November 03, 2007

Creation of Our Practice's Website

OR, stated another way, "How much did our physician website cost?" So, there have been a few requests over the years on how our website was created which prompted me to write this particular blog where I will go into the details and costs.

•• Summary of Costs ••
Before I go into details, it is important to make sure the costs of running a website is reasonable. After all, if the costs do not justify the expense, no point having a website. A recent blog describing the current costs of setting up a website can be found here.

In any case, here is an overall summary of how much it costs me (one of the physicians in the practice) to develop and maintain our practice's website excluding costs related to time spent. It does help that I as a physician know how to make websites that helps keep costs down.

Our domain name "" purchased at GoDaddy.
• $9.99 per year
Hosting on a Godaddy server the website:
• $50.88 per year
A 128-bit secure SSL for online prescription requests, website email form, appointment requests, etc purchased at Wufoo. Obviously, this is an optional expense. One could just as easily create a webpage stating to call our office for prescription refills or make a form that a patient would have to print out and than fax.
• $24 a month ($288 per year)

Google Adsense from targeted online advertisement
• About $25 a month ($300 per year)

The wufoo account for online prescriptions, website email, appointments, etc is actually kept as an office expense. The profits I keep to help defray the costs of my expenses maintaining the website.

Keep in mind that our website contains >200 webpages since most web development companies charge for each additional webpage created and maintained.

•• Creating the Website ••
To put it bluntly, one must have some knowledge of how to program in HTML if one wants to have a reasonable appearing website. The creation and maintenance of the website is all performed on my Macintosh MacBook Pro laptop where I have the entire website mirrored on my hard drive. Changes are made on this mirrored website on my computer's hard drive, checked for errors, and than uploaded onto the internet. Given this background, I use the following programs:

Adobe Dreamweaver
My true workhorse program for creating all the different content, images, video, audio, links, etc on the website. Think of it as the Microsoft Word for text documents.

Adobe Photoshop
Powerful graphics program I use to optimize images for web production.

iMovie HD
Free program for owners of Mac computers, I use this program to perform all video editing for web production. This program was heavily used for all the audio-visual effects of the hoarse voice section of our website. The videos themselves were produced on a KayPentax digital system using a chip-on-tip flexible scope.

Adobe Flash
Program used to create the interactive elements of the website. It is used in conjunction with Adobe Dreamweaver. This program is what allows for color changes when a cursor passes over a link or simple animation like a photo slideshow.

Purchase royalty-free clip art to add to your website for a very low price (less than one dollar). Important as you can't just use random artwork in other websites due to copyright infringement concerns.

Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat
These two programs were used to create all forms and documents for patients to download and print at home. Adobe acrobat is the program used to create pdf files which can be opened on any computer whether it be a Windows PC, Mac, Linux, etc.

That's pretty much all that is needed to create and maintain a website!

•• Miscellaneous Website Enhancements ••
So there are various features I have added to the website to make it more useful for visitors such as a google search engine, real-time allergy report, interactive map of our office location, etc. The key thing here is that all these various features are FREE as again, my main motivation is to make the website better without adding cost.

Google Account
This is by far the most important free account to have as Google provides so many free services that many other companies would charge for. Through this account, you can:
• Obtain infinite number of free email accounts with your domain name for everybody in your office (ie, Some knowledge of server protocols is needed, but google does provide a step-by-step instruction.
• Create/Edit your listing under Google's yellow pages.
• Create a Blog (this one!).
YouTube account for videos.
Webmaster services to optimize the website for being found by google's search engine.
Adsense account to insert targeted advertisement within the webpages for which you can get paid
• Get a google search engine for your website.

Google Maps
Add a google map to your website for free pinpointing your office's location. Some programming knowledge is needed.

A google owned website where you can link info within a blog to your website automatically. You can see this in action on our practice's website (the rotating headlines towards the bottom). This services also provides free enhancement utilities to improve your blog.

Free service which will inform you about your website visitors: how many, which webpages, how long were they on each webpage, what webpages a given visitor saw and in what order, at what time, from where in the world, etc. This is EXTREMELY important information that allows you to figure out how to improve your website from a visitor's perspective.

Pollen Report
Free pollen count report can be added to your website for free. Some programming knowledge required.

Free Web-Based Surveys
Surveys are wonderful tools to determine what patients think of your practice. In the case of a website, it allows you to tap into their thoughts should they volunteer to answer questions you pose to them. SurveyMonkey as well as Wufoo both provide free web-based surveys as well as a more sophisticated format that costs money. I think that for most practices, the free version provides everything you would need. The survey we currently have on our website is located here.
This free web-service checks your website weekly for any broken links. That way you can immediately make changes to keep all links functioning because nothing is more aggravating to a website visitor than a website full of broken links.

•• Time Factor ••
People have asked me how much time have I spent creating and maintaining the website. The answer is continuously. Although there may not be any changes needed, I'm constantly thinking of ways to make it better. Questions I keep asking myself are:

• What can I do to make this webpage look better?
• Can I add a piece of relevant artwork without making the webpage too long?
• Why do visitors spend only 5 seconds on this webpage, but 10 minutes on another?
• Are there any new webpages I can add to increase visits to the website?
• Etc

I honestly can't say that our practice's website will ever be completed. Though I don't spend hours and hours every week on it, I do spend a few minutes making minor changes several times a week. Making minor changes on a website takes no longer than making minor changes in a MS Word document, but instead of "saving" the changes, one "uploads" onto the internet any changes.

•• Summary ••
I hope this info is helpful for other medical practices thinking of adding a practice website without the costs from hiring a Web Development Company. I do feel that having a website is imperative in this day and age and I absolutely believe that it has enhanced our practice both in attracting new patients who may have gone elsewhere as well as retaining current ones.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

1 comment:

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