Do you need a website for your practice?

Realistically, these days the answer is going to be yes.

First you need to be clear on what the website will do for you. Are you looking for something as simple as contact details, or are you looking to replace your printed brochures and expand on them? Maybe you want a much more powerful Internet presence where you are blogging and involved with various social media sites.

Let’s get a little terminology sorted out. There are two components to a website. There is its name (domain name) and where the files and data for the site are stored (hosting). Both are very affordable, with domain names costing approximately $10 a year and hosting space from about $20 a year. How much you spend on the hosting space is going to be determined by what features you want on your website.

As a private practitioner your site is not going to get the tens of thousands of visitors a day that a commercial site has to get. This means you can successfully run a practice site on low-cost hosting.

Just like other places on this site you will have the same requirements to put together a successful site. You need to decide what you want it to do for you, you have to get it set up by you or by somebody else, and then there is the maintenance, which usually involves adding more data and updating details.

You also need to consider the e-mail address that your practice will have. My suggestion is you have one associated with the same domain name as your practice website. It’s very easy to arrange for any e-mail sent to this address to be forwarded to wherever you want to collect it. So if you have a domain name of, then you could have an e-mail address of and forward it to your current e-mail address. This looks professional and if you ever change your main e-mail account, then you change the forwarding address for your practice e-mail.

Now let’s look at some typical requirements for a website and possible solutions.

The simplest function is to make basic contact information available. Probably a good solution would be to set up a free account with LinkedIn and point your domain name at that account. Sometimes this is called Web forwarding. This means that you have no website to put together, and no hosting costs. In the future, of course, if you do find you need a hosted site, you can always have your domain name directed to that space.

The next type of site is a replacement for the paper brochures you may have. Clearly, you can have many pages and give a lot of information. Many companies offer low-cost hosting, and remember that’s where your files and data for the website live, and included in the price there will be software that allows you to easily put together a multi-page website. You’ll also be able to log in at any time and change the details. An alternative to using their software to build your website is to pay somebody else. You must make sure that any such site will be on your hosting space: or rather the hosting space you control. This allows you to control costs or have other website developers do future work for you.

If you’re looking to use social media as a major strategy for attracting clients, then undoubtedly you’ll need a website which is much richer in functionality. It must be able to tie into your social accounts in a useful way. In addition you will need to have an easy way of adding content whenever necessary. Blogging is the obvious solution. Blogs don’t have to be about personal things, a business blog can be about issues that affect your clients. I think the best solution here is some cheap hosting space that will run free software called WordPress. This software represents a high percentage of all websites that have blogs. It is easy to set up and easy to manage. Then again you can always pay somebody to do the initial setup, after which you can run it yourself.

The next situation is where you are looking to attract your clients directly from the Internet, where they type something into a search engine and your site appears at the top of the page. Here you’re looking at what is called search engine optimisation (SCO). This is a very big and complex subject. Once again, WordPress is probably the best place to start; there are also numerous free extensions to this software to add the features that will help you to appear nearer the top of the search engine results.

In summary, if you own your own domain name, that is, the website name, you have flexibility and freedom. The type of site you need is going to be determined by how you intend to use it. It could cost you nothing or be quite expensive if you involve designers inputting together a site that meets your requirements. As always, you need to be clear up front as to what you are doing, and be purposeful. What do you need to get the attention of your potential clients? This is what should drive your decisions about the type of website you want.