Build A Better Website

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“A Web page isn’t a place the way Starbucks is a place. A Web page is a step in a process. The steps on the stoop in front of your house understand (if steps understand anything) that they exist in order to get you up or down. If you asked the architect what any particular step is for, she wouldn’t hesitate. The answer is obvious. The purpose of this step is to get you to the next step. That’s it. “
– Seth Godin

More and more mental health professionals have a website or are thinking seriously about creating one.  And it’s exciting to see your name out there in lights for all the world to see!  So you build “About Us” pages, talk about your education and credentials, briefly discuss your services, present a “Contact Us” page, set up a series of links, and you may even decide to write several paragraphs about your psychotherapeutic model.  We forget, as Seth Godin mentions above, that a web page is “a step in the process”.  It’s a marketing tool designed to get viewers from point A to point B.

A visitor does one of five things when they come to a website:

  • A visitor clicks and goes somewhere else you want her to go.
  • A visitor clicks and gives you permission to follow up by email or phone.
  • A visitor clicks and buys something.
  • A visitor tells a friend, either by clicking or by blogging or phoning or talking.
  • A visitor does none of the above and moves on to something else.

Good web design recognizes that a website is not literature and it’s not simply information sharing.  At its core, it’s a marketing tool, and as such, each page should be designed to get the viewer from one place to the next.  To move the viewer from “passerby” to “frequent visitor” to “friend” to “customer”.

So whether you are an experienced web user or are thinking about building a website, here are a few important tips to move you in the right direction.

  • Look at each web page as a separate entity and work toward having a single or primary point of focus for each page.  (The reader may notice that this blogger is still struggling mightily to accomplishing this task!)
  • Avoid the interesting but irrelevant link phenomenon. Why? Because people who are presented with numerous choices tend to lose their way quickly.  No clarity of purpose, no sale.
  • The purpose of a Web page is to start a conversation. Create a consistent tone and offer an opportunity for people to participate and be a part of the discussion.
  • Contact is a good thing. At the very least offer your visitors a way to reach you.  A better option would be to offer viewers an opportunity to participate by signing up for something.
  • Choice is a bad thing. When faced with too many choices, people get frustrated and leave quickly.  You only have 10 seconds to engage a visitor to your site.  Again, clarity of purpose is essential.
  • Focus on “A Call To Action” for the person viewing the site. What do you want the customer to do when they are on a specific web page?  I say it should be one of two things. (1) Tell a friend about the website or (2) Get them to commit to something. (sign up to receive a copy of an article you wrote, or a tip sheet for parents on how to deal with a troubled adolescent, or sign up to receive information from your blog)
  • Less words and more visuals. People will not read a lot of text.  Avoid paragraphs!
  • Less discussion about features/service details and more talk about the customer. It’s far more powerful speaking to a customers needs versus droning on about the scope of your services.  Build interest and trust by speaking to their needs and offering solutions.

If you would like to discuss this topic further feel free to post a comment or contact me directly at



  1. lisa wilson  February 19, 2009

    hi david,
    i’m enjoying the blogposts you’re sending out. this one abut webpages is especially interesting to me since i don’t have one and recognize the need. do you have any suggestions for someone who might help a person in our field set up a page? or any other suggestions? having just moved to charleston, i need to network and get my name out but suffer from not having an officebase yet. i’ve sent out a letter to several therapists/psychiatrists/psychologists in the immediate area as an introduction but haven’t heard from anyone yet.

    thanks so much for providing your expertise!

  2. David Diana  February 19, 2009

    Hi Lisa. I only have a few moments so I will post briefly now ad then see if i can give you more resources later on.. The web has become so easy to use and so sophisticated that you can look at developing a basic site on your own and on the cheap. is a company focusing on blogs (essentially the same thing as a website). My website is, in fact, a WordPress template! You can use templates free of charge or can pay a one time fee for a fancier one (about $75). is another. They will also help you with hosting options. If you want to go a little slicker you can take a look at or look at The great thing about all of them is that you can edit and add content, upload photos etc… without needing to know how to use html code. Take a peek at these and let me know what you think. And then give me a call and we can talk about getting you networked into the community!

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