There is a variety of ways to build and support a website. Not all of them however will offer guaranteed peace of mind that the site will offer stability, reliability and a positive user experience. When a website doesn't function properly, the potential for reputation damage increases. Here we take a look at the key technologies behind web design and hosting; what you should be seeking out in order to maintain both reputation and relationships, and how Tree View Designs works to deliver the best possible online reassurance and experience for its GP practice clients and their patients.
The internet has become such a fundamental part of everyone's lives, to the point where no one is able any more to even think about what they would do without it.
It only takes a minor lack of connectivity these days to throw us into a panic, and we are all too quick to lay the blame at the foot of whichever website or digital provider it is that has left us unable to communicate or do business.
Website users expect to receive full service at all times. Whether they are shopping, banking, learning, working, reading the news or viewing an amusing video, there is a demand for a wholly uninterrupted experience. This is no different for a patient of a GP practice who is trying to register, book an appointment, order a repeat prescription or locate some information.
Bad website experience = frustration + more
Imagine if a patient encounters an issue when trying to view a page of their GP practice website. Or they take time to complete a form only to find on submitting it, there is an error meaning they have to start over. What if they click on to the website to discover it isn't working at all? None of this will help to foster positive patient-practice relationships.
A website that doesn't work properly is like a shop that is shut. You travel there expecting it to be open, but the lights are off and the doors are closed. You have wasted your time making the visit and you feel frustrated. You may even make the decision never to go back, or you may share your experience, perhaps even online so that others are made aware of what you've been through.
The fact is, if your website has not been built around a robust platform from the ground up, there is always going to be a greater chance that it will fall down at some point, and this means there is worrying potential for reputation and patient relationship damage.
How to ensure your website is built on the very best platform possible
There is a fair amount of choice for website designers when it comes to selecting the platforms they use for developing and hosting a site. It is these choices that mark the difference between a website that is stable, and one that is unpredictable or unsteady.
Scripting language may sound like a technical term, but in essence it is simply a way of programing a website so that it automatically interprets and executes commands. There are various types of scripting languages: PHP is one of them. In very basic terms, PHP works on a web server and is responsible for responding to a website user's request. So for example, when a user requests to see a certain page on the website, PHP will be responsible for dealing with that request and returning the page to the user's screen.
Not all scripting languages are made equal: some are more reliable and safeguarded against bugs and security issues than others. At Tree View Designs, we use PHP because it is fast; it is widely supported and importantly, it is stable.
Within PHP itself there is more than one version. We use the very latest and cutting edge version: PHP 7.1. Only released in December 2016, it will be supported in terms of bug fixes until 2018 and for security issues until 2019, so offering added reassurance and peace of mind for those website operators whose sites are built around this language.
New versions of PHP tend to be released every 12 months or so, and as soon as they are, so Tree View Designs switches to the latest release.
Web Server Software
Web server software serves web pages, documents, images and other types of web based resources in response to requests via the web browser. Again, not all web server software is made equal, with speed of delivery being one of the key considerations.
At Tree View Designs we use the latest, best performing version of web server software known as Nginx. Nginx is well known for its high performance, stability and, importantly, for making websites faster, which offers dual benefits. Firstly for the website user, they will find access to web resources such as pages, images and documents much more immediate. Secondly, for the website operator, a faster website presents the benefit of being more likely to be ranked higher by Google, with speed being one of the search engine's key ranking criteria.
Many of the world's best known websites – YouTube, Instagram and Yahoo for example – use Nginx to manage their web traffic because they all want to achieve maximum website speed.
A database server turns raw data into digestible information, in other words, it takes information out of storage and delivers it to the website user in a format that can be understood.
Speed, versatility and reliability are all elements that must be considered by a website developer when choosing a database server. At Tree View Designs we use a database server called MariaDB. It is one of the most popular database servers in the world and used by the likes of Google and Wikipedia.
Our preference is for MariaDB because it is swift in delivering requested information to the user. It is also very robust and reliable and provides a range of useful features that add value to the website and those who use and run it. We use the very latest version to ensure ongoing support and the most up to date range of features.
In engaging Tree View Designs to develop and manage your GP practice website, you are buying into a host of benefits. With the latest, cutting-edge technologies used to support your practice website, you can be sure of the best possible experience both for your practice team, and for your patients.