Run for Your Businesses’ Life! Missing these Red Flags’ in a Medical Website Designer Will Cost You

I promise you, if even one of the items I’ve listed out below is present in an individual or medical website designer you’re interviewing to build you a website, run for the hills. Don’t walk, no dilly-dallying, just run.

And I’m not being dramatic.

There’s a reason I write so passionately about “red flags to watch out for”, “questions to ask a digital marketing consultant before working with them” and “how to screen a digital marketing consultant” etc. Almost every week I encounter private practices being held hostage either by their web designer, their marketing consultant, their social media manager or a combination of the three. Unfortunately, the worst and most common consequence of working with the wrong people is that you lose your web properties – your own business’ assets! The very properties that are supposed to be delivering your business a positive return on your investment!

I’ve seen Google My Business pages stolen (along with dozens of great customer reviews), I’ve seen Facebook pages hijacked, but worst of all I have seen private practices lose thousands of dollars by never truly having full-control over the website they paid for. It’s wrong and it’s upsetting to see so many hard-working and ethical medical service providers being taken advantage of. So here we go with a non-exhaustive list of red flags to watch out for when looking for a medical website designer:

1. They build websites on their own proprietary Content Management System.

Proprietary Content Management Systems are archaic and unnecessary. Back in the 90’s I’m sure they were all the rage but in 2003 the development of WordPress wiped-out all need for proprietary Content Management Systems. A whopping 30% (and growing) of all websites use WordPress as their content management system. The only asterisk I’m going to add here is that there are some very, very large organizations that can benefit from using a proprietary CMS for security reasons. There is no reason a small to medium sized medical service provider needs a website on a proprietary CMS. To summarize, look for a medical website designer who offers to build you a WordPress website.

2. They try to convince you that a non-open source platform is better than an open-source platform.

You may have heard of Wix, Square Space and other “drag and drop” website builders. In my opinion, they’re cute and fun for a bit but absolutely substance-less. They will undoubtedly cause you problems in the long term. An open-source platform like WordPress is the way to go. Open-source means the original source code is made freely available. This means that you will have complete control to manipulate, enhance or change the design and function of your website. I like WordPress because it offers the most straight-forward user experience on a universal platform so my clients are safe to use it in the long-run.

3. They won’t give you admin access to the back end of the website after it’s built.

This one speaks for itself. Your website is basically the “digital office location” of your business. You should think of it as an asset, a piece of property etc. You wouldn’t allow someone to build you a home without giving you the keys to the front door. The same goes for your website. Hopefully, I have convinced you to look for a website designer/developer who can build you a website in WordPress. Once they have done so, make sure they give you full (not limited) access to the back-end of your site.

4. They charge you monthly fees.

You should not be charged monthly fees by a medical website designer – or any designer for that matter – for the ‘management’ of your website. If you pay for your hosting and domain separately (which I always encourage my clients to do) there’s nothing happening on the website that needs managing. Search Engine Optimization, blogging and other marketing activities aside of course.

5. They won’t tell you who your hosting provider is and (shocker) they won’t give you access to your hosting account.

Most web design/development agencies are re-selling hosting. They use BlueHost, GoDaddy or HostGator just as you could if you bought directly from the source. Web design/development agencies know this so some of them try to hide who they are reselling hosting for so you can’t see the massive mark-up they’re charging you. Save yourself the hassle and just purchase your own domain and hosting from one of the big names.

6. They charge you for EVERY website change.

This is as bad as charging monthly fees. Large website changes, redesigns etc. are fair game. However, changing headers, adding images or other small tasks should either be completed free of charge or handed off to the business owner (who has full-access to their own website as per rule #2) to complete themselves.

7. They use “custom” analytics dashboards and won’t give you access to your direct Google Analytics account.

There is absolutely no need for ‘custom’ analytics dashboards and unlike custom CMS platforms there never was! I can’t blame this one on the 90’s. The only analytics platform you need to worry about is Google Analytics. Make sure you have opened a Google Analytics account (it’s easy), ask the web developer to install the tracking pixel on the website (that part will be easy for any basic developer), and that’s it! All data related to your website will now be cached in Google Analytics where you’ll be free to analyze it to your hearts content.