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Web Design For Private Practice

Aug 18, 2007
Every practice needs a website. A practice website is a 24/7 marketing machine for your practice. Before I ever took a class on marketing, I did not realize how much cheaper and easier it is to get clients from the Internet than from other forms of marketing. For the first two years of my practice, I got no referrals from my website. That is because, like most psychotherapist's websites, my site was not search engine friendly and no one could find it.

A website that is search engine friendly is particularly good for education based marketing. You can let others know what you are an expert in. Referral sources will start seeking you out and making referrals to you if you have a website that is search engine optimized.

The pro's of Do-it-yourself web design: It's inexpensive. It allows you complete control over your content. Search Engine Optimization: Most web designers do not design for Internet Marketing. You can easily optimize you page for your search terms.

I am a fan of do-it-yourself web design for private practice marketing since I started using Xsite Pro to design my pages. Now I can design professional looking pages with far more content than I could ever afford to pay someone else to do. It has become a hobby for me and I get a large number of referrals for my practice from my practice websites for very little cost. Since I spent the time learning how to do it, it has not been difficult to get my sites at or near the top of the search engines for the terms related to my practice. My websites are a source of many referrals for a very low financial investment.

The Con's of Do-It-Yourself Website Design:
It is time consuming. There is a learning curve. Self designed sites may not look as professional as some designers.

The problem with do-it-yourself web design is the learning curve and the time necessary to commit to it. I enjoy it. If you don't enjoy computers- you probably want to hire someone else to design the website for your practice.

The Pro's of Hiring a Web Designer: Easier and less time consuming than doing it yourself. You might get a prettier website. If you are careful to pick a designer who knows how to optimize your page and you spend the time researching what to optimize your page for, you might get a lot of clients from it. A web designer might know about tools you would have never found to grow your practice.

The Con's of Hiring a Web Designer:
There is a high likelihood they will know graphic design and not search engine optimization, leading to a site that can not be found and brings you no business. It can get extremely expensive. You can get charged what one coach calls "hostage fees". If you are not capable of changing and maintaining your own pages you may face an endless stream of on-going fees to do what you want with your site. When your site needs to be up-dated, even just to add a link, you may have to wait on your web designer.

Many designers know graphic design and know very little about marketing. Unless you take the time to learn about internet marketing and search engine optimization yourself, you are highly likely to end up spending a lot of money on a page that looks nice but very few potential clients will ever see. Be especially careful of designers who try to sell you a flash site or one that uses a lot of Java script. Designers who are focused only on the look of a page may tell you they are the best, but they are generally not appropriate for marketing. They can look stunning if done right, but they are awful for being found by search engines. I have known several professionals who got stuck paying a lot of money for sites that get very little traffic from potential clients or referral sources.

Recommended Resources for Hiring a Web Designer for Your Private Practice:

I think it is wise to attempt to learn some things about creating websites before hiring a web designer. If you want to maintain your site yourself and you have learned something about creating a website but want some professional help to make it look more professional, consider using Rent-A-Coder or Elance.

I have used Rent-a-Coder and Elance independent contractors for several projects and have been satisfied. These very large services have many thousands of independent contractors worldwide. You can find a US or international contractor by putting out a bid request. International designers, especially from third world countries, are generally much cheaper than U.S. designers if you want to outsource some design work. These services have an escrow service to insure that your independent contractor fulfills your request fairly before getting paid. You can hire designers on an ongoing basis to build and maintain your website, or for just for doing a certain portion of coding or script writing that is too advanced for you. You can also hire writers, search engine experts, graphic designers, and many others to help in your marketing.
About the Author
Susan Huebert, L.S.C.S.W., practices counseling and coaching in Wichita, KS. Visit her Private Practice Marketing Club website or visit her mental health billing website to find better ways to run your mental health practice.
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