What Therapists Need to Know Before Hiring a Website Designer

 
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Building a good website to support your business is an essential step in running a private practice. More than a glorified resume, a website can gather client leads, provide valuable resources, and convert visitors into clients - if it’s set up correctly.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t learn much about developing a solid private practice web presence when I was in grad school for counseling and art therapy. Luckily, there are experts ready to help you use the internet to grow your practice so you don’t have to spend another few years mastering yet another area of expertise.

If you’re considering hiring a web designer to build your private practice website, there are a few things I think you should know before taking the plunge.

1. know if you’re truly ready

When I was a therapist, my clients would usually come to me with a presenting issue, but as the therapeutic process unfolded, much more stuff came up (I know - I’m preaching to the choir here). In order to address the thing that brought them into therapy, we had to untangle the web of underlying issues.

Having a website designed for you is a very similar process. While your designer probably won’t ask about your relationship with your parents, you will have to take a deep look at yourself and your business in order to provide accurate information from which your website can be designed.

Being confident in and fully committed to growing your business is a good start. Nothing brings up an existential crisis like trying to design a website when you’re not really sure if you want to be in private practice in the first place.

I usually recommend being in business for at least 2 years before I design a therapist’s full website for this reason - I’m generalizing here (and everyone has a different timeline) - but usually after 2 years, a therapist has a sustainable caseload, they’ve done the challenging legwork of putting all of the foundational business pieces in place, and they’re starting to really hone in on their niche.

If you’re still in the start-up phase of private practice, you might not be ready to hire a designer, but you don’t have to settle for a mediocre website. Check out my DIY website guide or this blog post to get started on your own.

2. know what you need

Website design services vary greatly in terms of what’s included. Website designers will usually just handle the design portion (which includes the site structure & layout), while website developers will handle the build (actually putting the design pieces together on your site). Do you want to hire a designer and developer, or do you want to hire someone that does both?

In addition, it’s important to know what you need your website to do. Do you want to include a blog? Would you like clients to schedule appointments from your website? Do you need a Shop (eCommerce) page? These are all questions a web designer will ask you.

Aside from knowing the types of pages you need, a private practice website that does the marketing-heavy-lifting for you is more than just good design and functionality. It’s a combination of strategic design, aligned branding, and direct, client-centered copy.

What I mean by “aligned branding” is: the visual elements of your website need to match and communicate the vibe of your practice and your therapeutic style. Developing an aligned brand takes a lot of intention and exploration, and many website designers don’t offer Brand Development as part of their services. For this, it’s common to hire a Brand Designer or Specialist to handle the branding before hiring a web designer.

The same goes for writing your copy (the words on your website). Copywriting is often a separate service, and many web designers will require completed copy before working with you. A website’s copy can either connect with or repel potential clients, so if you don’t have experience writing web copy, I’d definitely consider hiring a copywriter to help you out.

3. know your budget

Hiring a website designer is an investment in your business, and just like any investment, it’s good to know your budget before asking for help. Knowing that usually, website design, branding, and copywriting are three separate services, it’s important to know what each service usually costs.

Website design services for a one-person small business can range from $2,000 to $6,000 total, and again, usually just include the design & build.

Branding is usually a separate service and includes three aspects: the visual aspects of your brand (colors, fonts, logos, etc.), your messaging (your voice and values), and your positioning (the strategy behind your brand - who you’re trying to reach and how you’re going to reach them). Brand Designers & Strategists’ rates range from $1,000 - $50,000+ and may include one or all three aspects of branding.

Lastly, copywriting services tend to range from $45-$200+ an hour, so with a 5-10 page website (the standard size for private practice websites), budget $135-$600 per page (that’s $675-$3,000 for a 5-page website).

As you can see, having a website designed for your practice can range in investment level. Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to this:

4. know what kind of person/agency you want to work with

Your web designer will be leading you and your website through a transformative process. Spend some time assessing who you want to guide this process.

Trust is the foundation of outsourcing any task. How will you know when you trust someone to bring your vision to life? Are there certain qualities that you’re looking for in a designer? What do you want the process to look like?

Here are some more questions to ask yourself in discovering your ideal designer:

Are you hoping to give metaphorical keys to your designer and say “Go for it!” or are you wanting more of a collaboration? If you have a very specific idea about what you want and you’re not open to collaboration, it might be best to DIY since handing over some creative control is part of the deal.

Is it important that your designer has experience working with your type of business? The therapy world and the design & marketing world tend to exist on different planets. It’s not uncommon for clients to come to me saying that their previous designer couldn’t translate what they wanted for their websites. I started Hold Space Creative for this very reason - because I have experience as a therapist, I can bridge the gap between nuanced mental health and a solid web presence.

How do you like to communicate? Some designers (like myself) communicate with their clients primarily via email. If it’s difficult for you to communicate feedback, thoughts, and ideas in writing, you’ll want to find a designer that communicates via phone.

Do you want someone to manage your site after it’s done, or are you hoping to manage it on your own? Some web designers offer website management in addition to their design/development services, others don’t. Some Virtual Assistants offer website management, as well.

Find some designers you like (Instagram is a good place to start), look at their websites, inquire about their process and rates, and decide if you’ll be a good fit to work together. Trust your gut, and enjoy the ease that comes along with outsourcing a task in your business!


If you’re ready to hire a web designer, I can help.

Together, we can create a website that will connect you with visitors, hold their unique experience, and transform those visitors into clients. We’ll start with brand development, next we’ll strategically plan your website design, and then I’ll take everything we’ve worked on and create a cohesive, beautiful, and functional final product. If you’re ready to start, learn more here.