This is the 2nd part of the article that talks about the MUST-HAVES for your clinic’s website. In case you missed the first part, here it is.
Here we discuss the 3 Infrastructure points you must focus on, when getting a website built for your clinic
- Domain & Hosting
A domain is your online address. The Domain is what the visitors will type into their browsers to come to your Clinic’s site. For example, my company’s domain is emrmagazine.com. Just the way you have a physical address for your Clinic, your Domain is your digital address on the internet. Domains cost less than INR 1,000 ($12 USD) a year. Before you buy one, you need to check if it’s not already taken. The most obvious ones would have been taken by others already. Check out domainsbot.com to see if what you want is available.
Now lets review what Hosting is and how is it linked to a Domain. Let us say your Clinic is at 32A GC Avenue. However, this is just a street number. For a Clinic to exist at this address, you need a physical structure, a building to house your clinic and go into. Similarly, the domain will just take you to an internet address. You need a website to exist at that domain address for visitors to come to. The way you have buildings built on land, websites are built on computers (technically called web servers). These computers are leased out by specialist companies to people like you and me to host our websites. Such specialist companies are called Hosting Companies. In order to have a website, you need a Domain and a Hosting Account. You can purchase these two from two different companies and then link the Domain to the Hosting Account. However, you can also avoid all complications and simply stick to 1 company that can provide you with both services. A few of the more popular companies providing all and more of such services are GoDaddy, HostGator and Namecheap. There are thousands of such companies around. Price hardly varies between them. In this regard, I find namecheap.com a cut above the rest, as they provide live chat support. So anytime you face a problem with domain renewal, SSL, hosting, etc, just going to their live chat ensures all problems are sorted out. It’s like having a tech team of experts, for free.
- Adopt a CMS
Content is king, this is the golden rule to success online. It implies that your work does not finish but instead starts after your website is made live. Only if you keep supporting your website with relevant content, would you draw new and existing visitors back to it. Creating content needs effort and creativity. You want to be in control of how and when that content is written and shared. There are two ways to handle this:
- The slow approach – You generate content in Microsoft Word or on emails and send it to your website designer, who then posts the content to the website – one too many hoops for you to jump through, and overall, a sluggish process.
- The quick approach – Get the website designer to build your website using a Content Management System, also called CMS. So, a CMS, is a software tool that lets you write, publish and manage content on the web as easily as you would do using Microsoft Word. The best CMS’s are all free, ex: WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
A CMS also makes it very easy to add additional features to your website e.g., add a blog, add forums for discussions, newsletter signup forms and much more.
Deploying a CMS is only part of the job done. Since there are several hundred thousand websites that use one of the three popular CMSs, they are also an attractive proposition for hackers to look for vulnerabilities to get in. The payoff is huge if they find a vulnerability in a CMS, as they are able to use it to get into not just 1 website, but to get access to scores of other websites that would be running the same version of the CMS. However, each CMS will have an associated security service. Think of it like the anti-virus for your website. For anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 INR ($40-$60 USD) a year, you can buy top-notch protection for your website. Ex: WordFence is a premier security service for websites running on the WordPress CMS. WordFence puts a 360-degree security blanket around your website making it reasonably safe against most forms of malicious attempts to hack it, is regularly updated and retails for only $39 USD per year.
- Secure the Communication
When a user clicks on a link on your website, and a webpage opens up on the user’s computer, data has been fetched from the website to the user’s local computer via the internet. Similarly, when the user fills out a contact us form on your website and submits it, the personal details provided by the user such as the email, mobile, name etc. are sent from the user’s computer via the internet to your website. This to and fro of information, by default, goes out from the user’s computer to the internet in plain text. The correct way of sending any information over the internet is to encrypt it. Encrypting the information ensures, that should the user be sitting in a café, or the airport while interacting with your website, a malicious user who would also be sharing the same network as the user, will not be able to sniff out the information going in and out of the user’s computer. The onus of protecting the users who interact with your website is your responsibility and not theirs.You can make your website by default only accept secure connections i.e., HTTPS. To make it happen you need to tell your website developer to purchase an SSL Certificate for you and make HTTPS as default. Then, even if the user connects in an insecure manner ex: the user types in http://google.com/, he will still get auto directed to the secure version of the site in the background, i.e., https://google.com ensuring no matter where he is currently, his information will always be beyond the reach of a sniffer in between. SSL certificates are quite cheap and can be purchased online from Godaddy.com or Namecheap.com at 600-700 INR ($10 USD) a year. Applying one to your website, will positively improve your ranking with the search engines, and display a green lock sign on the address bar of the browser as shown below.
The example above is from Google Chrome Browser. Other browsers may have a slightly different representation to the one above, and may not show the green colour on the lock icon. But you will always see the lock sign as shown above, in all browsers, if the website in question supports secure communication.
Remember it is not enough to apply SSL and use HTTPS. You need to tell the website developer to make it the default and the only option of communication as well.