If you have looked into setting up a website for your practice you have probably come across WordPress. If not, let me be the first to recommend it.
WordPress is a content management system used by nearly one-quarter of all websites (stats here). The second most popular, Joomla, is used by just under 3%.
This popularity is probably due to the fact that it is easy to use, well supported, flexible, and FREE.
WordPress.org -v- WordPress.com
WordPress.com sites are hosted by WordPress. They are really easy to set up, but they are less customizable. Also, your site address will include “wordpress.com.” For example, yourmedicalpractice.wordpress.com.
WordPress.org sites are self-hosted. For a nominal cost, you have to register your own domain name and find your own web host. Learn more about that here. The upside is that you can better customize your website for your practice and you get a more professional website address. Here is a client of ours for example, northwestwellnessgroup.com.
I recommend going with WordPress.org for your medical practice. The website address issue is worth it alone, but the customizability of the .org version makes for a much more professional looking (and functioning) website. You’ll also notice that very few medical practices go with WordPress.com
This brings me to the two ways you can customize your WordPress.org site; themes and plugins.
Fortunately for those of us who don’t know the color wheel from a hole in the ground, talented designers around the world have come up with thousands of WordPress themes. Many of them are free and some are so beautiful, they are worth the $50 to install them. You can browse themes here.
Just as there are a boat-load of themes, WordPress has a ton of plugins (38,636 to be exact). Plugins expand the functionality of your website and for the most part they are also free. They install with the click of a button and can really jazz up your site.
The number of plugins can be a bit overwhelming, so I have made a list of some basics.
These first three plugins are essentials for any kind of website, medical or otherwise. Though, they don’t make your website look any fancier, they give important functionality.
Just like your home address, email, and phone, your website will eventually attract junk mail. This plugin does a great job recognizing and flagging spammy messages. The ability to filter these can save you a lot of time and annoyance.
This is a WordPress goodie bag. With it, you get your self-hosted (.org) website hooked into a bunch of WordPress.com features like analytics, speed, and social sharing. It will also send you an email if your site goes down.
This is the simplest way to implement search engine optimization (SEO). SEO will help more people find you when they search Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Front End Gems
These next few plugins add functionality and pizazz that will impress your website visitors.
This is a nice multifunctional plugin to use for patient quotes. Testimonials can be displayed on one or more pages, as a slider or widget, individually or in groups. The plugin also allows the use of star ratings and images.
You can use this plugin to create brief lay summaries of complex medical terms. The summaries show up in little blurbs when you hover over the defined words. I like to use this plugin to create a Condition & Treatment page for practice websites.
This Frequently Asked Questions plugin can be customized to match your website colors and format. I like it because you can fill a whole page with clickable questions or display select FAQs in widgets or sliders on other pages.
Learn more about WordPress.org, including how to install it, here.
If you have any WordPress tips or tricks for medical practices, please share them in the comments below.