Low-down on Logos


Low-down on Logos

At Silicon Practice we’re often asked about logo design, so we have put together some tips to help you come up with a logo which looks as good on your signage and stationery as it does on your website and social media.


Our hints and tips

  1. Be clear on why you need a logo 
    Most organisations and businesses use a logo to communicate instantly what their business stands for and to differentiate themselves from the competition.In an NHS environment, where most patients go to their designated GP, competition with other practices isn’t normally the issue. In this setting, a logo’s purpose is usually to create a good first impression and deliver the message that you are a professional and trusted organisation. As a first step, talk to your team about the purpose of the logo. This will provide valuable information that will help drive the design process.
  2. Select your design
    Logo designs come in many forms. Most modern logos use merely the name of their organisation in a special font with no graphic.  Just think of Coca-Cola, NHS, Sainsbury’s, eBay, YouTube and Skype.  Nike does have a graphic, its famous swoosh, but this is so memorable and simple that even when you see it without the wording you know what it represents.
  3. Keep it simple
    The example of Nike brings us to the next point about the importance of simplicity. If you do intend to use a graphic, don’t try to tell a story in your logo.  Remember your logo needs to work on all mediums so it’s best to keep the number of shapes, lines and other design elements to a minimum to make the logo as distinct and clear as possible.
  4. Size
    Keeping your logo simple will help ensure it is scalable. For example, a logo should work on something the size of a postage stamp and on something as large as exterior signage.In this day and age more people are likely to see your logo online rather than on signage and correspondence.  This means that it needs to shrink to perhaps no more than 100 pixels high. This is why major brands stick to their name as their logo, using a special font, to ensure it is digital media-friendly.
  5. Shape
    If you layer your Practice’s name on top or around the icon in your logo, then your Practice’s name can be harder to read. And if you have text such as a strapline within the icon, it will be harder to see the icon, much less grasp what it means. Separating these two elements from one another will make them both easier to read and understand.
  6. Does that come in red?
    Colour is important. Use a colour that will evoke the right feelings and mood among those who see it. If a logo requires colour or special effects to make it a strong logo, then the chances are it’s not up to scratch.Modern designs tend to use simple colour palettes with one or maybe two colours. This is because the simple colour palettes actually create the sense of “more” colour. This reductionist method of design gives each individual colour the space to shine. Think of Asda, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose.View your chosen design in black and white first and add colour later. This allows you to focus on the shape and concept rather than the special effects. Avoid using shading on a logo. It looks dated and it doesn’t photocopy well.

We hope our hints and tips give you some useful ideas to start your logo design process.

To summarise you’ll find that you can spend a lot of time designing a graphic when in fact a good logo is often represented by special font.

And just one more mention of that iconic Nike swoosh. It was designed in 1971 by a student, who was paid $35. Founder Phil Knight said “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me”!

To chat further about logo design, or website design in general, please get in touch with the team atSilicon Practice.

Coming Soon! How to build excitement around your new website or new services


Coming Soon! How to build excitement around your new website or new services

Comparing the world of GP websites and the movie industry may be a stretch of the imagination, but believe it or not there are lessons to be drawn.

When the first trailer for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace came out in 1998 it could only be seen by cinema-goers, shown on screen before they settled down to the main movie.

By the time the second trailer was released, Lucasfilm had teamed up with Apple to release it on Quicktime. That trailer became the biggest download event at the time, with 6.4 million downloads over three weeks. And, as we all know, Phantom Menace went on to become a box office phenomenon which kick started the new Star Wars series, fuelled in part by the anticipation that was built around it.

So what does this have to do with primary care?

We believe this idea of harnessing the power of online messages to create “teasers” for the main event is one that many organisations – GP practices included – can make use of.

The “coming soon” pages on your website, if used correctly, can make your audiences keen to find out about new services, such as physio services, new opening times or new staff who may be joining you with specialisms.

So here are our tips on making the most of your “coming soon” pages:

  1. Fortunately, just putting the words “coming soon” or “under construction” is largely a thing of the past. Instead, use the power of the web to give really positive messages. Use a few sentences by way of introduction. But keep it short – don’t give everything away all at once, otherwise there is no reason for patients to visit for the “big reveal”.
  2. Keep the “teaser” going. Add some more information a little at a time. That way you’ll help to build anticipation. It’s a tactic used to great effect by advertisers – you just need to take a leaf out of their book.
  3. If you use social media add a hashtag. Hashtags make people feel included, and in the know, and give your visitors the impression that people are talking about your new service.
  4. Finally, why not be even more proactive? You can use the coming soon pages to engage visitors. For example, you could issue an invitation to your patient group to help test your new website (if you’re having one).

“Coming soon” messages need not be the dull affairs that they once were. Go online to make an effective “trailer” for your new website or services. You may not be about to release Jurassic World but you can certainly avoid being a dinosaur about the potential of a “coming soon” page.

For more tips on making the most of your website, please get in touch with the team at Silicon Practice.

Online self-help: encouraging patient take-up


Online self-help: encouraging patient take-up

In last month’s newsletter we reported on the demand audit carried out by Hertfordshire-based Lea Valley Health. The exercise threw up some interesting findings, and just one which stuck out was how little patients were using online self-help or advice prior to making an appointment. Of those surveyed, just 2% used the surgery website to ‘self-help’ and a further 19% used other services, such as NHS 111.

It’s clear that the default position for 79% of patients surveyed was to go straight to the doctor. And it seems likely that this is reflected at practices across the country.

So how do you encourage patients to seek help first? Given how stretched practices are, the more you can pre-empt the tendency to go straight to the GP – without, of course, putting patients at risk – the better.

Five practical tips

This month, we will look five measures practices can take to guide patients towards trusted self-help before they make a phone call to the practice or make an appointment.

  1. Be succinct. Home in on just a few issues at any one time – subjects that are relevant to your patients, the things that they are phoning about. Avoid the temptation of putting in an exhaustive list of everything you can think of and creating a long-winded and off-putting A-Z of self-help.
  2. Be topical. Highlight features that are current to the time of year such as hay fever or travel in the summer; colds and flu in the winter. Taking the time to keep a content calendar can pay dividends.
  3. Concentrate on giving advice, write text that addresses your patients’ issues and make your copy clear and simple. People have a very limited attention span when reading online, so text that gets to the point and solves their issue, or gives them direction, will be the most effective.
  4. Structure the copy so it gives clear instructions. Focus on what the patient can do now, when they should seek medical help, and where can they go for advice. The move to mobile – with so many people accessing websites via smart phone or tablet – has only strengthened the argument for writing short, direct instructions.
  5. Measure the results. As a simple starting point, look at the analytics on your website to see what impact the content is having. You’ll soon know what does and doesn’t work and you can adjust your text where necessary.

These five simple steps taken together should not only increase the use of your website, but encourage patients to take a self-help route first.

And finally, educate your patients about the features of your website and how it can help them get their answers more quickly. Don’t make the website your practice’s best kept secret!

Survey shows many appointments unnecessary


Survey shows many appointments unnecessary

We know primary healthcare is under pressure. And we also know, at least anecdotally, that GPs are seeing patients who could have been assisted in other ways, perhaps by a pharmacist or a nurse. But how does a practice prove that some appointments are unnecessary, and by what proportion?


Lea Valley Health Federation Proves the Case

One federation comprising eight practices – Lea Valley Health, in Hertfordshire – did just this by conducting a demand audit among patients visiting not just the practices, but the minor injury units and community pharmacies within its area.

The startling results have paved the way for a restructure of primary care in the locality, to improve efficiency, save costs and – most importantly – improve patient care.

And a major part in this redesign is being played by the FootFall websites, commissioned by the federation and now being rolled out across the practices.

Richard Moore is the business manager of Lea Valley Health, which serves a population of 75,500.

“We knew that many appointments were being taken up by patients who didn’t really need to be seen by a doctor. Our clinical lead in the locality could see that the demand was greater than reflected in our funding, but we wanted to demonstrate the extent of this.”

The survey had a fantastic uptake – some 10,000 responses capturing the clinicians’ and patients’ views; 76% of those asked agreed to take part.

Crucially the results revealed that nearly a quarter – 24% – of all GP consultations could be managed by a suitable appropriate pathway, one of which would be the FootFall websites.

The survey also revealed 79% of patients did not seek self-help or advice for their condition, and of those only 2% did so using the surgery website – another argument for bringing in FootFall, to encourage patients to help themselves, and so take pressure off GPs.

One surprising results was the split of reception time: 50:50 between appointment-related demand and non-appointment related demand. Demand here can be alleviated by encouraging patients to self-help, again through the introduction of FootFall.

Richard said: “The results were what we needed to make the necessary changes. Our federation was set up in 2014, but until recently we hadn’t gone very far in terms of working together and sharing best practice. The results of the survey have really been the catalyst for us to make changes, which include the introduction of FootFall.”

The challenge now for Lea Valley Health is to encourage patients to use FootFall.

Said Richard: “We need to educate patients, otherwise we won’t see the benefits. To help with this, we applied for funding from the Eastern Academic Health Science Network, and we needed the evidence of the survey to back our application. We were given funding for a one-year post for a locality engagement officer, who has now started and whose task is to promote FootFall use among patients.”

It is too early to ascertain how much difference FootFall is making. But Richard plans to measure the success of all the changes in a year’s time, and prove that innovations like FootFall can improve services for patients and take pressure off practices.

Richard will be speaking at the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire LMC GP & Practice Managers Conference on this topic on Thursday 11 May. Silicon Practice will be holding a FootFall workshop at the same conference.  If you are attending this event, we look forward to seeing you.

For more information about FootFall, please get in touch with the team here at Silicon Practice.

Fancy a chat? One more way your website can increase patient access.


Fancy a chat? One more way your website can increase patient access.

Online live chat is growing in popularity with businesses. If you’ve a problem with your phone, why waste time getting through to BT on your mobile or landline – just opt for ‘live chat’ on the website. Want to ask about a product before purchase? Try live chat. Need customer services? Once again, live chat is a convenient option.

But live chat isn’t just the domain of retailers. It is also a service that is being evaluated by, who see it as giving a useful alternative contact channel for their users.

GP practices can equally benefit, adding chat to the range of ways patients can communicate with them. Which is why at Silicon Practice, we have added ‘Chat’ to the range of services that FootFall can provide.

What are the benefits of Chat?

One GP practice which has been trialling Chat over the last few weeks is the Waterfield Practice in Bracknell.

Waterfield is a practice with 12,500 patients and two sites. Its FootFall website went live in February last year, and has had a huge impact in terms of reducing workload for staff by driving patients towards online services.

So, has Chat helped the team? And has it improved communication with patients?

Gary Hughes, Practice Manager, explained why Waterfield went ahead.

“I really like online chats. Just the other day, I was buying some chairs and wanted to check details of the warranty, so I used an online chat service. In the same way, we felt this type of function could benefit patients.”

Currently, three of the practice team – Gary and two admin staff – are tasked with answering the online live enquiries. So is this proving yet one more thing to do in an already busy day?

“In some ways, Chat goes against the aim of FootFall, which is to free up staff from dealing with on-demand enquiries from patients. But in fact, I don’t think this is an issue. Chat is very easy to turn off and on, and keep an eye on. Although at the moment the three of us are responding to Chat while we are doing office duties, I would envisage that it could be run effectively by reception teams who are also dealing with patients face-to-face and over the phone.”

Has Chat increased communications with patients?

“We gave Chat a very soft launch, and it is getting very little use at the moment, but it is early days. However, we have plans to promote it, which we can do in a number of ways, such as by making it more visible on the website, advertising it on our surgery TV screen, or through social media and in the leaflets we give out with prescriptions.

“Once patients are more familiar with it, I think it will be extremely useful for answering simple queries, such as whether a prescription is ready.”

Tips for making Chat a success

  • Put processes in place so Chat is monitored and responded to quickly when it is switched on
  • Provide training for the team tasked to use it
  • Target promotion towards the patients who are most likely to use it

Finally, as Gary says, go for it!

“While we embraced FootFall from the first, we were a bit cautious about promoting Chat. On reflection, we should have really thrown ourselves into it from day one then it would be really up and running.”

If you could like to chat about Chat for your FootFall site, or talk about Footfall in general, please get in touch with the team here at Silicon Practice.