OK. It’s time to build your website for your therapy practice. How? Your first few hours of Googling around and asking your colleagues yields a few top contestants for your marketing dollars:
- Brighter Vision
The first tier are all about the same price, though a couple have free options which you’re tempted by, but overall it’s just too much damn information.
As someone with a background of freelance web design, I’m gonna make this really easy and tell you which one of these options you should choose. It will be your best choice unless you
a) have money coming out of your ears and no interest in DIYing this shizz, or
b) have NO TECHNICAL SKILL whatsoever (as in, you still aren’t sure how to find files you downloaded from the Internet on your computer).
If either of these describes you, then go ahead and spend a little extra money on one of the $$ tier, or hire a friend or lower-cost website designer to build you a Squarespace site.
If you are like most therapists new to private practice and have a tighter budget and some basic 21st-century computer skills, then you’ve got one clear option.
The Winner: SQUARESPACE.
It’s the hands down winner in my book. As of this writing, you can get a plan for $144/year. That includes a domain name, security features, a beautiful-out-of-the-box layout, and all the features you need for a basic therapist site. If that sounds like a lot of money to you, trust me, it’s a steal. You simply cannot get a better deal on a super polished, professional therapist site that you could have up and running in a week.
Why Should You Trust Me?
I have twenty years’ experience building and maintaining websites. I was one of the zillion high school kids in the mid-’90s in the Bay Area teaching themselves HTML to the melodic clickings and whirrings of their dialup modems. That translated to freelancing as a website developer in high school, college, and beyond, where I got intimate with WordPress and then, eventually, Squarespace. I now use Squarespace for my own professional websites and enthusiastically recommend it to clients, colleagues, and friends. (And no, I don’t get any money from Squarespace for saying this.)
I’m also a therapist, so I know exactly what you need for a successful website for your practice. And frankly you don’t need many bells and whistles. What you need is something easy to use and update, that will make you look professional, competent, and hirable.
Why Not Use a Free Option?
Basically, your free options are WordPress.com, Weebly, and Wix. All three include their own branding on your website on their free version, which ends up looking tacky and unprofessional.
Plus, WordPress.com’s free version won’t even let you have your own domain name, so your URL is yourname.wordpress.com, which is unacceptably unprofessional.
The whole point of your therapist website is to make you look like a respectable, competent professional who people want to give money to. Don’t compromise on the professionalism of your site. It’s not worth it.
What Makes Squarespace the Best Cheap Website Builder?
Simply put, with Squarespace it’s almost impossible to make your site look bad. The out-of-the-box templates are super polished. This is far from true with Wix, Weebly, and WordPress. You’ll have to work A LOT harder, meaning put in a lot more hours and have a lot more web design sense, to make sure your website doesn’t make you look like an amateur.
You can literally get your site up and running in two hours with Squarespace (not including writing your content, unless you’re a genius at that, in which case let’s talk!). I’m going to venture to say that’s nowhere near the realm of possibility for the other options.
But I Keep Hearing WordPress is Great…
WordPress.org (which is what people generally mean when they say “WordPress”) gets a lot of praise from small business owners for being a free platform that is highly customizable and can support an almost infinite number of features that can also be implemented for free via “plug-ins.” Things like opt-ins, landing pages, sales funnels, membership sites… Not sure what any of those things are? Or how they would be relevant to your therapy practice website? My point exactly.
Yes, WordPress is “free” and offers you a ton of control over your site (including better control over SEO elements than Squarespace), but only in exchange for a ton of headache. You’ll need to pay for separate website hosting (which will likely run you at least $6/month) and deal with all the installation, setup, and maintenance yourself. There’s a LOT of backend work, a lot of opportunity to break things or miss important steps, and a significant learning curve. WordPress is what I’ll upgrade this website to when I need super sophisticated features (which my therapy practice website will likely never need). But for now, even as someone who has lots of experience handling the technical stuff, I’d rather leave the backend to Squarespace and focus on my content. The few dollars a month you’ll save using WordPress will be completely washed out in the hours and hours you’ll spend with setup, maintenance, and just learning how to use the damn thing. And your website will probably STILL not look as good as if you’d just used Squarespace.
So unless you’re a supernerd and want to spend hundreds of hours geeking out over learning WordPress instead of ACTUALLY BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS, don’t do this to yourself. This option will still be here when you decide you’re fancy-pants therapist who needs a fancy-pants website and have the funds to hire a web developer to build and maintain a WordPress site for you.
What about Wix and Weebly?
Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are all offered at similar price points, which frankly I don’t understand at all. Given that you’re paying the same amount, Squarespace stands out to me as by far the builder of the most professional-looking site. It’s a no-brainer. I’ve spent some time with the Weebly interface, which is not significantly better or worse than Squarespace’s, but spend two hours with Weebly and you’ve got a site that looks like it was hacked together by a high school student in 1997. And remember, I KNOW what those sites looked like because I was building them. You don’t want that. As far as I can tell, Wix shares this drawback with Weebly.
What about the $$ options?
Brighter Vision, Therapy Sites, and Empathy Sites are all template-based services that involve humans building your website for you after you supply content and some communication around your design-related wishes. Afterward you’re able to change your website copy as you wish (sometimes by going through their customer service, other times by going in and editing it yourself online). There’s an initial fee of $100-200 to set things up, then $50-80/month for as long as you want the site to stay up.
If you have zero technical skill and zero design skill, or just a lot more money than time, then you’re much better off paying for one of these services and having the guarantee that your site will get set up in a reasonable time frame and end up looking awesome.
Otherwise, in my opinion, that’s a lot of money to pay every month just to prevent your site from getting taken down. And once you want to switch, it’s going to be a whole thing. You’ll have to manually transfer all your content to a new site and hosting provider (or, more likely, pay someone else to transfer it all.) This is also true of Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix, but that idea bothers me less because I will likely end up moving to a more expensive option from there, so I’ll be expecting to pay to upgrade anyway.
If $50-80/month feels like chump change to you, and you don’t care much about relinquishing a lot of control over your site, then by all means go for one of these options.
Does Squarespace Have Any Drawbacks?
As with any WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get,” as in a visual editing interface) website builder, there are going to be some limitations to how much you can customize your Squarespace site. As someone who personally loves a high level of design customization, the fact that I have not yet wanted to hurl my laptop through a window while trying to do something in Squarespace says a lot.
And as I mentioned earlier, Squarespace isn’t set up for easy control over all the elements of your site that will contribute to SEO (search engine optimization). But there are ways around this that aren’t too complicated. I’ll cover that in a future blog post.
The other thing is, as with any DIY site builder, if you don’t have an eye for design, you could still manage to make a mess of things. The real problem I find is that many people don’t realize they don’t have an eye for web design. So if you’re going to go this route, make sure to get the feedback of some friends who can be really honest with you. (And make sure to choose friends who have a reputation for having a strong design sense.) Alternatively, you can pay a bit of money for a website review by a professional (like me!) and get some feedback on what’s working or not.
OK, You Convinced Me.
Jeez, it’s about time. I can’t believe you even read this far down the page. Just go sign up for Squarespace already and start dinking around with your brand new site. They offer a free two-week trial, which is easy to extend once it runs out if you need a little more time to test-drive it. I think you won’t be disappointed.
Ready to get your website off the ground ASAP?
Check out my online course, Zero to Website in 10 Days. It’ll walk you through setup, design, structure, and content: everything you need to be up and running.