Why your Web site matters

by Nancy Hall, VP of Client Services, G5 Search Marketing

I love it when this happens:

The other day, we got an email from a client who told us about a new resident. This resident’s daughter wanted to learn about a local senior community, and went online to find its contact information. When she did a search for senior housing in her city, our client’s senior community came up in the search results as well. The daughter (a professional Web developer) was so impressed with our client’s Web site, she decided to come in for a tour of the community. Not surprisingly, the daughter loved the community and is excited to have found a wonderful place for her dad.

The lesson here is simple: Your Web site is important.

When people are searching for a business in their geographic area and they run across a Web site that is uninviting, hard to navigate, and/or lacking basic information, they move on. You may never get another opportunity to engage and sell that client. We have all heard about usability. But what does that really mean for senior housing Web sites?

The design and layout of your site is critical. A bad first impression can easily cause someone to move on without really seeing what you have to offer. The design needs to convey who you are and what you want people to feel about your community. Does it speak to the type of resident you are looking for? Does it match your demographics?

We have one client with communities in small southern towns. Their site conveys a very homey, warm, and welcoming feeling. It looks like the lives of its target residents.

We have another client with locations in Southern California, such as Beverly Hills. Their site exudes sophistication, luxury, and a spa-like feeling, directly speaking to their target audience.

Once a potential resident is captured by your design, the layout of your Web site is what keeps the user engaged. Your Web site must contain relevant information that is organized and easy to find. Levels of care, amenities, services, and other relevant information should be organized in a logical manner. The content must be well written and informative, adding to the overall impression of a successful, inviting community. Your Web site should also include font size options, sample menus, a calendar of events, and photos. Lots of photos. Good quality professional photography that captures the beauty, warmth, and essence of your community is essential to your potential residents and their families.

Finally, your Web site must contain clear directives and calls to action. During the process of designing and developing a Web site, keep in mind your objective: to have potential residents find your community, contact you, and schedule a tour. Never make someone search for your phone number. Many, many Web sites miss this critical step. They are well designed and engaging, but when it’s decision time, the contact information is nowhere to be found. Give your potential residents a variety of options for contacting you, including a phone number and email address, with the invitation to schedule a tour or request a brochure.

So take a fresh look at your Web site. A few small changes can make a difference in its effectiveness and, with the right changes, positively affect your occupancy.

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