Welcome to my blog, a place to explore and learn about the experience of running a psychiatric practice. I post about things that I find useful to know or think about. So, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Building A Website-The Template

I've been blogging for a little over three years now, which is hard to believe. I feel like I'm about average on the tech-y scale, and I certainly feel like a web presence is an important thing for any business to have. But I'm just starting to consider setting up a website for my private practice.

The main reason I've delayed this long is that since I don't use email to communicate with patients due to privacy/confidentiality and delay-in-treatment concerns, there didn't seem to be a point to a website where the contact information consists of a phone number.

Also, I knew I'd want an attractive, professional-looking site, but I didn't want to pay a lot of money to a designer for a site, the function of which is to get people to call me. There are some nice mixes of low and high tech, like a wooden iPhone case, or 3D printing a yarn winder, but a website with a phone number didn't seem to qualify as such a mix.

I finally decided to cave when I was researching my Analytic Evidence post, and I checked out the website of John Thor Cornelius, whose YouTube presentation I referenced in the post. I'm not sure how he'd feel about my linking to his site, which is why I haven't done so.

It's a thoughtful site, not glitzy, not overwhelming, but with all the information prospective and current patients might need about his practice, in addition to the ability to pay bills via PayPal, and I thought, yeah, this can be done well.

There are companies out there that design websites just for doctors, but they're expensive, and I don't need or want all the EMR integration stuff. So I've pretty much decided that, at least initially, I'll design my own site, for free, or for as little money as possible, and then see how it goes.

A few things I need to figure out before creating my site:

I need to decide what information to include on it. I'll need a decent headshot, contact info with a map feature, and a brief paragraph describing myself and my practice philosophy, which means I need to figure out what my practice philosophy is. I'm pretty sure I have one, I've just never articulated it. And I need to articulate it in a way that feels confident and inviting, but not exhibitionistic.

I need to decide how much information to provide about myself. Is a CV a good idea? Will that much information interfere with therapy?

I need some kind of description of what patients can expect from treatment.

I need to include my practice policies, which I already have written up. And I want to include the Surprise Act forms indicating that I don't accept insurance, and what my fees are, because that way I don't need to hand the stupid forms to my patients.

And I'd like patients to be able to pay through the site, but I need to understand how that impacts privacy.

I also need to pick a free or cheap website builder. I did several online searches including "build your own website free", "website builder for physicians,", and "best website builder for doctors". After googling around, I found a few I want to look into:


Web.com seems to have the highest rating when I looked up reviews, but my first concern was the template. Specifically, I wanted to find a template that looks like it's professional for a doctor, not professional for a lawyer, or a restaurant, or a dog-walker. My theory is that if such a template exists, then the company has probably had a number of doctors design sites through it, which feels like a "safer" bet to me. I don't want my site to look amateurish, but I also don't want it to look like I'm a graphic designer or the APA.

Note that contrary to my inclination, I'm not including images because I assume these sites are pretty proprietary with their stuff. Or maybe I'm wrong and they want the advertising.

Sitebuilder has a template category specifically for professional services, and it includes a physician page which is a little slick for my taste, but usable. What I didn't like about it was that it was the only site for which I had to register before I was allowed to see the available templates.

Weebly's closest business theme was for a law firm, and the next closest theme was a personal one that was basically a large business card.

Similarly, Wix's closest templates were Dentist and Doula.

Squarespace had nothing specifically medical, but I thought it had the most aesthetically pleasing themes.

GoDaddy has what I think of as a "jittery" site, where there's too much information thrown at you at once, and you just want to close the page. I don't think that bodes well for my own site. I did briefly look at their templates though, and I didn't much care for them.

The same was true for web.com-too busy, with only a small sampling of templates, all fairly ugly.

My favorite was Duda, which allowed access to templates, and had a specific medical template that looks about right to me. Also, their templates are responsive, which means they adjust themselves to whatever device the user is on, and can be customized for specific devices, i.e. you can make your smartphone page a bit different from your laptop page.

Well, okay, just this one image, since I'm saying it's my favorite:

Here's a spreadsheet summary of the templates:

Based on this information, I'm going to rule out GoDaddy, Sitebuilder, and Wix. I'm not crazy about Web.com but I'm going to keep it in the running because it gets consistently high ratings, so maybe there's more to it than I've seen thus far.