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Web Sites For Therapists – Where To Go?
I regularly visit many online forums for therapists and one of the questions I hear asked most frequently is, “What’s the best way to create my web site?” Sometimes the therapist is looking for the most inexpensive solution, others want to ensure quality SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and others want to have some help with creating a site without taking out a second mortgage. The truth is, you need a nice blend of all of the above in order to have an effective web site that doesn’t break the bank.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Web Site Option
With that in mind, here I lay out the three basic options you have in choosing a web site platform or service. One thing I strongly encourage therapists to bear in mind when making this decision is the concept of return on investment. Likewise, it’s important to note that time is not just money… time is greater than money. So, while some options may be free with regard to finances, that doesn’t account for the substantial amount of time you’ll invest in learning to use them and creating your own site. Time that could potentially be spent on other activities that bring in revenue. That said, I do understand and have engaged in bootstrapping myself. I get that, sometimes especially when people are just starting out, they don’t have an extensive budget. And so, I present options for all budgets and approaches.
The DIY (Do It Yourself) Web Site Options
I originally called these the “free options”. But, many DIY options aren’t free, and many services that start out free don’t stay that way. What the DIY services share in common is that you are almost entirely on your own in creating your site.
SquareSpace and Wix are two of the most popular that I’ve heard good things about. They have friendly user-interfaces and make the process of creating a nice looking site relatively easy. While free or inexpensive, there’s still a substantial “time cost” considering the learning curve. With these services, you won’t be getting much guidance on things like how to choose a good domain name for a therapy practice, and definitely no help with things like HIPAA compliance and knowledge about what kind of content makes for good SEO and a successful therapist web site. So, not only will you have to learn their platform, but also search elsewhere for information on how to write good copy, choose a domain name, maintain compliance and so forth. By the time you add up all the time you spend on a DIY site and calculate how much money you could have made seeing clients during that time, it’s possible you could have paid someone else to do most of this for you after all.
Still, for those who are financially strapped while opening their business, or only doing this part-time, this may be a viable option to get started. We strongly recommend moving on to one of the other choices as soon as its viable, however.
Recommended – Want to step up your game? Want to do it yourself, AND have all the benefits of using WordPress? I use SiteGround* for all of my web sites, and their customer service has been excellent. In fact, I’ve been so happy with them, I migrated all of my web sites over from another provider! With WordPress you’ll have far more choices and flexibility in theme, plus generally better SEO results.
Pros – Low Cost
Cons – Learning Curve, Time Investment, Lack of Guidance Specific to Therapists, Limited Templates, Time Might Be Better Spent
The Professional Developer Option
This is the option I hear the most misinformation about. Often the vendors of the other options, as a marketing tactic, talk about how it’s going to cost thousands and thousands of dollars to hire a professional developer. That’s simply not the case. While you certainly can find someone that will charge you that much, that tends to be for fully customized, graphic intensive sites.
WordPress is where you want to go here. WordPress is one of the world’s most popular Content Management Systems. Which is a fancy way of saying that it has a user-friendly interface for editing and creating content. So, once a developer sets up a WordPress site, you can be in control of the content from there on. There are thousands of templates available for WordPress. Using one of these templates greatly reduces the cost of creating a site and usually ensures your site won’t look like anyone elses in your area. The cost of this development can vary widely based on factors like:
- Whether you or the developer is writing the copy
- The source and quantity of graphics
- Incorporation of video, e commerce, or other custom features.
There are a number of quality developers out there that can complete a site like this at a reasonable cost, often below $3000 (We’ve provided this services ourselves for many therapists). While that still might seem like a lot of money to many therapists, the savings come in over time. Once your site is complete, your monthly costs can be as low as $10 per month for ongoing hosting.
If you’re willing to make an up front investment in order to have a custom web site that pays dividends over time, this is the option for you!
Pros – Most Options for Customization, Personal Attention and Guidance, As Much (or as little) Help As You Need
Cons – Up Front Cost
The Managed Provider Option
In between the DIY and the Professional Developer options lies the Managed Provider option. With this option, you pay a monthly subscription fee, choose from a set of templates, and get some level of support for the writing of copy, customization, SEO, etc. Typically with no, or only a small up front fee, and all of the technical maintenance taken care of by the vendor, this is often an attractive option for therapists.
Up until recently, I didn’t feel there was a solid option for this kind of service. The most prominent vendor offering this service was (and still is, in my opinion) offering stale templates, re-used copy, and little support.
But along has come BrighterVision*. Aptly named, Brighter Vision has rejuvenated this model of web site hosting for therapists by using a variety of WordPress templates and offering personal customer service, including unlimited technical support! They will walk you through customizing your template with custom colors, fonts and even allow you to select up to 10 images from their partner stock image vendor. Now you can have this managed option without using the same template, copy, and images as hundreds of other therapists.
In fact, I’ve been so impressed with the BrighterVision team that Tame Your Practice has partnered with them, allowing you to receive a free month if you follow this link. While we would love the opportunity to build a site for you, if you prefer the monthly subscription model, we think you’ll love BrighterVision.
Pros – Unlimited Technical Support, Manageable Monthly Fee, Therapist-Centric Support For Things Like SEO
Cons – Long-term cost
Whichever option you choose, your web site will be a key first point of contact with potential clients, so be sure to spend an appropriate amount of time developing it so that it meets your expectations!
*This page contains affiliate links, through which I may receive compensation. I don’t take these types of partnerships lightly, and only endorse products I have the highest regard for.
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Health Information Exchanges (HIE) are an initiative related to the Affordable Care Act and the HITECH Act. Their purpose is to ease the communication between the EHR/systems of various providers of health care, because the EHRs themselves are behind in doing so (i.e. interoperability).
About the Author
Rob has been covering technology and business news for mental health professionals since 2011. His extensive experience in IT, business, and private practice allow him to synthesize information in a friendly, digestible manner. He also enjoys time with his family, ultimate frisbee, and board gaming.