What to Look For When Hiring A Web Developer For Your Wellness Website

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15 min read

You’ve outgrown your old website.

You need a beautiful, functional, and solid website that does what you need it to do. But you are totally overwhelmed by websites and technology, and even the thought of asking for help seems overwhelming.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you are feeling a bit of DREAD when it comes to creating, updating, or overhauling your wellness website.

Or you may be a tech whiz!  Either way, often there is a big gap between how real or perceived “tech-savvy” and “non-tech savvy” people communicate. Not to mention that the way health and wellness professionals are showing up online.. AND how they deliver their services.. has been changing at warp-speed over the last few years.  It’s easier than ever to enter the game, but the bar has been raised.

This means that web developers need to do a LOT more than they did even 5 years ago in order to serve the wellness market.

What should an acupuncturist, chiropractor, naturopath, coach, or other wellness entrepreneur look for when hiring or seeking help from a website expert? (even if they decide to go the DIY route)

First, some quick background: As of this writing, I am focusing on creating websites that are based on solid marketing principles and the “Story Brand” framework. I believe that it’s no longer enough to rely on just good coding OR just good design and branding.

Today, I believe a good “website person” needs to be knowledgeable about everything from how to tweak CSS code to how to work with wellness professionals who are showing up more and more online… and who are even creating more of their offerings ONLINE.

Your website has to serve you and should be designed to do most of the “heavy lifting” for you.

As someone with both a “left brained, logical ” side AND a “right brained creative” side, I’m going to give you a little “insider’s glimpse” of the LEFT side of the gap. (More about the RIGHT side in my next blog)

How to communicate effectively with web developers and “tech” people when you are a creative type (and find a web developer who understands how important the “right brain” creative stuff IS!) 

In this blog, I hope you get some great insight about tech in general, how to communicate with tech professionals, and 3 things to look for when working with them.

Inside the mindset of a “Left Brained” Web Developer 

Let’s talk about web developers. Most are good at what they do, but there are also many who are terrible at communication. There  is often no onboarding, planning,  guidance, or process. clients are left completely on their own when it comes to envisioning and creating their website.

Although they are not off the hook for creating a poor customer experience, they are not TRYING to be difficult.

Being left-brained doesn’t always mean one is a rigid, socially-inept geek whose job it is to hinder the creative flow of creative types, drive them crazy, or arbitrarily put up roadblocks to creating a dream website.

To be fair, right-brained creative types can drive people crazy, too, by taking up a LOT of people’s time. I’ve been guilty of doing this myself.

Without some kind of structure, a developer could spend HOURS reacting to everyone’s whims, while still being confined to the restraints of the systems one is working with. This can create a LOT of stress. This still isn’t the client’s fault. It’s ours, or at least the people who are making the promises.

If you are a DIY’er who has some experience with “tech” you probably have been in at least one situation that made you want to smash your computer while screaming in frustration.  Or days when it took you MUCH longer than you though it would take to solve what seems like such a SMALL issue: “Why is does my text look like this on my phone?? Why isn’t this working??? Grrr)

It’s the nature of the beast. Even among those with experience in “tech,” one has to allow for the unexpected.. and factor it into overall costs.

Factor in the difficulty that web developers often face with getting the input they need from other humans on the team, and it can get to the point where I can see where the “typical nerd” mindset might come from.

I’ve worked as a prepress technician in the past. I learned that working with things like code, technology, and large projects with parts contingent upon OTHER pieces and functions  being properly built and executed… HAS to be exact and precise.

Otherwise  it simply won’t work.

As in, it won’t work AT ALL.

I’m going to let you in on our world, not to defend any kind of poor people skills, but to help YOU navigate it. whether you are hiring someone as a “non-techie” type or going the DIY route.

If a web developer doesn’t get the content he needs from a client,  or can’t create that dream opt in form because the client’s current email service won’t integrate well with a plugin or website platform.. his hands may be tied. The same is true for branding and integrating a marketing strategy.. it’s a team effort, with multiple “moving parts” to put into motion.

Most of us are compelled to make something work.  It’s kind of in our nature. This happens, and we’ll do our best to “make it so,” but we must also know that we have a business to run and there needs to be boundaries, just as in any coaching or holistic practice.  Sometimes we’ve had to learn the hard way about “scope creep.” 

It’s the nature of working with technology. Or with BOTH people and technology at the same time.

This is why websites can get expensive,  why many DIYer’s get frustrated, and why the bigger the project gets, and the more people involved, the more complex, time-consuming,  and costly a project can get.

But I don’t think it HAS to be this way anymore, (nor SHOULD be) especially for wellness entrepreneurs.

The solution: To me, taking as much of the risk out as possible for both the client and the developer via:

• A flat fee and clearly spelled out tasks and objectives that are mutually agreed upon.

• Working with systems and platforms that have a good track record for flexibility, functionality, and reliability (WordPress, DIVI, ActiveCampaign, etc) Adding services on later is not a problem!

We also don’t like to have to GUESS.  Many developers also don’t want to have to guess what a client wants. Neither do I. It’s frustrating and a waste of time and money for everyone.

Again, often it is the developer’s fault for not providing any kind of guidance or communication that can eliminate this problem, on the FRONT end of the project. This is mostly our responsibility.

So let’s talk about what makes it a pleasure to work with someone in getting a website built.

3 things to look for when hiring a developer or designer for your website

1. Knowledge of the following:

• The technical aspects of building a website

• A solid sense of design and aesthetics

• Branding

• Marketing specific to your industry. I dive deeper into these skills in this blog.

• If you are really lucky: Someone who is well-versed in verbal communication specific to websites. This includes:

1. Effective copywriting designed to inspire and motivate people to buy. (Particularly important for landing or sales pages)

2.  The “narrative flow” of a page or the entire  site. This flow takes us on a mini journey similar to the “Hero’s Journey” from the very top “Hero/Header” image with a headline that tells people exactly what you do.. to the “Hero has a problem and is called to action” to the climactic scene, to the “Happy Ending.”

You can find out more by reading the book “Building a Story Brand” or “Marketing Made Simple” by Donald Miller.

3. How to write effective blogs that will help your site get found in searches (This works for podcast and video transcripts as well)

2. A THOROUGH intake and COMPLETE planning process.

If there is no intake process or even questions asked, walk away.  Just as I wouldn’t even consider working with a patient when I was practicing acupuncture without a thorough intake, I won’t do this with a new website or marketing client.

A website is far more than just a fancy electronic brochure and some generic pictures and a few blogs to make it “look legit.”  Your branding, which is how your business is presented to the world, is “baked in” to the website.

It’s also far more than a collection of clean and elegant code.  This is also a vital component of any website, obviously, but great code is just a start.

For a small service-based business, it’s possible to build a site with only a bit of HTML and CSS knowledge. In other words, you don’t need to be a black belt coder.

The FUNCTION of the site is very important, and sometimes not well-thought out. It’s a team effort. This means that it is essential to determine the PURPOSE of the site, which is also done in the intake process.

If the intake only consists of you saying: I want my website to be the same shades of pink as my favorite coaching site and yeah, I guess I will need a blog, and the developer says “Ok, ” there is going to be a problem. They need to be asking waaay more questions. It’s not YOUR job to know the right questions to ask.. it’s THEIR JOB!

An EXCELLENT web developer/designer will also provide some coaching. They will understand the basic principles of marketing, including how to help you translate your message, positioning, and problems and desires of your ideal patient or client into the content/narrative of your website.

The StoryBranding framework is one of the best ways to accomplish this.

3. Good communication skills

Of course, if you encounter a web developer who has poor communication skills or doesn’t understand your wants or needs.. I recommend moving on. As a bit of a nerd with a strong left-brained side, I know we can be NOTORIOUS when it comes to speaking in jargon. We often forget that not everyone speaks our language.

Many developers and designers are also very, very good at what they do and have a great portfolio, but are not great when it comes to interacting with people.

In order to create a big project like a website, it’s essential to be able to communicate with real people.

• Look for testimonials or get referrals to find out if the developer is easy to work with. It’s also a good sign when the person or agency that is creating your website goes “beyond the portfolio” and presents some case studies that show the exact strategies, tactics, and results that were achieved.

• Look for developers who are able to provide insight and education during the process. I’m not suggesting that they spend extra time sitting down to teach you about digital marketing, but there should be resources like blogs, onboarding guides, training videos, and everyday encounters that make it easy to learn and NOT EVER  feel stupid for asking.

That’s why I like to have tools like the glossary of digital marketing terms you will find on this website, but as of this update.. I’ve got a LOT more resources I’ve been creating just for my clients.

• Look for developers and designers who can speak in plain English. Clients should be able to say “I like the big picture on the front page of my site, it’s striking. Can we change the color of the bar up top?” without feeling silly.

In fact, one of the things I like to do is have a client show me visually what they like.. and what they don’t like.

It’s also great when you can learn the lingo along the way so that you can say: “I love the HERO image, but can we change the font on the heading? The subtitle looks great. I like the navigation bar, but would it be a CSS nightmare to change the color and adjust the padding on the bottom, maybe 10 pixels or so? *wink* Actually, no. Just speak to us in English, and leave the pixel tweaking and nitpicking to us.

Bottom line: I want my clients to be.. to use an overused word.. Empowered clients. I love it when a client has a shift in their relationship with “tech” so that it no longer feels quite so much like a necessary evil.

Make sure that your designer/developer at LEAST understands how important design, branding, and verbal communication is, and is on top of what is working today when it comes to visual and verbal communication.

I believe that having a WordPress website built with the Divi theme/builder allows you to “have your cake and it too” as far as having a high-performing, beautiful and functional website that you can manage on your own without having to learn coding.

I also believe that a website based on a narrative or story, with enough “calls to action” is the key to making your website your best employee.. converting visitors into leads, and leads into paying clients and patients.

I hope this blog helped you navigate the “left side” of the gap. I’ll be talking about the “right side” in my next blog in this series! Meantime.. if you need some extra help and guidance from someone who knows BOTH sides of the gap and you need a bridge.. I’m here. 

Need help with your website?

Building a pretty or even “stunning” website is getting easier.

Creating a website that actually gives you the results you are looking for (getting new patients and clients on autopilot) is another matter entirely, and is often overlooked by health and wellness professionals and coaches.

The truth is, most wellness professionals really don’t need a custom-coded website, but many are also wasting their money on “stunning” (pretty) but low-functioning websites, just because it’s the “cheap and easy” route.

I help my clients create websites based on the StoryBrand framework and built usng the DIVI theme .

Each website I build is not only an essential marketing tool, but also customizable  unique to the wellness industry and to YOUR business.

You don’t need to contact a developer in order to edit or make changes to your website, because you will OWN it.

Because I’ve been a wellness professional running a practice on MY terms, I know the industry well and how marketing.. and even delivering our services, is changing VERY rapidly.

Get the ROI you deserve from  your website.

Sound good? It all starts with a simple application. No discovery calls, no pitch. 

Hi! I’m Julie. 

I’m a self-described nerd when it comes to branding, marketing, and websites. I’m an INTJ/P who loves working with “thinking” introvert entrepreneurs who are also passionate about their ideas and serious about their business.  Feel free to explore a topic or search for something specific. 

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