I admit it. I love design. To me, there’s nothing better than looking at mid-century modern furniture or the architecture of old churches or even watching an entire film about the font Helvetica. So when it comes to websites, I’m probably harsher than most when confronted with a bad design.
However, as I mentioned in a previous post “Elevate Therapy,” design isn’t how something looks, it’s how something works. We’ve written about therapist website design before; you should absolutely read that post if you haven’t already. However, this post is going to be a little more nuts-and-bolts about the hows and whys of your therapist website, including things like costs. The previous post, linked above, is an exceptional resource when it comes to content of your website, this post is going to be more about actually creating the website.
Web Application vs. Website
A web application is a computer program that “does something.” Examples would include iCouch, Gmail or Booking.com. It’s a computer program that “does something,” however instead of being on your computer, it’s delivered over the web.
There is almost always a database system involved that allows the application to store and retrieve some kind of information. Building web applications is very expensive. Web applications require software engineers as well as designers. A quick test to decide if something is a web application is to see if there is a sign in functionality for your users.
Web applications cost from $10,000 (at the very low end) up to and occasionally exceeding $1 million. Building something like the new iCouch would cost you close to $500,000. The point is that for most therapists, building a web application would impractical.
A website is essentially a glorified brochure. It’s much less complex than a web application. There may be a few elements that are interactive (for example, filling out a basic form,) but for the most part, it’s a digital business card. A website is generally what therapists will want. A website can be as cheap as free (excluding your time,) up to $100k or more (Coca Cola is an example of an expensive website that is not a web application.) Generally, a website serves a marketing function.
Therapist Website Costs
Let’s talk money. Websites, despite promises of “cheap” and “easy,” cost money. Here are realistic costs for a typical therapist website:
- Design: free — $5000+
- Hosting: $10 — $20 per month
- SSL Certificate: $80 — $200 per year. (Yes, you absolutely need this!)
- Launching your site: free — $150 (This would often be handled by your website designer, however, be sure they also set up your domain name and SSL certificate)
- Domain name: $10- $20 per year
So the absolute minimum cost for a therapist website, assuming you do all of the work yourself, would be about $210 per year. That’s $17.50 per month. Let’s say you spend 10 hours doing the design and figuring everything out and you value your non-therapy session time at $20 per hour, that’s now about $35 per month or about $420 per year.
That basic “quick” website started to not be so cheap after all right? If you add a designer into the mix to get it done correctly, let’s say you spend $1000 for the designer and once a year you need about $500 for updates:
- First year cost: $1000 (design) + $120 (hosting) + $80 (SSL certificate) + $10 (domain) + $150 (launching/setup) = $1360 or $112 per month.
- Second year cost: $500 (design update) + $120 (hosting) + $80 (SSL certificate) + $10 (domain) = $1360 or $112 per month. $710 or $59 per month.
When you look at the iCouch pricing of $790 per year or $79 per month, the value starts to become very clear, considering you not only get a therapist profile page (i.e. your business card,) but you also get a client portal, online scheduling, payment, online therapy, documents, forms, electronic signatures, HIPAA compliance, a therapist blog, to-do lists and even more. This isn’t a post about iCouch, but I mention it here because when you’re looking around at various services, it’s really important to consider the cost of the alternatives to doing it yourself.
Therapy Sites charges $59 per month, which seems like a value, except when you start to consider the level of quality you’re getting (not to mention the severe security issues!) See our post on ugly and ineffective mental health practitioner websites to get a really deep understanding of the specifics.
WeCounsel is a cheaper alternative at $14.99 per month, but that’s strictly a telehealth solution and doesn’t do much for you in the area of marketing your therapy practice. They don’t particularly care about you getting more clients. They provide a video service and that’s about it.
The problem of most vendors is they are trying to solve one problem. For some, they’re trying to do online therapy. Others are trying to be your marketing website, others are trying to solve your document needs. When you start adding up the costs of all of these different “solutions” you’re quickly spending a lot of money, not to mention wasting a lot of time trying to get all of these various products working together. It can be exhausting!
However, this post is about your therapy practice website, so let’s get back to that.
A great recommendation for your therapy practice website
If I were going to make a single recommendation for the solo or group mental health practice for the quickest and easiest way to get a therapy website up and running, I’d recommend WordPress.com. Not WordPress.org, but WordPress.com. WordPress.org is “free” except you have to deal with everything yourself — including paying for hosting, SSL, etc. With WordPress.com, they handle all of those details for you. You can pick a theme, customize it, add some content and you’ll be up and running rather quickly. Their Premium plan is $99 per year.
If your goal is to have a decent website to advertise your services, WordPress.com is a great, inexpensive choice that requires a lot less pain than other options. Obviously, you don’t get practice management features, but it’s definitely a good choice when you need a basic web presence.