The internet can be a wonderful source for almost any question, including questions related to health. Based on a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, 72% of internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year.
With such a large number of people seeking health information online, we were interested in discovering what design elements are necessary to include in health care websites.
After surveying and analyzing a variety of health care websites in the St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia area, in addition to a few other midwestern cities, the following elements have been determined as MUST haves for Health Care websites:
Basic color theory suggest that warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) are associated with urgency, energy and possibly panic while cool colors (greens, blues, purples) are associated with calm and soothing sensations. In the health care industry, designing websites with cool colors, especially blues, is very common. By visually creating a calm and soothing online environment, visitors to your site are likely to trust your business more than a business with an alarming visual appearance. So remember, cool colors evoke calm and friendly emotions while warm colors may worry the visitor.
If you manage a health care website, current trends suggest you ditch the clutter and go for a simplified look. Being bombarded with too much information in an unorganized fashion may scare people away from seeking health advice or care from you business. Allowing for easy user navigation and a clean visual appearance could mean the difference between a new patient or a lost opportunity.
A majority of the health care websites we surveyed in the mid-west tend to use simple, flat design logos made of uncomplicated shapes, occasionally resembling people. The most common place for any company to place their name and logo on their website is in the upper left hand corner. Considering Americans are taught to read from left to right and top to bottom, the top left hand corner is a good placement choice because that’s the first place people typically will look on a page.
A mission statement is important for any company to abide by, but especially in the health care industry where an individual’s well being is sometimes at stake, it’s important to communicate a promise to the consumer in order to build a trusting relationship. By prominently displaying a mission statement or another type of promise on or near the homepage of the website, a potential patient can already begin to understand the values of your company and the unique way you can benefit them.
People reach out for health care help and support for a variety of reasons; sometimes they are extremely sick or hurt and sometimes they are just taking precautions. Regardless of the physical, emotional or mental conditions people are seeking your help for, it’s important to display friendly photography on your website. A lot of websites show people being active to promote healthy lifestyles. Sometimes patients are obviously sick, but you can show them being taken care of in a friendly way. Visitors to your site want to see doctors with smiles on their faces and patients with hope in their eyes.
Overall, photography can help your business give off the vibe that you’re professional but also a place where employees work hard to improve the lives of others.
Health care business exist to provide important services to their patients. By clearly outlining the types of services your business offers on your website, customers will have a better idea if they’re in the right place. From the homepage, visitors easily need to be able to locate a “what we treat” or “our services” tab.
If they can’t find you, you can’t help them. A phone number and address located on the homepage of the website is a MUST. Although there is typically another tab with more contact information, the convenience of having that information on the homepage is very useful to visitors. Additionally, there’s a trend of including a “find a doctor” button or page to help patients locate a doctor based on their region, location or a specific physicians name.
According the to Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group, 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. Social media can be a great way to gain new customers when used to spread positive messages about your business. Almost every health care website we looked at had social media links on the homepage, most often including Facebook and Twitter icons.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are usually very welcoming to extra helping hands. Displaying this on a health care website is a MUST. Letting people know that there’s a way they can help contribute to the health of their community, whether by donating blood or volunteering their time, makes your company more personable.
While visiting a health care website, people are generally in search of information for a serious reason. Health care websites are not the place to pester people; they need to gather information in a safe environment they can trust.