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Six tips to ensure your payment site isn’t just another pretty (inter)face. 

In the world of website design, aesthetics are only a small part of the story. A truly well-designed site is much more than a pretty (inter)face. It is simple for users to navigate, offers effective visual communication, and guides and prompts interaction. Although an attractive appearance may serve as a site’s positive first impression, the graphical user interface (GUI) must join function with form to make a site intuitive and useful for visitors.

This truth becomes increasingly important for websites that provide online payment capabilities and account access.

Intuitive Online Payment

Every color, word, and graphic element must be created and placed judiciously to enhance users’ experiences and influence behavior so they easily conduct business online. Every click should innately lead to the next so that users complete payments barrier-free rather than abandoning their attempts out of frustration.

If your organization is like many in health care, you already have or are planning to introduce a web-based payment portal to capture revenue and provide convenience for patients. Across our industry, we’re seeing providers achieve measurable increases in collections thanks to the simplicity and immediacy of online payment options. Just by having a payment portal, providers increase the odds of receiving settlement from patients. However, imagine how those odds could be improved further by thoughtfully designing the portal for intuitive navigation and ease of use.

How Well Designed Is Your Portal?

Does your portal look and run like something from the MS-DOS era? Is its beauty only screen deep? Or does its form and function work in harmony to evoke action from users, resulting in more revenue for your organization?

Here are some key considerations to ensure your GUI is all it should be and more.

Begin with your brand. If good design is about more than aesthetics, why is branding mentioned first on this list? Your branding represents your organization. From a visitor’s first moment on your portal, they must be assured they’re in the right place and interacting with the trusted entity they sought out. By clearly showing your brand, you provide a virtual welcome mat for your users, offering peace of mind that they are providing payment information in a trusted, secure environment.

Keep it simple. Good design often hinges on what’s left out as much as what’s included. An inviting, well-designed GUI is uncluttered, artfully edited, and free of unnecessary elements so that essential features get the spotlight. There’s typically no need for extensive copy on the home page of a payment portal. Users come to such sites with general working knowledge of expected functionality, so eliminate thick blocks of text and always go with standards of patient-friendly billing. The following example illustrates a simple, yet effective portal page.

Emdeon Portal Screen Shot

Offer immediate and easy interaction. Make sure the login area of your payment portal is obvious and easy to click on from the main page, and build in prompts to encourage site users to sign in right away. It’s vital for users to login as quickly as possible so that users are primed and ready to access their accounts and make payments.

Communicate through layout and design. Use colors, graphic elements (static or animated), and text call-outs to influence visitor behavior. Draw attention to key, action-oriented information by formatting it in a brighter color and using a bold font. Include visual buttons to invite clicks. These buttons are known in the world of web design to prompt response. Give the page layout enough white space (areas without text or graphics) to ensure that your messaging remains uncluttered.

Mobilize your efforts. Each day, more people are accessing the Internet through mobile devices. Smartphones and tablet computers account for an ever-increasing percentage of web traffic, so be sure your site looks and functions as well on different screen sizes and in various operating systems as it does on a standard desktop or laptop computer. Ideally, your site should have mobile detection so that a mobile-optimized version of the site loads automatically depending on what device is accessing it.

Prioritize secure architecture. Build layers of security into your entire site design. It’s recommended to require authentications and go with a third-party verification service to provide constant assurance to users that their transactions and account information are protected. Include visual reminders of the secure measures you’ve taken to protect your site to give users subtle, constant certainty. Make privacy statements available, as well.

Prompt Collections

Employing these artful measures when designing (or redesigning) your patient payment portal will provide patients with the ease and convenience of online account status tracking and payments they’ve come to expect in this era of online commerce. Likewise, you’ll be able to capture more prompt, complete payments for your organization. And that’s a well-designed arrangement for everyone!

Emdeon Patient Pay Online is a self-service patient application that provides online billing and payment management. Patients can access their providers' websites and view, manage, and pay their accounts online.

Publication Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2013