Your new counseling website is up and you are very excited. The first thing you do is send it to the people you know for feedback. While it is fine to do this, you have to proceed very carefully with the feedback you receive. Here are some of the comments you might get that won't necessarily be helpful to you--and may even hurt the results you get.
"Your website is awesome!"
Completely biased by their love and caring for you, this is an example of feedback you might get from friends or family. The problem is, there is nothing in this feedback that will tell you how your potential therapy or healing clients are going to react to your website.
Those giving you feedback are not likely your target audience, they are not seeking therapy at the time, and therefore, they are not looking at the website subjectively, as a potential client would. Their opinion is biased by how they feel about you and perhaps what they like.
Research shows that your clients know what they want and need and will respond to your website based on their emotions. They want to feel understood and be confident that you can help them. There are very specific things they need to hear before they are going to contact you.
The kind of feedback friends and family give you might make you feel good and loved, but this is likely not going to help you attract more clients.
Here's another example:
"Your website sounds depressing."
While you don't want to have a website that sounds all negative and depressing (you also want to talk about how therapy can help your potential clients), you need to discuss your clients' problems and their feelings about them.
Can you imagine saying to a therapy client in your office, "We don't talk about problems here. We only talk about what is good in your life and how you can make it better."
How ridiculous is that?
Let's face it, many clients are depressed or at least in some kind of turmoil when they look at your website or they wouldn't be there! Trying to make your website sound too happy and nice, negates their reality.
Here is another example of the kind of feedback you may receive:
"I don't like those colors."
Just because one person doesn't like something about your website, does that mean that others will dislike it as well?
Of course not.
As you know, people's opinions about anything are extremely diverse. Show your website to 5 or 10 people and you can get vastly conflicting opinions. Again, the people who know you are not making educated opinions, they are simply expressing their preference, or what they think is best. If you automatically listen to what they tell you, you could be making a mistake. You might want to check out some color trends and do some research on color psychology before you decide on want colors might work best on your website.
What about getting feedback from colleagues in your field?
Here is an example:
"Your website looks and sounds very professional."
You think to yourself, "My colleague is a professional like me, she works with clients like me, she should know what an effective counseling website should look like, shouldn't she?
And, most probably not.
While you certainly do want your website to look professional, you want much more than that--namely, a website that works! A "professional" looking and sounding website is not necessarily going to be effective. It's a start, but as mentioned above, it also needs to be compelling and resonate on a subjective level with potential clients.
Every aspect of effective websites (design, layout, colors, etc.) has been--and continues to be--studied extensively. Unless your colleagues are familiar with this research, their feedback should be viewed with caution.
In fact, asking your therapist colleagues to provide feedback on your website can be like the blind leading the blind.
While professionals in your field may understand your clients' problems and how to help solve them, many therapists tend to assume that websites should look like other therapist websites they have seen. The problem with this is that many therapist websites are not working very well for them--even if they do look "professional" (and the sad truth is, many don't). So what is happening is that a lot of therapists are making assumptions that what they have seen is the "best" or the "right" way to do it, and they are often wrong.
The bottom line:
If you are going to ask the people you know for feedback, listen carefully as there may be some useful opinions, but be mindful that a lot of it may not be helpful at all, and may even hurt your results if you implement it.
So, who else should you be asking for website feedback from?
Web and marketing professionals - those "in the know".
I am one of those professionals. I've been studying websites for over 15 years. I want to help you ensure your website is performing at it's best. If you want a critique of your website, you can book a consultation with me.
You can also check when my next Client-Attracting Websites Program begins.