A Comparison of Brighter Vision, TherapySites and My Digital Maven
I used to recommend Brighter Vision to therapists. A lot! People would ask me who designed my first business website because they wanted to hire that person and were disappointed once I told them I did it all myself with SquareSpace.
Years ago there were fewer options for therapists looking for a web designer that specialized in mental health private practice. There was TherapySites and then a few individual web designers who were amazing, like Kat Love and Nicole Bonsol. Unfortunately, Kat and Nicole were soooo amazing that their schedules quickly filled and they were booked months out, and neither are currently taking on clients at all.
There are a few more people (like myself) now popping up in this space, but most of them focus on creating WordPress websites that you’ll need someone else to manage for you. Very few web designers offer all-in-one services that include creating the website, making it pretty, optimizing it for SEO, and writing the copy that will grab your client’s attention.
So that leaves us with:
Individual web designers who don’t specialize in mental health practices
DIY’ing your website
Paying a website subscription service like TherapySites or Brighter Vision
For sake of time and so we can really dig in to what Brighter Vision and TherapySites offer, I’ll review DIY options and individual web design services in another post.
Website Subscription Services
These are services that offer a monthly rate to get your website up and running so you don’t have to pay a large, up front fee. They typically capitalize on serving a large audience and using templates so they can offer affordable services.
First, let’s do a review of the “OG” therapist website service we’ve all heard about for years: TherapySites.
My number one complaint about TherapySites has always been their cookie-cutter designs that are about 15 years outdated. I could spot a TherapySites website from a mile away even before I knew anything about designing websites. You probably can, too.
To be fair, TherapySites started out when websites were a pretty new thing, and when they were definitely a revolutionary concept for mental health professionals. So the people who signed up almost a decade ago were well ahead of their time.
But things have changed (and improved) pretty dramatically over the last few years and there are very limited therapist website design options with TherapySites. Even after updating their website template options, most TherapySites examples look boring and outdated.
And for some reason, it seems most therapists choose the same template, anyway! Despite having a few options, most TherapySites websites that therapists create on their own end up looking almost identical. Does a left side menu with a sand-colored background and blue border sound familiar?
Here’s my ode to the most generic therapist website design of all, prevalent on many TherapySites websites, Stacked Rocks:
Here’s my therapist website design PSA: Just say “NO” to stacked rocks!
And when will we finally ditch the generic stock photos? Apparently, all therapists have clipboards in their hands when counseling. But I digress...
Having an outdated website is no different than having orange shag carpeting and a brown tweed couch in your office. It makes you appear out of touch and, more importantly, it actually detracts from what you want your clients to think and feel so they can make a connection with you.
Outdated website design isn’t the only thing that’s concerning about TherapySites.
They promote offering “built-in” SEO but that means they are likely not optimizing your website for the things that matter most- your geographic region and your services niches. Sure, they’ll create a standard menu of pages and there are some common search terms that apply to therapy websites, but you always want to build your site around specific and carefully identified SEO keywords. You’re not getting that with a TherapySites website.
And although they tout their pre-created therapist website content as a bonus, it is actually a huge problem for websites.
I’ll dig into this more below in the Brighter Vision review, but you need a website that is personalized, unique, and sounds like you for two main reasons:
To connect with potential clients, so they get a sense of who you are.
To establish and maintain good SEO.
In my opinion, these are two things that are simply non-negotiable because without them, there is hardly any point to paying for a website at all.
A few other things you should know before investing in a TherapySites website:
You don’t actually own your website or your domain; you’re renting it from TherapySites. You do own anything you wrote yourself, pictures you purchased on your own, etc. However, you’ll need to copy and paste all of that somewhere first if you ever decide to leave TherapySites.
Pros of TherapySites are that you can easily sign up and get started all on your own, any time you want. Since the website is heavily templated, all you have to do is add a few pieces of information and tweak some of the wording and voila, your website is live.
Will anyone ever find that website in a Google search, though? That part will be the real challenge.
Now, let’s review Brighter Vision, the “fresh on the scene” website design service.
As I mentioned earlier, I used to recommend Brighter Vision quite frequently. Most people were happy with their websites and happy to be hands-off in the website creation process. However, I started to notice some concerning trends in 2018.
Very randomly, a few different therapists had asked me to check out their websites, all within the span of a week… okay, maybe it wasn’t so random since I’m obsessed with online marketing and love checking out websites.
Anyway, I noticed these people’s websites weren’t ranking in Google at all. They had said their websites weren’t getting them clients and my own search confirmed they had poor, almost non-existent, SEO.
The websites all had multiple design and user issues:
Their websites were difficult to use because web pages were incomplete or totally empty.
The pages weren’t organized so it was unclear how to go where you wanted to go or where the information you’re looking for is on the site.
The design was really just “meh.” Not quite stacked rocks level but getting close (and definitely using some of those generic professional photos).
Then I noticed something really disturbing. Many of these therapist websites had the exact same content. On multiple pages. This is a big no-no in the land of SEO and making Google like your website!
It was seriously like a horror movie moment when I realized these websites all had the same content and the same usability problems.
That’s actually how I noticed that all these websites also had something else in common: They were websites designed by Brighter Vision.
Similar to TherapySites, Brighter Vision proudly promotes their “Pre-Written Therapist Content” that is included in even their lowest price option. They also promote their social media and blog content library, which are part of the higher priced option.
They are offering you and hundreds of other therapists the exact same content to copy and paste all over the web.
Honestly, it’s unlikely that you’ll choose the exact same Facebook post as another therapist in your area and post it on the same day. It’s just as unlikely that a potential client follows you AND another local therapist using Brighter Vision, or that the potential client would notice if you both post the same content more than a few days apart.
However, Google basically sees and reviews everything you do on your website. And Google wants to offer an exceptional service to people who are searching online. That means Google doesn’t like seeing duplicate content that is copied and pasted over and again.
Google also doesn’t like to direct searchers to a bad user experience. So if your website is unorganized, links don’t work, or pages are blank, you take another major hit.
These trends negatively impacting therapist websites continued to be so pervasive that I stopped referring to Brighter Vision altogether.
Keep in mind that these are all things that are basic to the concept of SEO. So while there are hundreds of things impacting your SEO, these items at the base level (along with a few other things like having your contact information on every single page of your website) are most important.
However, you won’t know anything about your website’s performance unless you pay for Brighter Vision’s top tier plan, which is the only one that includes Google Analytics. PSA: Google Analytics is a FREE service for anyone with a website. Yes, that’s right, Google doesn’t charge anyone to set up an account or use it for unlimited websites.
Although I understand Brighter Vision wants to charge for the time it takes to integrate Google Analytics (less than 10 minutes), it makes no sense that this critical information is only available by paying $50 more each month.
There is no point in creating a website if you can’t measure how it is performing.
You need that data to determine whether or not your investment is bringing you a return, and also to know how to adjust your marketing strategy over time.
This brings me to another problem with Brighter Vision. They encourage therapists to create a multitude of web pages, regardless of whether or not these pages have any content that is helpful… in fact, regardless of whether or not there is any content on the pages at all! This creates a confusing and disjointed website that appears incomplete.
There is some underlying SEO strategy here, because more content online means more content for Google to find you. However, as I outlined above, the most important thing is that the content on your web pages is high quality and cohesive. Having multiple pages that say exactly the same thing, break up information into too many pages, or have almost no information at all, is more detrimental to your website performance than helpful.
Perhaps what’s most concerning about all of the above is that it seems to apply to MOST Brighter Vision websites.
Take a tour of their portfolio and see for yourself. You will find websites that have the same pages, confusing menus, similar content, and almost every one of them have at least one page without any content at all (but there’s a nice “Content to come…” message on the page).
The bottom line with comparing TherapySites and Brighter Vision…
It only takes a quick Google search of the phrase “brighter vision vs therapysites” to discover that Brighter Vision is obviously doing better at SEO than TherapySites. Brighter Vision is ranking for multiple pages, while TherapySites shows up once at the very bottom of the page. Unfortunately, Brighter Vision doesn’t seem to be passing this SEO know-how on to their customers.
Both companies have a large share of the therapist website design market and are trying to offer affordable solutions, but the shortcuts they’re taking to make services affordable are negatively impacting their customers.
This does nothing but cheapen what they offer and create stress for the therapists who eventually decide to choose another option.
Comparison of Therapist Website Service Costs
Considering everything we just learned, you’d think you must be saving thousands (or at least hundreds) of dollars using a website subscription service, but let’s break down the numbers:
Brighter Vision Website
$100 set up fee, regardless of the package you choose
$59/mo for basic, $89/mo for middle, $119/mo for advanced
>> You do NOT own your website or domain name.
$159-$219 To get your website up and running.
$2,416-$2,956 Total after two years
$59/mo for all websites; $40/mo to add their SEO Boost
We’ll calculate with the Boost for the best comparison
>> You do NOT own your website or domain name.
$99 To get your website up and running.
$2,376 Total after two years
And for comparison, I’ll add my own website service costs, which often feel much more expensive up front:
My Digital Maven Website
$172.80 for annual SquareSpace fees (includes your first year discounted, one domain, website hosting, mobile optimization, website security and privacy of your personal data)
$1,997 for website set up, website design, branding elements, copywriting specialized for therapy clients, and foundational SEO set up for you
>> You own your website.
>> You get two months of website support to learn SquareSpace so you can DIY your website maintenance, if you prefer.
$2,169.80 To get your website up and running
$2,385.80 Total after two years
Conclusion of our brighter vision vs therapysites review:
When you sign up for a therapist website subscription service with TherapySites or Brighter Vision, you end up getting much less than you anticipated:
You get a website service, not a website or domain you own (unless you purchase it elsewhere).
You still have to do most of the SEO yourself, like identifying keywords and phrases that are best in your geographic area, connecting Google Analytics, and reviewing Google Analytics yourself (unless you’re on the highest Brighter Vision plan or choose the “SEO Boost” from TherapySites).
You still have to write the website copy (the text content) on your own, or risk using the generic templates that may not use your voice and very likely make Google angry.
You don’t need either of these services to have a HIPAA secure form on your website or HIPAA secure email attached to your domain, but they will each imply these are unique things that are very complicated to set up and require extra payment.
Over a two year period, having a personalized AND optimized website from My Digital Maven is actually cheaper than using Brighter Vision and only $9.80 more than using TherapySites.
You get a far more personalized website that will set you up for successful SEO, give you a branded online presence, and your website will be something you can easily edit on your own, whenever you want. If you’d like to invest in a website sounds and feels exactly like you, click here to book a FREE consultation with me. I’m confident we can provide you a website you’ll love, that will also bring you an excellent return on investment.
Comments are open and I welcome them! Please remember to be kind and respectful.