Developing An Effective Physical Therapy Web Site

Physical therapists have unique web presence needs. An effective site must:

* Introduce the practitioner, and outline his or her style of treatment;

* Provide straightforward content establishing the practitioner's credibility;

* Review services and common procedures performed by the practitioner;

* Inform the prospective client of the features and value of selecting the practitioner as a service provider;

* Offer immediate contact options, including a web e-mail form;

* Display office locations complete with photos, address, and driving directions.

Style and Navigation

The physical therapist's web site should be clean, professional, and to the point. Avoid loading the site with Flash, Java applets, or other features that go beyond basic programming. Keep the practitioner's target market(s) in mind; potential clients are looking for information, not savvy design.

Of course, this shouldn't take away from the web site's on-screen appeal. Images and text should be easy to review, however this doesn't have to infer plain web design. Let the information stand out; compliment the text with images and basic page graphics.

If a logo, font, or color is already in use on printed marketing materials, incorporate this into the site so that all marketing materials present the practitioner consistently.

Content Elements

Presenting content in a basic, explanatory fashion will ensure the web site appeals to the greatest target market possible. If the site is loaded with concepts or terminology that is beyond traditional understanding, the reader will indirectly lose interest. Again, keep the target market in mind.

If at all possible, be sure to include a photo of the practitioner, as well as a limited biography. Photos of in-office staff are also helpful in developing a relationship between the client-prospect and the practitioner.

Each practitioner has his or her own style of treatment. Highlighting the specific features and/or benefits of the practitioner's services is the most effective way to turn prospects into clients. Increasing the unique value of the practitioner will establish credibility, promote interest, and increase the likelihood of taking a "next action step."

Establishing a next action step is imperative in developing an effective web presence. All areas of the site must lead the prospect to a point of action, whether it be telephone contact, filling out a consultation form, or requesting additional information by mail or e-mail.

Tweaks and Tips

* When developing content, be sure to include plenty of key terms and phrases in the site's general text. Search engines such as Google rely on content text, not meta tags, to determine search placement.

* Include key terms in image description tags and hyperlinks. Describe each image or link using terms and phrases relevant to the image, industry, and practitioner.

* Offer point-to-point driving direction to each office location by linking to a Google or Yahoo! map. This free service is a great way to increase prospect-to-client conversion, as visitors will recall the site provides driving directions.

If you are a practitioner attempting to develop your first web presence, seek the advice and support of a full-service small business web design firm. Professional, affordable web design is available. Creating a "do it yourself" site may appear cost effective, however this can quickly become a complicated and time consuming project. Stay focused in your profession, and recruit the wisdom of a web professional.

Jim Ray is a seasoned web developer and president of Web Presence, a national web design firm serving the small business market sector. To learn more, or for a free quote for your own web site, visit the Web Presence at http://www.web-presence.net

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