Ronda Nelson: Well, hello and welcome back to The Clinical Entrepreneur podcast. I’m your host, Ronda Nelson. I’m super excited to be with you today and take a little time-out to just chat with you wherever you are. I want to talk today about your website and what kind of questions you may want to ask any web designer. I’ve been through the gamut as far as website creation goes. I have three different businesses, and I’m actually right in the middle of a website rebrand for one of my businesses. I’m thankful now that I have a great web designer. He’s phenomenal. I’ll tell you that early on, I did not have such a great experience with websites, and I would bet that if you and I were sitting over a table at a coffee shop, you would probably have a horror story to tell me about your website. I hear them all the time.
Before I get into what you need to ask, I think we need to have a little basic conversation about why your website is important. I’m always surprised at the number of practitioners that I come in contact with that say, “Oh, no, I don’t have a website.” And listen, I have no problem with that if you are the person that has a line down the street of people wanting to get in with you. There are some, very few, but some practitioners who have practices like that, they’re just exceptional at it. They know how to communicate well. They have a referral. They’ve gotten in with a certain kind of group, and they just end up getting referral after referral after referral.
If that’s the case, in a heartbeat, you don’t need a website. The practitioners that say to me, “I don’t have a website,” are the ones that are struggling and want to be busier. I say, “Well, look, it used to be years ago that the only way that you could let somebody know about what you did was with a flier or a business card, but now your website is your business card. It’s your digital business card.” If you asked me, would you rather spend your money on super cool, awesome business cards, or would you rather have a super awesome, cool website? Hands down, I would choose a website because your website is how people find you.
Now, we’re all in this together. We search for everything online. When people are looking for practitioners, they’re looking online. They’re not going to just drive down to the corner and see the little sign that says acupuncture and just walk in. They’re going to do their homework and check it out. What are the reviews like? How long have they been there? What does their website look like? If you have just what I call a “dancing monkey” website or it’s outdated and looks like it was put together back in 2005, you are instantly going to lose credibility. I know it may not be a priority to you, but I’m here to tell you it needs to be a priority to you. Now, a basic, beautifully designed website, that’s good.
Used to be, when I did my first website, here’s my horror story. This was probably back in 2005 or 2006 maybe, I was in Northern California and I had my clinic. It was up and running, and I thought, okay, I need a website. I had the domain name and I thought, I need a website. I started asking around and somebody said they knew this guy. I said, “I would like to have products on my website for sale, ones that I could legally sell on my website.” He said, “Oh yeah, no problem, I can build that for you.” He never said anything about fees or costs, he just said there’s a $500 deposit, and then I’ll give you the markup with the first draft. Then if you’re happy, we’re going to make some revisions and at that time, I’ll collect another $500. He said it shouldn’t be more than about $1,500. I thought, well, that’s fine. I can do that. No problem.
I give him my $500, and I don’t hear from him for like six weeks. I’m calling and leaving messages. I actually wrote out a handwritten note and sent it to his address because I knew where he lived, and nothing. About six weeks later, he says, “Oh, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’ve just been really busy and I haven’t started on your website yet.” I said, “What?” I gave you $500. I didn’t say this to him because back in the day, I was a nice person. I’m still nice, but I would just smile and go, “Oh, okay,” but inside be furious. He said, “but I’ll have something for you within two weeks.” I said, “Well, can I count on you to do that?” He said, “Yes, in two weeks.”
In about three and a half weeks, he gave me the first draft of the website, and it was nothing. It was white, there were no pictures, and there was a little bit of copy on there. There were no internal pages, which are your services, about page, anything but your homepage. It was just a disaster and you can probably guess where this ended up. I ended up paying him a total of $1,500 after he got me a few things and then, the guy disappeared. He moved, and there was a for sale sign in the front yard. I never got my website, and I had waited about nine months at this point after I paid him $1,500. Now, shame on me for doing it. There was no contract, but I didn’t know. This was all new to me. I didn’t know what to do, what not to do.
Unfortunately, I hear this all the time. I recently heard a story from a practitioner on the East Coast, and she said she was going to work with Clinical Catalyst and decided not to do that. She said, “Well, I’m going to go work with another company.” And so, she went and worked with the other company. And then I heard back from her about a year or two later, and she said, “Yeah, I’m about $10,000 into my website, and it’s still not all the way finished.” I’m telling you, friend, I hear this stuff all the time. Your website is vital to the success of your business, but there are sharks in the bloody water that want to take your money and run. That’s why I put together these questions for you.
It is one of the most important things you can do to hire a good website designer. Whether you’re doing a brand-new site or you’re giving your existing one a facelift, who you choose to design your website is going to dictate the success of your website. Now, you also need to know that it’s recommended, to give your website a facelift every two to three years because technology changes and styles change. You want to stay current, contemporary, and make sure that the people that are finding you online look at you as being professional. We want to find the right web designer who can understand what you do and what you want. For bonus points, if you can find one that knows your niche, that’s even better because they’ll understand what types of things need to be on your website. When you vet out your web designer, it’s kind of like when you hire someone, so you’re looking at their qualifications and finding out if they really have the skills they need to.
Once you’ve done your due diligence and have asked these questions that I’m going to go over them with you, you’re going to know that you’ve got the right one. Now, I’m going to give you a lot of questions. Some of them are things that you’ll find out during the conversation but highlight the ones that you think are most important for you. Here are the few things that I want you to be aware of when you’re talking about hiring a web designer. First of all, just know, there are way more landmines. A red flag is that they’re cheaper than everyone else. Cheap is never a good idea here. I got burned once and I know lots of people who have. If there’s delay after delay, like what I had, it ends up being like thousands of dollars, which is a big warning sign, like a landmine grenade warning, do not continue. Another warning sign is if they don’t follow instructions. For instance, you say, I want this picture on the home page, I want this copy on the home page, I want this to be on the About page and they get it all messed up. That’s a bad sign.
Another one that’s a biggie is when the web designer will not give you access to the back-end. For those of you that don’t know that language or terminology, the back-end means the backside of your website. You should be able to log in to the back-end of your website and make changes. Now, some web designers don’t want you to do that because what they want to do is they want to hold you hostage to the website because either they’ve (A) built it on the platform where you have to know how to code. And if that’s the case, then (B) you have to have them make the changes, which means (C) you have to pay them to make those changes. Basically, your website is being held hostage by the web designer. If he or she, the web designer, decides that they don’t want to give it to you, you will lose your entire website. I have seen it happen.
Another thing that I see is some web designers will use stolen WordPress templates and they’ll use illegal images. When they put that up on your website, you then become liable. Years ago, I once got a $750 fine from Getty Images before I knew about all this for using a 1-inch x 1-inch thumbnail that we found on Google Images and we put it on our website. The Getty Images people have a big team and they just scour websites looking for “their pictures that are stolen.” We took the picture down immediately, but I had to pay $750. That was my fine for using the picture illegally. You don’t want to have that in your back pocket.
Sometimes, they won’t maintain the apps well, and apps are things that make your site work better. They’ll use cheap or free ones which are poorly maintained so they don’t work. Or your webmaster is not monitoring those to make sure they’re always updated. Just like the apps on your phone, apps for your website have to update every once in a while. If you have poorly maintained apps, that can cause your site to go down or create a really bad experience for a patient. Let’s say your scheduling calendar doesn’t work because an app went defunct and your web designer didn’t check it.
Also, another warning sign is that you do not want your web designer to own your domain name. You will have to give someone your password to be able to access your domain name because they have to do some changing of a few things, but that doesn’t hurt your ownership. But, if your web developer purchases your domain name, then technically they own it. You could spend all kinds of money getting a website developed, and at the end of the day, if you say, “Hey, I’m not happy with you, dude. I’m going to go somewhere else.” That guy can say, “Oh, sorry, sister, I own it,” and then you’re out.
Those are some pretty serious warning flags that you need to watch for. Here’s how you can get this list of 27 questions, you’re going to go to RondaNelson.com/webdesign, and that’s where you can get this freebie. I not only wrote the question, but I also gave you a little few lines for an answer. In other words, what you want to hear.
One of the questions that you need to ask is, am I responsible for providing all the copy for my website? Or are you going to just pull over what’s on my existing site? My response to that question is that they should ask you to provide any new copy, images, and pages you want to keep on your existing website. I’ve kind of given you an idea of what a good web designer’s response will be, but please don’t ask them all 27 questions because they will fire you. Don’t be that person.
Another question you could ask is if it’s a custom site. Are you going to design it from scratch or are you going to use a template? How much will it cost me in the future to add a page or to have your services if I need additional help? And who’s going to monitor the apps? You also want to see what their portfolio looks like. What kind of other websites have they created that you can preview? You want to know what their turnaround time is, and if the website going to be secure. Will it be mobile-friendly? These are a few of the questions that are on that freebie that will help you when you decide who you want to have design your website. I have to give, a big, huge shout-out to my web designer who helped me with these questions because I had quite a few, and he gave me a few more. His name is Keith, and he’s amazing. He does all of my websites and he works for Clinical Catalyst.
If you work with Clinical Catalyst, Keith is the guy who’s going to build your beautiful website. If you’re interested, it’s a wellness marketing platform for wellness practitioners who don’t want to write their own emails or blogs and don’t want to have a consistent social media presence. Instead, they want to look good online with a beautiful website and resources for their patients to drive engagement.
Working with someone who knows what they’re doing with the website is critical to keep you from getting burned, losing money, and then ending up in the worst-case scenario, where you don’t even own your content or your domain name at the end of the day. I don’t want that to happen to you.
Ronda Nelson: Well, friends, as I mentioned, I do have this amazing resource for you, just go to RondaNelson.com/webdesign, and you can download it for free. These 27 questions will give you help when it comes to vetting that potential website designer and help you weed out the fraudsters. My friend Keith helped me and as I mentioned, he’s been around a long time and has seen the dark side of the street when it comes to website shysters. I’m so thankful for him and the rest of the team at Clinical Catalyst because they work so hard to provide great service for practitioners who are in the wellness space.
I am also really thankful for you. If you want to have a personal conversation with me, head over to Instagram or Facebook. Tell me who you are, where you’re at in your business, and ask me a question about websites or any other business-related question. I would be happy to help because you, my friend, are amazing. The world needs us now more than ever before. The best way to make sure that your clinical superpower gets out is to make sure that your business is running at high octane all the time. That is my number one reason for showing up for you every single week because I want to help you make sure that your business is running smoothly on all four cylinders, and it gives you the ability to step out of that business to serve your people with even more integrity and more passion.