30,000 hits and rising
Running your own website can
raise your practice profile,
writes Dr Mike Langran
Websites are like the human body: what comes out at one end is completely dependent on what is put in at the other. I have maintained a medical website on snow sports injuries and their prevention for the last six years.
I started out with a web address longer than the average Oscar's acceptance speech and a computer whose spec would send today's IT expert into fits of laughter. From two pages of information the site steadily grew to nearly 60. Last season the site averaged 30,000 hits a month. In the early days I used a free web-based service that offered pre-prepared page templates into which I substituted my own text and pictures.
High hits and enthusiastic inquiries
Receiving page hits and e-mails is one of the most satisfying aspects of maintaining a website. Through the years, I have developed new contacts and friendships all over the world.
I am careful not to get drawn into offering second opinions on an injury I have not examined. What I can offer is generic advice and information and (especially) guidance on preventing injuries occurring in the future.
To maintain my site's credibility I only use information from well-conducted research or ski safety colleagues whose opinions I know and trust.
Many (like myself) are members of the International Society for Skiing Safety. I tend to set aside one evening a week to review and update the site with new information. Once a month, I repeat an extensive online literature search to scan for new information in the evidence base. A tolerant spouse is an essential component of any webmaster's life.
Raising the practice profile
Apart from the personal benefits, maintaining the site ensures I am up to date with all the latest research developments in my field. Many colleagues now recognise the uniqueness of the site and are keen to share information with the general public through it.
Our practice profile has undoubtedly increased and we continue to receive inquiries from students and doctors interested in working with us.
Practicalities of setting up your website
I would encourage anyone to set up a site, be it purely practice based or related to a personal interest. Three essentials are a domain name, a web host (through whose space the site is displayed) and a means of getting the material on to this space. If you want to encourage visitors, try for a simple domain name that relates well to the site's content. Several companies offer beginner packages. Some are completely free, but have limited facilities.
Nevertheless, they are a good starting point to see if web building is for you. I use MS Hosting (Home) from oneandone for £5.99 a month. My .com name costs me £8.99 a year and I use Microsoft FrontPage 2002 (£150 from PC World).Whatever you decide to use, make sure you keep a back-up of your pages somewhere (I learnt the hard way when I lost everything and had to start again from scratch). You should also submit them to the search engines for free using an engine such as Launch. Good luck and see you in cyberspace.