Back when the millennium turn was a recent event, websites — while already plentiful — still felt somewhat novel. There was a degree of excitement and vibrancy that went along with a plan to venture online. So many possibilities to be explored and people to be reached, with many territories yet uncharted. And if something went wrong, well, no big deal. Gone are the days when you had to hire programmers and engineers to launch a website. Today, students are starting businesses and creating businesses daily. Even healthcare practices have embraced the importance of a web presence. In this article, we will review what key steps to take when launching your healthcare website.
Skip ahead to early 2021, and things are slightly different. Maintaining an online presence has gone from a useful bonus to an absolute necessity. The level of competition has skyrocketed, and demands have changed. And that uncharted territory? It’s all been charted, time and time again. Understandably, this puts a different magnitude of pressure on every website launch.
The situation is clear for the average business owner: make some sloppy mistakes, and they might not have the chance to try again down the line. With the COVID-19 pandemic still playing havoc with an offline business, harnessing the web’s trade opportunities may be key for their company’s survival. But then there’s the healthcare industry.
In healthcare, it’s genuinely a matter of life and death. Any given website could be needed to provide vital medical treatments or schedule life-changing appointments, so take launch mistakes seriously. In this post, we’re going to look at a few key suggestions for avoiding mistakes while launching an important website in 2021. Let’s get started.
1. Choose the platform carefully.
By far, the most significant decision you’ll have to make is also among the first you’ll need to address: namely, which platform (or content management system — CMS) you’ll use as the foundation of your site. Throughout your website’s operational lifespan, it’ll determine everything from how easily you can update the pages to what integrations you can deploy.
If you choose a CMS that doesn’t properly match your site’s intended purpose or one that lacks the sophistication or support that you need, it’ll have disastrous consequences. Think of the old parable: building a house on sand will surely result in its collapse. It may take a long while to figure out which platform is right for you, and you may need to spend relatively heavily to secure the selected platform. But all that commitment will be worth it.
Even now, some years after the maturation of the internet, people still make the mistake of opting solely for ease of use. They choose platforms built to be intuitive and accessible: platforms like Wix or Yola, for instance. But they vary massively in quality. Wix is a big-hitter, having a solid foundation to match its interface. Yola, meanwhile, lacks vital features, effectively making it unsuitable for any project with notable ambitions. Using it would be a mistake.
So what should you choose? Well, there’s always the option of having a custom CMS developed. In the healthcare world, this is often justified: the life-or-death element warrants an expansive budget. But if the funding isn’t there to develop a custom platform, it’s best to go with a reliable and widely-supported CMS. WordPress, for instance, is the most popular platform in the world for a reason. It’s robust, frequently updated, and highly configurable.
2. Test the site on a wide range of devices
People access websites in many different ways at this point, going beyond desktops and laptops. They use smartphones, tablets, TVs, and even smartwatches (particularly fitness trackers). And creating a site in the healthcare industry makes it far more likely that people will need to access it in different ways — so are you taking this into account?
It’s still frustratingly common for sites to be launched before they’ve been tested on all platforms and in all views. What happens if someone needs to place an order for treatment, but their mobile browser won’t render a vital part of the checkout page? If your site uses some outmoded code, this is a realistic possibility. Just look at how HTML5 has supplanted Flash.
Thankfully, the development process has largely adopted a flexible mobile-first approach by now, meaning that most websites are built with various platforms in mind. Just be sure to carry out the testing before you proceed with the launch. If everything looks and functions as it should, you can proceed. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to delay the launch and fix the issues before going ahead. You only get one chance to launch, after all, and losing user trust right out of the gate can cause irreparable damage to your reputation.
3. Invest in a comprehensive content review
With so much effort going into the design process, on-site content can be overlooked. This is a huge problem because it matters far more than people assume. Even a smattering of typos can majorly undermine the trustworthiness of a site — and when that site is in the healthcare industry, covering vital topics, any loss of trust can result in the site becoming useless.
Consider the role that transparency must play in such a system. Healthcare websites can handle the links in providing people with the support they need, but this must be done in a clear, consistent, and trackable (hence the immense value of referral management software). That clarity can’t be unique to the underlying framework.
If the copy on the homepage leads each visitor to be confused about how the referral system works or calls the governing corporation’s expertise into question, everything will be negatively affected. That demands proofreading, redrafting, and steady reviewing from users who are vaguely representative of the target audience. Settling for anything less than a high level of polish will soon prove to be a serious error in judgment.
In the end, the key to arranging a successful website launch in 2021 is thorough with your planning and testing. Take the time to do things correctly. Rushing ahead to save money or beat a deadline will only cause problems for you and the users.