Sit down, relax, stay awhile…
Rolling out the Welcome Mat to your site visitors is an art and requires some creativity. Color, layout, content, and other elements like embedded video and/or audio can all work together to give your site an intriguing feel that will make your visitors want to linger.
Consider choosing a website builder that has prefab templates, as these can be extremely user-friendly. Try out any and all the website builder’s templates to get a feel for how each design could be used to express your unique identity and practice. Once you’ve picked a design, start playing with the colors, fonts, and images. Finding a website builder with attractive designs allows even the self-avowed technophobe to design like a pro.
As you develop the look and feel of your site, remember that the goal is to keep visitors on your website long enough for them to connect with you and your practice, and even develop a kind of virtual rapport with your prospective clients. In addition, you want to establish your credibility as a professional, thus increasing the odds that a prospective client will take the next step and pick up the phone and call you (or email you) for an initial consultation or appointment.
Ready to jump in and start designing your site? Here’s some friendly do’s and don’ts to help you stay on the right track:
Do: Make your site visually attractive
Make sure that any photos you include coordinate with your site’s color scheme. If you can include a professionally-done photograph, that’s a bonus. One of our customers recently shared that she had several contacts from her web site where callers mentioned that her photo conveyed a reassuring compassionate quality that attracted them to her. Regarding the verbiage on your site, remember to delineate different topics into different paragraphs or assign them their own pages on your site so that visitors aren’t repelled by a wall of text
Do: Use original content.
Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo are programmed to detect (and penalize sites that use) copied, unoriginal content, while promoting sites that feature original work. One of the best ways to get their attention is to include unique pages that cannot be found anywhere else on the web.
Do: Make it interesting
Adding a video to your site is a great way to liven up a page. In general we recommend uploading your video files to an external web hosting service, such as YouTube.com or Vimeo.com. Posting to these external websites can help to promote your website, especially if the posting links back to your site. It could even become a referral source. Furthermore, sites like YouTube and Vimeo also allow you to embed your video directly on your website, so for visitors to the website it looks just as if it was hosted directly there.
Do: Make it professional
Include your credentials (such as MSW, PhD, LCSW, LMFT) in your site title. This not only enhances your credibility, but can also help your search engine rankings in instances where prospective clients search for a life coach or counselor based on these credentials. If you have a professional logo, upload it to your site. If you have Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, or other professional profile, include a badge for those affiliations on your site. Not only can this enhance your credibility, it can also boost search engine rankings as visitors click on those badges and are redirected to your GoodTherapy or Psychology Today profile.
Do: Make it informative
Include just enough text on your Welcome/Home page to create enough interest to get visitors to click on About Me and/or Services Provided pages, but not so much that they lose interest. Clearly list your areas of specialty on a “Services Provided” page. Do you provide life coaching, career coaching, counseling? Let your visitors know!
Do: Rotate Content
Rotate or update content, as this can keep the search engines interested in your site, as they tend to downgrade sites that remain unchanged over time. You don’t wan to update the content too often, as that doesn’t give search engines enough time to see it, but updating content roughly once a month should be about right. The “Hot Topics!” page we provide is a great example of rotating content, as we automatically update that page on all our customers’ websites about once a month. Embedding a blog or an e-newsletter is another great way to generate interest. Giving away helpful tips or information can leave visitors hungry for more.
Do: Include a call to action!
Invite your site visitors to pick up the phone or send an email. The lower you make the barrier to contact, the more likely that site visitors will make that first effort to reach out and get in touch.
Don’t: Overwhelm your visitor with too much content.
Especially avoid cramming too much content on a single page so that a viewer has to scroll way down to read to the bottom, as chances are they won’t; rather they’ll just either skip to another page on your site or leave your site altogether.
Don’t: Include garish colors in your design.
A calm and serene, harmonious, or vibrant color scheme will make visitors feel welcome. Think about how your text color looks on the background. Is it easy to read?
Don’t: Forget the ultimate goal of bringing more paying clients to your practice!
Include a call to action to the site by setting up links on different pages to steer visitors in useful directions. For example, you can add links all around your site back to your Contact Me or Appointment Request page. If you create enough interest on a page, then when a visitor is done reading it, clicking on the link to the ‘Contact Me’ page should seem natural.
Thomasin H – CoachingWebsites Support
Email any questions to [email protected]