The Content of Your Website
Arguably, the most important aspect of your website is its content. None of the other aspects are of any use if you don’t supply your visitors with the information they are looking for in a way they understand.
Keyword research will help you to establish which words people are using to search for information related to your service. If there are low numbers of searches for the information you are planning to provide, then there is likely to be a low number of people visiting your website. So carry out some keyword research before creating your content to establish what people are looking for. Then use the keywords in your text, so that people know they have come to the right place.
Also, consider the language you use and the style of your writing. Your choice of words can affect the overall tone of your website. I often see websites for counsellors and psychotherapists, where the language used demonstrates their grasp of the English language, extensive vocabulary, and creates the sense of intelligence one might expect from a psychologist or psychotherapist. Ask yourself whether this is the image you want your visitors to take away from their experience of your website. Will they understand everything you have explained? Will they feel you are approachable? Try to keep your terminology simple, so that people with no experience of psychological philosophies can understand.
Search Engine Optimisation
If nobody knows your website is there, then no one will visit. Search engine optimisation is the science applied to making sure your website ranks highly with search the engines. Using keywords in your text not only reassures your visitors that they have come to the right place, but also enables the search engines to figure out what your website is all about. Search engines send out crawlers to scan your website for information so that they know which websites to display when people search for information.
When writing the content for your website, you need to bear both your target audience and the search engines in mind. There are also a number of steps your website designer can take into order to maximise the search engine optimisation of your site. I’ll go into more detail on those and how to use keywords most effectively in separate posts. For now, making sure that you choose your keywords wisely, that you use them in the text of your website, and that you employ a web designer that understands and implements search engine optimisation are key to creating an effective website.
Think About the Use of Colour
Colours need to be taken into consideration whatever line of business you’re in, but I believe it’s especially important for mental health professionals. Colour is very powerful for creating an overall mood. Think about the objectives of your website. Do you want visitors to feel as though they have arrived at a healing environment, a calming environment, or an uplifting environment? What colours do you associate with these different “moods”?
Maybe you want your website to appeal to a young audience, so although you ultimately have healing in mind, you may also want to consider colours that are fashionable and appealing to a younger audience. If men are your target audience, then you may want to avoid using colours that tend to be associated with females.
It’s sometimes tempting to just go for your favourite colour, but have your target audience in mind and consider colours that will appeal to them. Try to create the feeling they need when they are looking for mental health support.
Symbolism & Imagery
Using images that express emotion can help people to quickly identify whether or not they have arrived at the kind of website they are looking for. But if the overall objective of your website is to uplift people, you may want to display images of happy people rather than images of people who look as though they are suffering from depression.
You may want to use images that convey the message you believe your service will offer. Blossoming flowers, uncurling leaves, and rays of sunlight all convey growth, development and improvement for example.
Navigation & Ease of Use
It’s important that people can find their way around your website easily. Again, this holds true for any business. People are impatient when surfing the internet. If they can’t see what they’re looking for immediately, many visitors tend to click away and look somewhere else. If someone is suffering from a mental health issue, their cognitive functioning may be diminished, especially if they are at a crisis point, which makes navigation and ease of use even more imperative.
Make sure the individual pages on your website have clear headings that act as signposts and guide your visitor to wherever they need to click in order to contact you, make an appointment, read articles, get tips etc.
Summarising Effective Website Design
If you’re going to invest the time and money in creating a website, you may as well make the most of it and ensure that your website is effective in helping you to meet your overall business objectives.
The key take away facts from this article are to consider who will be visiting your website, what information will they be looking for, how can you present it to them in the best way, and how can you optimise it for the search engines, so that people can find you.
If you would like further support with various aspects of your website, or with the entire project drop me an email, I’ll be glad to help.