The Coffey Blog

Hospital website design: 5 best practices for effective navigation

Posted on: Monday, January 4, 2016

Jordan Knapp, Client Advocate/Project Manager

People come to your hospital's website with a task in mind. In most cases, they want to get that task done quickly and move on.

One of the most important things you can do to help them is to make sure your website's primary navigation is clearly labeled and organized.

Website navigation best practices for hospitals

Following these best practices can help ensure your website's navigation helps people easily find what they want.

1. Organize information logically. Think of your website from the perspective of healthcare consumers who haven't visited it before and who don't know much about your organization. Make sure your primary navigation is organized so they know exactly where to click to find what they want.

One of the most common organization mistakes we see on hospital websites is listing services on location pages only. This requires people to click through every location page and look for the service they're interested in.

A better approach: Create an easy-to-scan alphabetical list of all your services. Once someone clicks through to the service they're interested in, they should find information about the location(s) that offer(s) the service.

2. Keep text short and specific. Long headers are difficult to scan and can give your primary navigation a cluttered feel. Consumer-friendly navigation text should be direct and descriptive. For example:

  • Instead of: "About Anytown General Hospital." (Someone who's on your site knows your name.) Try: "About us."
  • Instead of: "Doctors." (Is this a page for doctors or a place to go to find a doctor?) Try: "Find a doctor."

3. Consolidate when possible. If you have too many links in your primary navigation, you may overwhelm healthcare consumers and make it difficult for them to know where to click.

To help streamline your navigation, put related information together. For example, group all your services together in one section. If you want to highlight a particularly important service, do so in a home page promotion rather than giving it a separate spot in the navigation.

Pro tip: A good rule of thumb: Try to limit your primary navigation to no more than 8 to 10 links.

4. Make "Contact us" stand out. One of the main reasons people come to your hospital's website is to find contact information like phone numbers and addresses. Place this information in your primary navigation so that it's clearly visible on each page of your website.

5. Make use of the footer. The footer of your site isn't as prominent as the primary navigation, so vital items like contact us shouldn't be listed there. But the footer is valuable real estate for content that needs to be available from every page of the website. This includes things like your site map and legal information such as your privacy policy and terms of use.

Does your hospital website's navigation need help?

Contact us and ask about scheduling a free audit of your hospital's website. We'll look at the navigation, design and content and provide you with an overview of any major issues—and how to solve them.