This is the third of a series of six articles written for Private Practice Hub by Phil Hulme of WebHealer the specialist provider of websites to professional therapists. The series started in July with an overview of AIDAN, WebHealer’s approach to helping their customers grow their therapy practice and this article goes deeper into step two – Integrity.
In the blink of an eye
People can make judgements very quickly. Research suggests that websites have only 0.05 seconds to make a good impression. That’s quicker than your eye can blink. If your visitor sees silly dancing frog clipart they’ll make a snap decision and never get to your qualifications page or discover that you are actually a consummate professional who is also a human being who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
Integrity is all about reassurance. In the article after this we will talk about making a connection with your visitor through the quality of your content, but this chapter is all about ensuring they don’t immediately hit ‘BACK’. Here is a quick checklist of some of the basics.
- Does the website look broken or working? Is it mobile friendly?
- Does it load quickly?
- Does it have the expected appearance?
- Does the content appear to be of quality and appealing to read?
- Does the navigation seem clear or confusing?
The Halo effect
As well as determining whether your visitor chooses to stay and read your website content, establishing or failing to establish integrity in these initial moments has a wider effect. It has long been known by psychologists that first impressions, once formed, continue to influence perceptions long after new information is received which may contradict it. This has been called the ‘Halo Effect’. So if your website’s very first impression is positive, an expectation of integrity is created which leads your visitor to respond more positively to everything else they read and see. Of more concern is that the opposite is also true and that impressions tend to endure, not just for the period of time a visitor is looking at your website, but for future visits.
According to many studies navigation is the single most important factor influencing the success of a website. It is also the final step between establishing initial integrity and the goal of the next AIDAN stage, which is to engage your visitor with the quality of your message and content. Your visitor should at this stage have an interest in finding out more. Some may want to know more about you, the therapist, and your background and qualifications. Others may be interested in your therapies or therapeutic approach. If the navigation is clear and easy to use, your visitor will start to connect with you, but navigation can very easily impede and become a barrier. According to research;
- 85% abandon a website because of poor design
- 40% never return to a site because content was hard to use
- 50% of sales are lost because visitors can’t find content
Navigation is more than just the top menu. You need also to consider navigation within your content and other navigation queues. Our full eBook covers this in more detail and includes some interesting psychological aspects such as the importance of a one line top menu. Many years ago psychologists discovered that short term memory can typically hold a maximum of 7 items, so if you put more than 7 items in your menu it will become more difficult to process and use.
Use drop down menus or links within pages to access your other pages. To further aid simplicity keep your menu names short and descriptive e.g. “My Therapies” or “Psychotherapy” rather than generic e.g. “Services”. Avoid clumsy menu names like “Counselling, Psychotherapy and EFT” which are descriptive but visually distracting.
WebHealer is a specialist provider of websites to private practice therapists and is preferred supplier to members of leading therapy associations.