Simple steps to help create and manage a basic informational website:
Step 1: Select and register a domain name
A domain name is a web address. An example of a domain name is www.VascularWeb.org. The first step in developing a website is creating several options for a domain name. Many domain names are already in use by other organizations and companies. It is good to have several creative ideas to name a website. Keep the domain name descriptive of the vascular practice, short, and simple.
Check the domain names to see if others have already used them or if they are available for use. Check for availability on free websites such as www.register.com or www.networksolutions.com.
Upon finding an available domain name, proceed with registering the domain on one of the sites (both register.com and networksolutions.com offer domain name registration). Registering the domain means that no one else can use the name selected for the website. The domain name registration will cost approximately US$50 or less annually.
Step 2: Select a web hosting company
After registration of the domain name with a reputable company such as register.com or networksolutions.com, find a web hosting company to provide the virtual space, tools, and support to create web pages and email accounts. Hosting companies have servers to store the website and transmit the information to the internet for access whenever someone types in the domain name.
A good web hosting company will provide the following:
- Top quality customer service (call the customer support team and/or email them before signing up to assess their customer support and response time)
- Email accounts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Email support
- Ability to update a site 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week
- No obligation to stay
- Web site templates (this is a good option for the creation of a first website)
Register.com and networksolutions.com both offer web hosting packages but there are many other companies available. Research web hosting companies online to locate a matching company for specific needs. Website needs vary depending on the amount of space a site requires and the site's dynamics. Web hosting companies offer several package options. Ten megabytes is typically enough space for most new websites.
Important note: Keep the domain name with the domain registrar. Do not transfer the domain name to the web hosting company. This eliminates future problems if it is decided to change the web hosting company.
Step 3: Create a website
With a domain name and hosting company, start creating web pages. There are two options:
- Option 1: Some web hosting companies provide website templates for the creation of web pages. These tools provide beginners with pre-set design options. Follow the steps provided on the hosting company’s site, create the web pages, and launch them on the Internet. A good web hosting company - like register.com - will send details on how to access web site templates. Simply login to the site online and follow the instructions for how to create web pages.
Option 2: Purchase website software to create web pages (software costs approximately US$100-US$300; install it on your computer just like all other software tools, and it becomes personal property). Website software, such as Microsoft Front Page or Macromedia Dreamweaver, offers more flexibility. However, these products also require software knowledge. Website software is like any other software e.g., Microsoft Word or Excel. The user must be comfortable with the features of the software to effectively create web pages.
For a first-time website developer, it may be easier to use website templates offered by the web hosting company. This is a great way to launch a site on the Internet and become more comfortable with how websites work. The purchase of a website software product can be considered for future websites.
What should be included on a website?
Most medical practice websites target patients as the audience. SVS suggests the following pages and content:
- About Us: Provide a brief summary of vascular surgery so that patients understand that the practice features surgery as well as other treatment options. Include information about each doctor and nurse on staff. A brief biography and photo informs patients about practice members.
- Services: For the benefit of patients and referring physicians, include a list of specific conditions treated. Define the conditions. Outline the various treatment options offered. Emphasize the availability of less or non-invasive procedures available as well as long-term care.
- Contact Us: Office contact information is probably the most important element of a website. The information should be accessible from every page. Include your physical office address, mailing address, phone, fax, and email. Also include emergency contact information.
- Office Hours and Appointments: Patients want to know office hours and how to make an appointment. If appointments can be made via email, include an email link to your office. This can be a convenient option for patients.
- Insurance Information: Let patients know what types of insurance are accepted as well as any other relevant details about payment.
- Forms: Include necessary forms on the site. Patients can complete the forms online or download the forms for completion.
- Other Resources: Provide links to resources such as VascularWeb.org for patient information concerning vascular conditions, tests, treatments and the latest patient medical news. SVS members are encouraged to link to VascularWeb.org where patients and referring physicians will find in-depth information about vascular conditions and treatments. Linking to VascularWeb.org expands the information available to visitors while connecting the medical practice with the nationally recognized Society in vascular health and expands efforts to brand the specialty of vascular surgery.
Step 4: Upload the website to the Internet
Copyright © 2009, Society for Vascular Surgery®. All rights reserved. SVS Branding Your Practice Toolkit (June 2007)
Posted June 2010