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BLOG: Functional Personality

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So you’ve got your site running, it’s hosted, it’s out on the net, people can find you on the internet if they know your practice name, they’ve been able to find you loosely in random searches thanks to the bit of SEO you’ve dabbled in, but what do you do to make them want to find you? How do you stand out from the group, and make your site one worth noticing? Forget everything you know about marketing your business. Make it personal, make it functional, and (we’ll get to this on another issue, but it’s important to note here) make it mobile capable.

As we mentioned on the first post, you’re not marketing to mom and pop, or the generation you’ve been working with for the last couple 3 decades. Your largest customer base is going to quickly become the newly adult millennials who care only about the facts and information that they can access quickly. An up-to-date architecture and extremely fine-tuned website design are paramount to reaching this audience. More important than design though, is the fact that to reach this younger generation, you have to be a person, and not a company. These stats from Shoutlet shed a bit of light on that fact:

“95% of millennials say that friends are the most credible source of product information. 98% of millennials are more likely to engage with a friend’s post over a brand’s post. Our research reveals that the best way for brands to get their messages heard by millennials is to market with them. For millennials, their peers are the number one place they go to for product information. Brands need to forego traditional advertising and instead work to build relationships with millennial advocates and empower them to share brand stories with their friends.”– shoutlet.com

What that means for your website is you’re going to have to adapt to interact with them on your site. Articles, Q&A sections for advice and basic treatments, a “contact us” section that allows them to fill in preset fields, and send an email to the doctor straight from the site. Doctors have unique ability to bridge this generation gap better than most professionals, as your business is, by merit of what it is, a personal field. With that in mind, however, and to further put the importance of reaching the millennials into perspective, here’s a bit fromallbusiness.com:

“…the Millennial Generation. Also known as Generation Y, this 80-million-strong legion of Americans born between 1982 and 2000 already exceeds the baby boomers in size and influence — and someday will rival them in affluence. It’s a market no small business can afford to ignore.”

Long story, short, these ‘kids’ are all grown up, and they don’t live in the same world that existed 20 or even 10 years ago. The game has changed, and today, the game is being a face to put with the stethoscope.

The next and possibly the more important of the two subjects we’re focusing on today is being functional. For our purposes we’ll call it logic, because when you get down to it, it is. Where is the logic? In essence the logic is in how you lay out your design. Things have to be intuitive, they have to be credible, and they have to be clear. What do we mean by that? So, on the intuitive front, your site needs to flow, and be smooth as butter when a user visits. You essentially want the individual on there to be able to navigate it even if they don’t speak internet, and especially if they do. Visually, things have to make sense, because you won’t get a second chance to get them on your site if it doesn’t.

“First impressions can last for years. And there’s an abundance of research to prove it. One study found that the NBA players’ careers are determined by their position in the draft, regardless of their on-court performance. Another study finds that subsequent impressions, no matter how contradictory, can never make up for the first impression – bringing a more than literal meaning to the saying that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” –kinesisinc.com

Credibility is an odd one, because it sounds like it should be self-explanatory, but it’s not. Yes, you’re a doctor, but in this day and age, that doesn’t mean you’re a good doctor. You want to impress that you are upon your untrusting millennial audience, who needs more than your PhD on the wall to buy it, much less pay you for your services. How do you do this? Here’s a website from Stanford with the basic guidelines on building credibility for your site. Follow their guides, and you’ll be well on the right track. As for clarity, it’s very close to your site being intuitive but more about messaging, rather than design. Make sure that what you’re putting out into the world is exactly what you want to be interpreted, because if you’re not crystal, your potential clients can, and will find some way to be confused, upset, put off, or otherwise made disinterested by what you’re releasing. You don’t have to listen to us though, yourbusiness.azcentral.comput out a convincing bit that perfectly conveys this point:

“Lack of clarity in business communication causes misinformation, mistakes, unhappy customers, frustrated employees, and information lags that make companies look bad and affect profits. If a supervisor assumes that workers know the proper way to ship products, the company might discover that it pays more than it should for shipping. A customer letter that is full of jargon and long, convoluted sentences will probably not be read completely, and might put the customer off. An occasional warning to be mindful of safety is not as effective as providing workers with a detailed manual for achieving zero-tolerance requirements concerning accidents in the workplace.”

In essence, make sure your site is one that appeals, and informs, while being personal, and useful. If you can tackle those hurdles, you’ll be well on your way to a phenomenal website, with an extremely impressive user experience. Stay tuned for next week’s issue, where we talk about mobile sites, and the importance of recognizing the needs of the mobile user.