September 30, 2021

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Mariah Parker

Starting A Private Practice Website (Step-By-Step!)

However, we know as well as anyone that making a website is easier said than done. We’re here to help. We will walk you through the process of setting up (or improving!) your own website step-by-step, with an example site. Take a deep breath. It will be okay. Let’s get started!

**Disclosure: at MyWellbeing, we only recommend products we would use ourselves. This post contains affiliate links for Squarespace, the website platform MyWellbeing uses. If you sign up for Squarespace through a link on this page, you can use our discount code (PARTNER10) to save money on your site, and we will get a small commission which helps us keep the lights on. Thank you!

Last week, we answered the most common question therapists have about marketing: “Do I need a website?” As a quick recap, if you plan to market your practice online or work with younger clients, you likely need a website.

However, we know as well as anyone that making a website is easier said than done. With site-building options ranging from do-it-yourself website builders to designers who charge thousands of dollars, it can be hard to even know where to begin.

We’re here to help. We will walk you through the process of setting up (or improving!) your own website step-by-step, with an example site. We will be using the website builder Squarespace, which is $16/month, but you can still learn valuable tips and tricks to build your site from this demo, whether or not you use a page builder.

Take a deep breath. It will be okay. Let’s get started!



Step 1: Define Your Therapy Brand

Before you dive into the nitty-gritty of designing your website, it is helpful to put a few building blocks together to save time. The most important component of your site that you should work on in advance is your brand.

Brand can be an intimidating word, but it just means the features that distinguish your practice and presence from other therapists’ presences. It is the color scheme, words, voice, and other elements that you use to describe what you do.



Choosing Your Therapy Brand Experiences

A big part of your brand is the experience(s) that you want people to have when they interact with you. In web design, we think of experiences as the emotions that people feel when they visit your site.

Let’s start looking at our example site here. I want to build a website that shares my (hypothetical) marketing advising services with therapists. I believe that you have the ability to market your practice successfully, so I want you and other therapists to feel empowered when you visit my site. I want you to learn about marketing so you are confident in the best way to share your practice, instead of wondering about whether your marketing is working; I want you to feel informed on my site. Finally, marketing can be very stressful, but marketing strategies and tactics can make it possible for you to support more people; my site should simplify marketing and help therapists feel calm about marketing their practices.

Empowering, informing, simplifying, calming. These are the emotions I want my site to provoke.

What are the main two to four emotions that you want potential clients to feel when they visit your site?

Take a minute to write down a few emotions you want your site to provoke and pick the most important emotions to you. We will work on incorporating them into your site design.



Choose Your Therapy Practice Name

One of the most important parts of defining your brand is choosing the name of your website.

It is fine if the name of your site is your own name, or your name with your license (e.g., www.FirstLastLMFT.com). However, if you might want to turn your practice into a group practice or if you have a common name, it would be helpful to come up with a separate business name.

As a side note, if you are just starting your practice and using your website name as your practice name, be aware that your state may have specific rules about what should be in an official business name, like Inc. or Co.

Before finalizing a name, you should look at search results in Google for the name and check the Trademark database to make sure that no one else is using it. You should also consider filing a trademark for your private practice name to secure your rights to it.

To name my example site, I drew on a previous experience. A therapist once said I was their marketing therapist because I helped reduce their stress around marketing. “The Marketing Therapist” felt like a calming, empowering, and informative name.

However, when I looked the name up on Google, I found that another marketer had already trademarked it. I played around with words that describe what I do in a calming and empowering way, and landed on “Marketing Therapy.” I loved the dual meaning of the name: providing calming and empowering support around marketing, and learning how to market the practice of therapy.

Take a few minutes to list all the names you can think of on a piece of paper. If you’re struggling to come up with a name, speak to your friends, or think through words that evoke the emotions you listed and list those words.

It may take a few days for you to think of a name that really resonates with you; that is okay! The name of your site (and particularly the name of your practice) will be with you for a long time; a great name is worth the wait and the work!



Choose your Color Scheme.

Now for one of the most fun parts of designing a site; choosing the color scheme. If you already have a sense of the colors you want to use for your site, that’s fantastic. Simply check them against the emotions you want to create, make sure they’re the right fit, and move to the next section.

If you’re not quite sure what colors would work best together, I am 100% with you. As someone with no design sense whatsoever, I love Coolors, a tool that helps you figure out which colors might work together for free. We do not make any money for sharing Coolors; I’m just a massive fan.

To start choosing your colors, simply go to the Coolors home page (by clicking on this link) and click “make a palette.” The site will walk you through a quick tutorial but, basically, the site generates a set of five colors that work well together every time you hit the space bar on your computer. You can keep hitting the space bar until you find a full color scheme that works for you, or you can click on the lock icon for individual colors that you like to narrow down a color scheme based on those colors.

For our example site, I tested some different color schemes on Coolors and decided on the following colors:

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To choose my colors, I came back to my experiences: calming, empowering, and simplifying. I was drawn to the calming blue color in this palette, but the warmth of the rosy brown and black bean colors also felt empowering and energizing. This palette was the right combination of the emotions I want our sample site to evoke.

Once you have a color scheme you really like, take a screenshot of it on your computer, or write down the names of the colors and the six digit codes of numbers and letters above each color (for example: Black Bean, 400406). The six digit codes are hex codes, or numbers that tell a computer which color to express. We will use these codes to add the colors to our site.

Congratulations! You have put together some crucial elements of your brand, and that is a big step forward. Once you’re ready, start reading the next section to build out your site.



Step 2: Choose Your Website Builder.

The next step is to choose the website builder that you will use to host your site. There are several options here with different levels of service, support, and customization, but we recommend Squarespace for a few reasons:

  • MyWellbeing itself is partially built on Squarespace, and we’ve had a great experience so far.
  • Squarespace has beautiful, modern templates that help you create a polished website without a background in design or web development. In fact, Squarespace is widely considered to be the site builder with the most beautiful websites.
  • Squarespace handles many of the back-end aspects of site security and optimization for you, so you don’t have to install additional tools and plug-ins or work with a contractor to secure your site.
  • Squarespace has a fantastic support team. They’ve “rescued” our team more than once!

WordPress is another popular option for therapists, but we highly recommend that you work with a WordPress developer to set up your site if you choose WordPress to make sure that you have the right combination of plug-ins to secure your site. WordPress has a significant learning curve when you are new to the platform.

As an important note, the rest of this tutorial will have step-by-step instructions for setting up a Squarespace site. If you are using another page builder, the copy and layout suggestions will still be helpful for you but the instructions on how to use your individual page builder will be different.


Step 3: Set up your Website Builder Account.

Before we can start working on the website design, we need to set up an account with the page builder you chose. Here are the steps to set up a page builder with Squarespace.

First, visit Squarespace’s home page and click “Get Started” in the top right corner.

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You will be taken to a page that asks what your site is about. You can choose the option that resonates best with you here, but if you want to make a simple site, the best choice is “Personal and CV.”

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The next screen will ask you about your goals for your site. You can pick all the options that resonate with you here. We highly recommend choosing “get appointments,” both as a goal that you share with Squarespace for your site and your primary goal for your site.

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Finally, Squarespace asks you where you are in the process of building your site. Choose the answer that best suits your circumstances.

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Click finish, and you’re ready to move onto the next step!



Step 4: Choose your Template.

When you finish starting your Squarespace account, Squarespace will take you to a page of templates to pick the format of your site. These are sample websites that you can add your information to and edit in any way you want.

Look through the sample sites and pick the one that you like best, keeping in mind the emotions that you want potential clients to feel when they come to your site. If you want them to feel calmer or less stressed, a minimal site design would be helpful. If you want them to feel energized, a site that makes more use of color or imagery may be best.

For each site, you can hover over the site image and then click “Preview [Template Name]” and then “view demo site” to see a “live” version of the website that you can click through and test.

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I highly recommend previewing each site that you’re interested in before choosing a final design.

For our sample site, I picked Noll. I liked the simplicity and minimalism of the main page, and thought the template resonated well with my brand experiences of empowering, calming, informative, and simplifying.

When you have found your template, click on the “start with [template name]” link on the image of the template on the main templates page. Then, click the “start with this template” button in the top right.

The next screen will ask you to create your Squarespace account. If you want to use your Gmail account and password to log into Squarespace, click “Continue with Google.” If you want to set up a separate account, click “Continue with Email.”

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Step 5: Designing Your Site

Important Note: Squarespace does not save your changes automatically (as I was tragically reminded while writing the first draft of this blog post). Remember to click “done” and then “save” periodically to make sure you don’t lose your changes as you edit.

Once you create your log-in, Squarespace will walk you through the process of setting up your site information. First up, you will add your title to your site. Simply type in your title to the box Squarespace provides, and click “continue.”

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The Squarespace tutorial will walk you through a few ways that you can edit your site. Once you have completed the tutorial, you should see a window with the template you chose and a menu of different options for your site.

Here is what our template site looks like:

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Before we start editing the main page and working on copy, I like to get some of the housekeeping elements of site design out of the way first. Let’s start by adding a logo to the site.


Adding a Site Title and Logo

To add a logo and site title, click on “Edit” in the top left corner of your template.

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Then, hover over the header section of your website (the very top of the page) and click “edit site header.”

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A menu will pop up that looks like this.

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The top three icons allow you to change how your site shows up based on the device. The compute monitor lets you change how your site looks only on computers; the phone icon changes how your site looks on mobile devices. To keep things simple, we are going to stay in the global section (with the globe icon) to edit how the site looks across all devices at once. However, you should look at your site on mobile phones and see if there is anything you should change just for mobile to make the site easier to use.

Click on the “Site Title and Logo” menu. If you have a logo for your site, you can upload a picture of it here and it will replace the site title any place the site title is used.

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If you don’t have a logo, you can just keep the site title the way it is and Squarespace will add the site title in place of a logo. You can also design a logo yourself using a tool like Canva.

For simplicity’s sake, I am going to use my site title as a logo instead of uploading a logo image.

Click the “back” button in the top left to go back to the header menu.


Adding Header Elements

If your template features links to social media accounts in the header, you can add links to your social media profiles or remove the links entirely under “elements” in the header menu.

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To remove social links, click the slider next to social links. It will turn grey and the social links will disappear.

To add social links, click edit social links, and then add the URLs (addresses) of your social profiles. If you aren’t sure what the URLs of your profiles are, navigate to your profile on each social media site, copy the hyperlink in the address bar, and then paste it into the listing for each social media account in Squarespace.

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You can also add a call-to-action button to your header through the elements menu. A call-to-action is just a feature of your site that encourages a user to take an action you want them to take immediately. For most therapists, you will want potential clients to book an initial call or a session with you, so you can make that the call to action in your header. You can also put the call to action elsewhere on the page.

To add a call-to-action, click the toggle next to the “button” option in the menu so that it turns black. Text for the button will appear below the button menu. For my site’s call-to-action, I changed the text to “talk to me,” and then linked the button to my online calendar URL so that prospective clients can book a call with me.

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Once you are finished working on your header, close out of the header menu and then click “Done” in the upper left corner. A menu will pop up. Click “Save changes” to make sure that your changes are made.

Change Your Fonts and Colors

Next, we’re going to set up the font and color scheme for your whole site. In the main menu, click on “Design.” The design menu is the place where you can make changes across every part of your site.

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Here is what the design menu looks like:

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First up on the menu is fonts. If the fonts on your template site aren’t quite right, click into fonts and choose the fonts that you like best for your site. Be careful not to use too many different fonts; it will make your site take longer to load which makes visitors less likely to stay on the page to wait for it to load. 2 fonts is a great starting point for a simple site.

For our example site, I really like the calming, informative vibe of the template’s font, so I’m going to keep it.

Next on the menu is colors. This is where you can add the unique color scheme you designed to instantly customize your site.

Click on “edit palette” to change your color palette.

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For each color in your palette, click on the color, click “custom color” in the menu, and then click on the text box until a cursor appears.

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Delete the color code in the box and enter your custom, six-digit color codes with a # sign in front of them.

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Play around with putting the different colors you’ve chosen in different places to see how they affect the appearance of your site. Once you’re happy with your colors, click “save” in the upper left corner.

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There are multiple other site design options in the design menu that you can play with to customize the look of your site, but let’s start getting the content in place before we make any more major design changes.

Click “home” at the top left of the design menu. It’s time to add content!


Add and Remove Pages From Your Site

In the main menu, click “pages.”

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This menu is the place where you can add, remove, and edit pages on your site. Let’s take a closer look at it.

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The “Main Navigation” section is the place where you should put any page you want to show in the main navigation bar of your site. This should be for your most important pages like your “about me” section, your blog, and your contact page.

If you would like to build a very simple one-page site, simply delete these pages in your demo and use the main page as your site. To delete a page, put your cursor on the left side of a page and a red trash can will appear. Click on the trash can and then click “confirm” when Squarespace asks you if you’re sure you want to delete the page.

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If you would like to fill in these pages with more detail and even add your own pages, that is also fantastic! To add a page, click the plus button next to “main navigation” or “not linked” and choose the type of page you’d like to add.

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Editing A Page

At last, it’s time for the most important work--editing the pages of your website to tell potential clients more about what you do!

Let’s start with the main page of your site: the “home” page. In the pages menu, click on the page labeled “Home” under the “Not Linked” menu. Then, click “edit” in the upper left corner of the website viewing window.

In “editing” mode, you can click on any part of the web page and change that text, image, button, or other element.

Editing Text

Let’s start with the most important part of your site design--your first sentence. Its location will depend on your template, but most templates will pull out a single sentence at the top of the site to help the reader understand what the site offers them.

Click on the first sentence in your template and edit it to provide a simple, one sentence summary of who you help and why.

For our example site, my one-sentence summary is: “I simplify marketing for therapists and help you reach the clients you most want to support.”

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For the button under my summary of what I do and who I help, the text “book a consultation” feels a little too formal. I want to simplify marketing for therapists and make the experience of marketing less stressful, so I’ll use a more approachable phrase like “talk to me.”

To change button text, click on the button to open the button menu. Change the text to the call-to-action that resonates with how you want your user to feel, and then change the link to take the user to your contact or calendar page to get in touch. For my sample site, I’ll use my Calendly link again so my dream clients can book a call with me.

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Editing Images

The next element on my page is an image, so let’s take a look at changing the images on your page.

It is important that the images on your pages are very high quality, particularly with how high the resolution is on modern computers and screens. Luckily, we live in an era where you can get free, high-quality stock photography that you can use on your site (this was not the case when I started my career in marketing, and I can’t begin to tell you how great this change is).

If you don’t have high-quality images that you can use on your site, you can find them for free on sites like Unsplash. Squarespace actually links directly to Unsplash to help you find images, but I still like to search for images on Unsplash so I can save them for future use. Choose whichever option makes more sense to you.

To use Unsplash without leaving Squarespace, click on the edit icon at the top of an image you would like to replace to pull up the image editor menu:

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Then, click the trash can icon below the image to delete it. In its place, you will see a box with “upload image” in the center and “search for image” below the box.

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To upload your own image, click on “upload image” in the box. To add an image from Unsplash, click on “search for image.” An image search window will appear.

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To find high-quality stock images, I start by thinking about the scene or emotions I want to convey. I have been known to search for phrases like “calming,” “empowering,” or “happy” to find images that set a certain mood. However, for the main page of my site, I want to use a scene that is familiar for my target audience--something that evokes the therapy room. You can combine the emotions you want people to feel with specific scenes you want in searches, like “happy couch.”

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And it worked! I like the image in the top left and added it to my site.

Oftentimes, you’ll want to look deeper than the first image that appears because a lot of people use the first images that appear in search, so digging deeper can help you find images that are used less often. However, if an image at the beginning of your search really calls to you, use it!

It may seem simple, but you can use your text editing and image editing skills to fill in most of your template.


Adding/Removing Sections of the Page

While your template is a great starting point for the types of information that you can put on your site, some of the sections may not fit your needs, and you may want to add sections other than the ones that are already in your template. Squarespace makes this process easy.

To add a section, scroll down the page to the place where you want to insert the new section and move your cursor down the page until you see a blue line with a plus symbol separating the sections.

Click on the plus sign, and a window will pop up with new sections you can add.

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There are so many options here, from photo galleries to appointment booking systems to videos to newsletter sign-ups. It is worth taking a look at all the possible sections you can add before you launch your site to see how they inspire your content and format.

To choose a new section, simply click on it and it will be inserted into your page in the place you chose for it.

To remove a section, click on that section to select it. A set of icons will appear in the top right corner of the section.

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Click on the red trash can icon to delete the section, and click “remove” when Squarespace asks you to confirm that you would like to remove it.

Once you are happy with your home page, click “Done” in the top left corner and then click “save.”

Repeat the editing process for all of the pages that you would like to have on your site, or delete the other pages for now and use your home page as a one-page site.


What Should I Say On My Website

We can get so caught up in the small details of site design that, when we finally get to the actual places where we need to add words to the page, we come up blank. I have definitely been there.

We put together an introductory training on web design and copy that covers how to figure out what to write on your site: you can find it here.


Step 6: Finishing Up Your Site

When you are happy with the look of your site, it is time to publish (and celebrate that you’re almost finished!). When you close out of the editing window, there will be a bar at the bottom of the screen with a blue “subscribe” button.

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Click the “Subscribe” button. You will land on a page to choose your plan. The cheapest plan, “personal,” should be all that you need for your site right now, unless you want to have an email address connected to your domain (e.g., an email that ends in @yourdomain.com instead of @gmail.com).

Once you choose your plan, Squarespace will walk you through the rest of the sign-up process. Don’t forget to use the code PARTNER10 to get 10% off your membership!

Ongoing Support

We went through a lot of different aspects of website building in this post, but there is still more that you can learn to fully customize your site. Luckily, Squarespace has an amazing support team (you can reach them here!) and quick video tutorials on different aspects of site design that can help you try new design features.

Congratulations! You have set up a key part of your online and offline marketing toolkit: your website. You are on your way to being found online and bringing in new clients who are the right fit for your practice!


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