Commissioning a website for your new federation can be daunting. You want something that reflects who you are as a business, and that meets all yours and your members’ needs. However, these requirements are likely to evolve throughout the process of launching your business. So, to make life easier we’ve taken a look at the three phases that health care providers go through when planning their new website.
Phase 1 Establishing your Identity and Presence
In the beginning you are going to want to establish your presence and let the world know who you are, what your structure is and your organisations purpose is. Typically this is the stage where your site provides a way of meeting governance requirements; allowing you to publish agendas and meeting minutes as well as getting valuable feedback from members.
Even at this very early stage of development your website should be providing benefits for your organisation. While these might be the ‘softer’ benefits they are equality important, especially is establishing an identity which your members can all relate too. Many health businesses report that after establishing their visual identity online their member practices developed a stronger sense of belonging to their organisation.
- What will your website have on it?
At the start this will probably be very simple, containing your organisations name, contact details, important documents and member details. It’s better to start with a smaller amount of information that is useful than to throw in a lot of information which isn’t much use just to bulk up the site.
- What first impression do you want your site to make?
This is something you want to establish right at the beginning of the website launch, do you want it to convey trust? Professionalism? Exclusivity? Or perhaps a mixture of all three.
Phase 2 – Promoting your Services
When you start to introduce your services you’ll probably reach a stage when you are looking to evolve your website to the next phase. Your website gives you an opportunity to explain essential information about your services to patients. Typical questions that can be answered on your website are:
- Where do I need to go to access your services?
- Why isn’t this service being offered at the local hospital or by my own GP?
- How do I prepare?
- What can I expect from the consultation?
- Who can I contact if can’t make my appointment
You’ll find that by answering these common questions from patients from the outset will allow you to cut down on the number of phone calls you receive and DNA’s.
Phase 3 – Collaboration with Members
As your organisation grows your member practices will become more proactively engaged with your organisation. At this stage your website will typically have a private members area that is available via a login. This area will encourage your members to view important documents and share and debate ideas online. While this has the benefit of encouraging member engagement within your organisation it also has the added benefit of cutting down on meeting times.
You may want to generate eNewsletters via your website to keep everyone informed about your plans, ask for opinions via forums and publish draft minutes.
Planning your website shouldn’t be a worry and you really don’t need to do everything all at once. If you have established the needs of your patients, the public and your members as your organisation evolves you have the start of a blueprint for the evolution of your website.