Top Ten Wellness Website Best Practices: What Works, What Doesn’t

Clients who want an independent check on their website designers and developers often ask us to conduct an objective review of their website.

Based on that experience, we developed this cheat sheet of the ten best practices for health clubs, yoga studios, wellness centers and healthy lifestyle businesses.

Print it, then launch your wellness website and compare it to the checklist.

You’ll quickly see where you’re on track and where you need to redirect your web team’s efforts.

1) Give your homepage a one-sentence headline or tagline

The purpose of this headline is to make it very easy for a new site visitor to say to herself, “OK, this health club looks promising…I’ll spend a few more seconds checking it out.”

2) Drop the homepage slideshows

These gimmicky fads take up the most important half of your home page.

And they’re usually nothing but stock graphics, meaningless pictures of shiny health club equipment or the butts of people doing “downward dog” in a dimly lit yoga studio.

Folks, this does nothing to bring people into your wellness center.

Use these slideshows only if you have meaningful photos of your actual wellness business and your own customers…AND you have something unusual or distinctive to show people.

Include very brief text – usually emphasizing the point of the image plus an appropriate call to action – with each image.

3) Orient your homepage around no more than three key tasks

What are the top three things that new site visitors usually want to do?

Build the homepage for your healthy lifestyle business around those three things.

4) Include videos only when they tell a story

A three-minute video of a group fitness class labeled “Check Out Our Group Fitness Class” tells potential clients nothing.

What do you want them to notice in the video? Why are you asking them to spend 3 minutes of their lives watching it? Is this really the most compelling three minutes of video about your business you can possibly come up with?

Then, label the video with a relevant and curiosity-inspiring description: “Pizzazz Classes Combine Fitness & Humor.” Consider freeze-framing scenes and adding either voiceover narration or text callouts on the video itself to draw attention to what’s important.

5) Every page of your website should have an email signup

Include a prominent email signup near the top of the homepage – definitely not on the bottom half of the page. Include the signup on sub-pages, too.

Do not rely exclusively on Facebook and Twitter. Conversion rates (turning site visitors into customers) are notoriously low for businesses that rely only on these sources.

6) Every page should have full location information

Include your yoga studio, wellness center or health club’s full street address, city, state, zipcode and phone number with area code on every page.

It helps customers visit or contact you and it helps your visibility in local search results.

7) Provide full contact information on your Contact page

Full contact information builds trust and confidence that your healthy lifestyle business is the real deal. Even more important, it makes it super-easy for potential and current customers to reach you.

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar facility or operate exclusively online, your Contact page must provide the business street address, phone number with area code, and an email address that is checked at least daily.

Tell people when they can expect to hear back – one business day? Two business days?

A “contact us” form is not enough.  Some folks don’t want to include an email address because spammers will use it. But that’s like refusing to provide your business phone number because you’ll get telemarketing calls.

Spam’s easy to deal with. Use your webhost’s spam filter, your email client’s spam filter, and/or the spam filters provided for free by your email provider. If a few spam emails still make it through, just press the Delete button. Simple.

8) Drop inactive “community” features

If you don’t regularly blog, tweet, post to Facebook or LinkedIn, respond to posts on your message board, or use your site’s chat feature – turn those features off and remove them from your site.

And remember: you’re asking for everyone’s email address (right?), so make sure you communicate at least monthly via email, usually through a newsletter.

9) Continually add customer comments

Nothing sells your wellness business as effectively (or as cheaply) as your customers’ words do – especially when the list of comments is long.

Every health and wellness site should include comments from customers. Date them – “Leslie, April 2011″ – so that it’s clear that you’ve got years and years of happy clients.

Continually add the latest comments and feedback. If your Feedback or Testimonials page still has only the same five comments that it had a year ago, you’re dropping the ball.

10) Provide meaningful product and service information

Don’t just say “Lifestyle coaching – $125/hour.” That’s like describing your mom’s fabulous multi-course gourmet Thanksgiving dinner as “turkey with sides.”

For each key wellness program or service, provide:

  • a reasonably full description of what it is
  • how it makes the customer’s life better
  • what their experience will involve
  • the price range (“Starts at $375″)
  • comments from customers of this particular service

Explain who it’s best suited to, and why. Compare it to their competitive alternatives.

And address any common worries or concerns that new clients commonly have about this wellness service or program.

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