I Analyzed 1,100 Medical Websites And Here’s What I Learned

By Mark Brinker 
Updated: January 26, 2022

By Mark Brinker  /  Updated: January 26, 2022

I Analyzed 1,100 Medical Websites And Here’s What I Learned

What’s the current trend in medical website design?

Well, I personally analyzed over 1,100 medical websites (1,192 to be exact) and here’s what I observed:

  • Many medical websites are really good. They’re up to date with modern website design standards and they provide a good user experience to their visitors. Below is a list of sites I feel are getting it right. After viewing these sites, you’ll have a good idea of how a modern, stylish medical website should look and function.
  • There are a lot of really bad medical websites. More than I expected. They were either painful to look at, painful to use or both. To avoid embarrassing anybody, I’m not naming names. However, below are the most common medical website design problems I saw so you can avoid committing these gaffes on your website.

Before sharing my findings, you should know … I’ve been designing and developing websites for nearly 20 years. I wrote the book, “The Modern Website Makeover”. This is what I do for a living.

TRUE STORY:
How A Bad Medical Website Can Cost You New Patients


Mark Brinker

A few years ago I had a weird pea-sized growth on my ear. I called a doctor friend of mine and asked what type of specialist I should see to get this checked out. He said, “An ENT (Ear, Nose Throat) specialist.” I asked, “Do you have a name of someone good?” My friend gave me a name, but didn’t have his phone number handy. “Just Google him, he has a website.”, my friend said.

I Googled him and found his website alright — it looked like it was built by a 6th grader. It was embarrassing. Even though this ENT specialist was recommended by a trusted friend, I couldn’t bring myself to make an appointment with this guy because his website was so bad. Fair or not, I wondered, “Does he even sterilize his instruments?”

Instead of instilling trust and confidence, this doctor’s website scared me away.

Getting new patients is hard enough — you don’t want your website making it even more difficult.

Note: My medical journey ended well. I called another doctor friend of mine and he connected me with an ENT specialist … with a respectable website that gave me confidence in the doctor. I made an appointment, he removed the weird growth from my ear (which ultimately was benign) and I’m all good. 🙂

Most Common Medical Website Design Problems I Saw

In no particular order (except for #1 and # 2) …

1. Not mobile friendly. This one is such a no-brainer, and I’m shocked ANYONE still has a site that isn’t mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendly websites went mainstream around 2013-2014, and in late 2016, website visits from mobile & tablet traffic surpassed desktop website visits for the first time. When I see a site that isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s an instant tip-off the site probably hasn’t been updated in about 5 years. Or it could mean the owner of the site is either oblivious or just doesn’t care about providing a good website user experience.

2. Ugly, outdated design. Like bell bottoms and polyester leisure suits, you just kind of know when something’s out of style. With website design, it could mean too much white space on your pages, not enough white space (i.e. the page is cluttered), obnoxious color schemes, page layouts not balanced or out of proportion, unconventional page layouts seldom used anymore, pages that don’t look finished, outdated social media graphics, etc.

3. Not using HTTPS protocol. Even if you’re not selling things online via an e-commerce store, you still want a secure website. Your site is secure if you see that little padlock in your web browser. In late 2017, the Google Chrome browser started showing a non-secure error for simple contact forms and search fields on sites not using the HTTPS protocol. For more information, read my article on why your website should use HTTPS.

4. Poor choice of fonts. The font used throughout your site communicates a tone or feeling about your brand. You want a font that’s modern, commands respect and is easy to read. If you want people to take you seriously, you should never use a font like Comic Sans on your website. You also want fonts large enough so they’re easy to read without squinting. Body text should be at least 16-20 pixels. However, during my analysis of the 1,100+ medical websites, I saw a lot of sites using a body text size of 11-12 pixels. That’s way too small. For reference, the size of the font you’re reading right now is 18 pixels.

5. Poor choice of imagery. The internet is a media rich environment, and people expect you to tell your story with images, not just words. Many of the sites I visited used low-quality pictures, both in terms of resolution as well as artistic quality. Also, many sites used the wrong picture for the message they were trying to communicate. It just didn’t fit and it felt like they were trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. I also saw a lot of obvious stock imagery with the same models you’ve seen many times before on other websites or TV commercials. Stock imagery is fine. Just try and use high quality images that you haven’t seen used a bunch of times before, because it looks cheesy and cheapens your site.

6. Incoherent messaging. I visited A LOT of medical websites where it was not immediately obvious what kind of doctor they were, what services they provide or what kind of patients they treat. The people visiting your website are busy and they don’t have time for guessing games. Your site needs to quickly and easily communicate who you are and what you do. Sure, your site needs to look nice. But at the end of the day people are visiting your site for information.

7. Slow site. As a general rule, pages on your site should load in 3 seconds or less — whether it be on desktop, tablet or mobile. Pages taking 5-10 seconds to load are a bad user experience. Your visitors aren’t going to wait around that long. Three of the most common reasons for slow loading web pages are cheap web hosting, bloated code and non-optimized images. Of these three, the most common culprit is non-optimized images. To learn how to optimize images on your website so they don’t slow down your site, here’s my article with instructions on how to do that.

8. Starting below the fold. A cardinal rule of effective ad copy is to lead with your most important stuff so it’s “above the fold“. The moment your visitors’ eyes hit your page they’re assessing whether or not to continue reading. I saw many sites use their prime real estate (at the top of the homepage) with either weak/non-existent headlines or big, pretty pictures that were nothing more than eye candy. Yes, readers will scroll to see what you have to say, but you have to start with your best stuff and give them a reason to scroll.

9. Keyword stuffing in the footer. I thought this technique went the way of the Dodo bird about 10 years ago. But surprise, surprise … sites are still using it. If you’re not familiar with this, keyword stuffing is when you jam a bunch of keywords that you’d like to rank for into the footer of your site in hopes of manipulating Google into listing your site on page 1. Let me save you some time, Google is well aware of techniques like this that try and game the system. Don’t do it. It devalues your site and makes you look like an amateur. Google might even penalize your site for shenanigans like this.

10. Using Adobe Flash videos/animations. This one surprised me. I just assumed everyone ditched Adobe Flash years ago. However, lots of sites still use it. Adobe Flash was developed back in the 1990s for creating cool special effects online. But in 2010, Steve Jobs announced Apple would no longer allow Flash to play on iPods, iPhones and iPads due to security and performance issues. Ever since, Flash has been in a downward spiral. Adobe announced it is officially retiring Flash at the end of 2020 and Google is saying goodbye to Flash in Chrome.

11. Too much animation. Here I’m talking about CSS (cascading style sheets) animation, not Flash animation. CSS animation allows you to create motion and transition effects on your website to jazz it up a little bit, instead of everything being static. CSS animation effects are perfectly fine if done tastefully and in moderation. But unfortunately some websites are overdoing it, which weakens the overall image of the site. If you want to use a little CSS animation, fine. Just remember that people aren’t coming to your site to be entertained with fancy graphics. They’re there for your information.

12. Old copyright date. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t see a website with an old copyright date in the footer. In reviewing over 1,100 medical websites, I routinely saw copyright dates of 2009, 2010 and 2012. Which then gets you wondering, “Is this office still in business? Have they not updated their site in 6 years? If they don’t pay attention to little details like the copyright date, is this a sign that they also don’t pay attention to details in their clinic with patients?” Don’t give your visitors a reason to doubt you. Make sure your website shows the current year in the footer.

13. No testimonials or case studies. When’s the last time you bought something from Amazon (or anywhere) without reading a bunch of reviews? Exactly. None of us wants to make a bad decision, so we rely heavily on the feedback of others that took the plunge before us. I’m not sure why so many medical websites are devoid of patient testimonials and case studies, but they are. Whatever the reason, medical websites need testimonials just like non-medical websites do. It’s Sales & Marketing 101. Gotta have ’em.

14. Not telling new patients what to expect. Any new experience, especially going to a brand new doctor, can be very stressful. It’s even more stressful if you’re having a specialized procedure done like eye surgery or a colonoscopy. How does the procedure work? What’s the recovery time? Heck, even something as basic as where do I park and what door do I go in can be stressful if you’ve never been to the office before. An FAQ page or better yet, a short video explaining everything would calm a lot of nerves and let patients know they’re in good hands.

15. Not addressing insurance and financial policies. Probably the # 1 question on prospective patients’ minds is, “Is this covered by my health insurance?” If yes, is it fully covered or just partially covered? If not, what are your financial policies for out-of-pocket expenses? Nobody likes surprises. But amazingly, I found that many medical websites barely address this topic or avoid it altogether. If you want to separate yourself from the pack, have the courage to address financial issues on your website. Prospective patients will appreciate and respect you for it.

I observed lots of other issues while visiting the 1,100+ sites, but I didn’t list them here because I only want to focus on the most common mistakes (i.e. 80/20 rule)

Examples Of Good Medical Website Design

As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Here are some medical website design examples I like … and why I like them.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Conclusion

So how does your medical website stack up? Are you up with current website design standards and best practices? Or do you have some catching up to do?

If you’ve been wanting to improve or upgrade your site, hopefully I’ve been able to give you some food for thought on what constitutes good medical website design and what constitutes bad medical website design.

Also, if you found this post helpful, please share it on your favorite social media platform. Thanks! 😉

  1. I started developing web pages early 1990s. Am shocked at how awful web sites are slapped together these days. Scrolling fields without options to type manually type. Date fields are all over the place. Put the example using background text or for crying out loud automatically put in the dashes for the user! Auto caps for names! Examples embedded but don’t require the user to delete the examples! The list i have goes on and on. And they are all involve simple code. And why aren’t pages TESTED across multiple platforms. Ridiculous to me. I’m glad you have taken the time to review web pages.

  2. Mark,

    Thanks for your expert advice with real-world examples!

    If I (and I think) many others visit sub-standard websites, we assume the business is also sub-standard and move onto another provider. If I visit an ABOVE-STANDARD website, optimized for customers, I assume the business is customer-centric, up to date, and high-class, the kind of business I want to partner with.

    If they don’t put “their best foot forward”, I wonder what their “other foot” looks like…and go elsewhere!

    1. Thanks, Adam, for letting us know that patient testimonials are not allowed in Australia. Good to know. Here in the USA, patient testimonials generally are permitted as long as they’re not false or misleading. But some states are more restrictive than others regarding the use of patient testimonials. As always, when in doubt, consult with your attorney.

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