By Kat Love, EmpathySites
How does someone feel when they start searching for a therapist? For most people, they are in a state of struggle or crisis. They know they need help and they are looking to find it.
They ask their friends. They ask their family. They do Google searches. They scour all the directories.
And all that referral collecting and searching will land them on therapist websites.
As the therapist, you’ll want a website that meets those seekers where they are. A website that helps soothe and calm stressed out visitors as well as a website that inspires hope.
But creating a website that provides a great experience to visitors isn’t stress free on the creator side. For many therapists I’ve spoken with, creating a therapist website was very stressful.
Especially if you are new to having a website, you may feel like there are so many things to think about leading to overwhelm, anxiety, and the feeling of “I don’t even know where to start.”
In this post, let’s keep it simple and break things down into small, digestible insights. We’ll walk through five tips for creating a therapist website in the new year.
Whether you have never had a website before or are working on a website revamp, these tips will help frame some of the important things to think about.
1. Explore who you are and how you help
Your website is your most important online marketing tool. Unlike your directory listings or social media profiles, your website is a place where you have total control. You get to create your website to reflect you!
But to create a site that reflects who you are and how you help, you first need to know who you are and how you help.
Start getting to know yourself through answering questions like:
- Who do I help?
- How do I help?
- What do they want to get help with?
- What are their struggles?
- What do they desire?
Being specific in how you answer questions like these can help. The ultimate goal is for you to be clear enough to guide decisions on the website content, design, and technology. These are the important decisions you’ll be making to create your website.
2. Write with authenticity
Being authentic is challenging because being vulnerable is scary. We want to be liked and appreciated but we may fear the real us isn’t good enough. Perhaps we feel safer wearing a bit of a mask.
But you don’t need to be perfect; you need to be human. In fact, showing imperfections helps people relate to you and trust you.
So this is encouragement to peel away all the stuff that doesn’t feel like it’s the real you. Instead, try doing some free writing with the following prompts that can help inject some authenticity into your written website copy.
- Why did you start being a therapist?
- What’s different about your approach? Share what makes you unique.
- What are your beliefs and values? Feminist? Christian? Love helping Veterans?
- Do you welcome diversity? How can you write to that?
- Share a small piece of your personal story and how that helps you be who you are as a person and therapist.
- How would your colleagues describe the way you support your clients?
Authenticity is client-attractive. Expressing yourself authentically helps your best fit clients identify that you are the therapist for them.
3. Use images that match where your clients want to be
What destination do your best fit clients want to reach? Perhaps they want to feel more fulfilled. Or they want to feel more connected in their relationships. Or maybe they want to learn how to unplug from work on the weekends (and finally stop checking their email on their phone every five minutes).
When you start to think of where your best fit clients want to arrive after therapy, you can also start to envision what types of places, activities, and environments they might imagine in those moments.
Maybe they want to be that cute couple in a busy cafe, gazing over the table into each other’s eyes. Or maybe they want to kick depression to the curb, get out of bed, and start spending more time outdoors.
Knowing who your best fit clients are and what destination they’d like to reach will help you find images that match where they want to be.
On a therapist website, you’re claiming that you may be able to help visitors move from where they are, likely a place of suffering, to a better place — a place they want to be.
Showing images of those places can demonstrate how much you already understand about your incoming client’s desires before they even step in your office.
4. Design your site to express you
For many therapists in private practice, starting with a pre-designed website template can make sense. Depending on your budget and skills, you might also be able to start from a blank slate that you design from the ground up with the help of a professional design solution, or you might design a site yourself.
But whatever route you choose for designing your therapist website, you’ll want to use what you know about who you are and how you help as a guide to making design decisions.
Visual design is a well-researched field. For instance, colors have psychology to them. Did you know that red leads people to be more impulsive? Or that blue is the most trustworthy color? Color is one way you can make your website design speak visually about how you care.
Other design elements like layouts and fonts can speak volumes as well. Rounded elements are more friendly, and squared can feel more stable and sure. Handwritten fonts can be more fun and motivating, while serif fonts are more traditional.
In order for your website to reflect who you are and what you do, it must speak on the design level, too.
If your website design looks like a cookie-cutter template, it won’t be communicating anything at all. It won’t draw the visitor in. And it’s those first milliseconds on your site that make a lasting impression and help a visitor determine if they want to venture further on your site or click away. Good design helps visitors decide to stay.
5. Invite your visitors to reach out and reach out securely
A major mistake on many therapist websites is the lack of an invitation to reach out securely and get started with therapy.
On your website, a visitor should know the next step they can take to get your help. It can be something as simple as, “Call for your free 15-minute consultation: 555-555-5555.”
On the contact page, you can also explain a bit about what happens when someone reaches out. Sticking with the free consultation call as an example, explain how during the call you’ll answer questions and start getting to know each other so the potential client can understand how you can help.
Or maybe you don’t offer a free consultation, and the first step to getting your help is to schedule a first appointment. That’s cool too. Sharing the invitation to schedule along with a bit more about what they can expect at their first appointment will help guide clients to take that first step.
Also important are the methods you use to communicate with visitors. Phone, email, contact and intake forms should all be secure.
As a professional therapist, you are responsible for providing secure communication options to your incoming clients. Taking good care of the security of your clients' information is an important way you can extend your care for them as you guide them to getting your help.
Pace yourself and get your website out there!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start small and build more as you go. Instead of thinking of your website as a single, huge mountain to be climbed, think of your website as a series of paths with many possible routes. You get to choose which direction to go, when to hike up a hill with a burst of energy, and even when to take a break. Pace yourself.
Your website is a journey, not a destination.
By taking one step at a time, you can create a site that expresses who you are and how you help. Your website can show the human side of you, making you relatable. It can connect with your best fit clients by reflecting where they want to be in life.
Your therapist website is also a place where the design itself can speak as well. Through colors, fonts, and layouts, you can create an experience that gives visitors a sense of how you care before they even meet you.
And you can also invite visitors to reach out through secure channels you’ve already set up for them, anticipating them to reach out, so they can have their security cared for and be guided to your door.
With small pieces of care and consideration, you can create an awesome website this year and ongoing. Keep journeying on the website path. You’ve got this.