A definition of site quality
Site quality is a broad term, with many possible interpretations. Quite simply – it has a different meaning to different people.
Online Medical’s definition of site quality focusses on a few broad principles, and can be assessed by discovering the answers to the following questions…
- Does the site offer good user interface and user experience? This includes desktop mobile and tablet optimisation, effective layout, navigation, webforms, and other interactive elements.
- Does the site offer quality content? This includes the relevance of the content – sufficient breadth and depth of material which is easy to read and understand.
- Does the site offer an appealing design? This includes stylistic elements and also functional aspects of design (appealing typography and photography for example).
Hallmarks of a low-quality website
The temptation to be cost driven when selecting a website developer is certainly there. Essentially, quality = time = cost. Therefore, producing a high-quality website is comparatively expensive. How does a lack of time and attention (likely to be present in a cheap website) actually manifest?
Some websites are cheaper because of the Content Management System (CMS) the site is built on. This is possible because certain CMS have a low barrier to entry for developers. Often the people creating websites on such CMS are essentially "Site Themers", rather than true Website Developers. The people that create the various software modules that are available for use on such CMS are also less likely to be experienced developers. This means potentially problematic code quality (for example higher likelihood of dangerous security issues) due to poor development of modules.
Cheaper websites tend not to be customised in any significant way - often templates (themes) are used. The experience of the developer and also the CMS selected may mean that any true customisation of site features becomes prohibitively expensive.
Significantly, these websites also tend to fail when assessed against the site quality criteria we mentioned above...
User experience is typically passable at best. In fact, it's often pretty dire when compared to modern best practice. For example, navigation is often sub-standard. There are a variety of factors that may be problematic... ranging from issues with menu usability (particularly on mobile devices), to problems with the categorisation and structure of the navigation (pages are poorly organised and labelled). Often there is a failure to provide index pages to facilitate navigation, and also a lack of links between pages – which are useful to encourage discovery of information.
Online Medical has systems and processes in place to ensure that the navigation, webforms and other interactive elements offer a user-friendly experience. People can find the information they want easily, and the experience is pleasant.
Note: There are a variety of other factors we offer by default that positively affect user experience – cheaper sites will likely not (or cannot) implement. For example, fast loading pages.
Importantly, all of this is tested. We make sure sites look great and operate well on a wide range of devices and web browsers.
Content is often a problem with cheaper development. Particularly if there's no dedicated project manager to help guide the client through what pages should be created and what information can be included on those pages. Furthermore, there's often very little (if any) assistance to actually create the content that should be present if the client cannot contribute themselves. The end result is often a lack of relevant and useful pages, and the pages that are present are often low quality – with not enough detail, missing information and poor structure.
Even more concerning is that some providers offer templated content – taking advantage of the lack of client knowledge and understanding. This is a huge problem for your website, as Google will classify this as “duplicate content”. Therefore, it is very unlikely your website would rank well because of this.
The classic hallmark of a poor-quality site are pages that contain the dreaded words "content coming soon". Sadly, the content typically never appears, and the practice appears unprofessional for the lifetime of the website.
Online Medical offer dedicated project management, including strong guidance to plan the information that should appear, and assistance to create the content if required (we offer a specialised medical copywriting service). We offer a final review of the content – providing feedback to help improve the material if needed.
Design for cheaper websites are often based on what is easiest for the developer to create in terms of conforming to the templates the developer has access to. This is the antithesis of a quality custom design.
Typically, the most effort that cheap providers will do is "skin" an existing template, by customising a few colours and dropping in some stock photos and a logo (if you already have one). This is far from ideal and a missed opportunity to appeal to your site visitors and offer a professional image. Often template elements that have no application to your specific needs are retained (even though it makes no sense to include them).
From an advertising and marketing point of view, it is very valuable to develop a brand identity. We can help you with this so that your practice has a consistent presentation no matter how your patient interacts (online or offline). This may involve creation of a logo and a basic style guide. As a quality brand identy is so important in establishing a professional visual style – we have committed to offer this at very competitive cost.
We ensure custom typography (derived from your brand) is present and all basic HTML elements have styles in place.
We are very proactive when working with you to select photography – in particular to suit the requirements for responsive design. To do this well is a little time consuming. Wherever possible, we encourage the use of high-quality photography supplied from a custom photoshoot (we offer this service).
There are many factors which differentiate an average themed design from a high-quality custom design. The cumulative effect of properly addressing these design factors as part of a custom solution is ultimately a more appealing experience for your site visitors.
Implications of a low-quality website
The overall effect of poor execution for the aforementioned quality principles is significant. Essentially the outcomes are usually:
- Problems with usability, content and design equate to a poor experience for site visitors.
- Visitors are less likely to engage with the site. This will be reflected in duration of visit and bounce rate (percentage of people leaving the site after visiting just one page).
- Visitors are less likely to see the practice and surgeons as professional - essentially damaging confidence in your practice, thus reducing the likelihood that they will become a patient, or a referring GP.
- Google cares about the quality of a website – the search engine likes good quality, relevant and timely content. Also, the site must offer a good user experience (e.g.: mobile friendly, fast loading etc). As a natural outcome of the site not meeting the relatively high standards set by Google, it would be very difficult to achieve effective rankings in search engines. Even a Search Engine Optimisation campaign would likely not achieve much. Therefore, the site would be difficult to market and to gain new relevant visitors and potentially grow the practice.
In summary, if you are tempted by the allure of a cheap website – please resist. The bottom line of your business will ultimately be a lot healthier if you do, by meeting the expectations of your site visitors (Patients and GPs). A great website satisfies the needs of your visitors, as it is appealing and easy to use. Such a website is ultimately fulfilling it's function, and also inspiring confidence and trust in your practice. This is very unlikley to be the outcome if you decide to opt for a cheap solution – hence, wasted expenditure, rather than a wise investment.
If you have a new project and would like to discuss any of the information provided above, please contact us.