10 Ways To Design Your Dental Practice Website
To Delight Your Patients
10 Ways To Design A Successful Dental Practice Website
And Develop Your Dental Practices’ Business Potential
Choosing the right design for a website can be a difficult process. There is a lot of advice available but the key component is ensuring that your site engages your existing or new patients and drives back business benefits for your practice.
It is very easy to look at reference sites in the health sector that ‘look nice’ (graphically) which is critical for 1st impressions, but do these websites also ensure easy navigation, finding key information and educating your patients?
Helping Your Patients To Find Your Dental Practice In Google
Our separate article looks at ‘attracting more customers to your website’ which is essential and a key consideration when investing online. Known as SEO (search engine optimisation) this method, along with other techniques our team advise on, are focussed on driving potential new patients to your website. This is critical to retain NHS revenues and drive up additional sales, private dental and emergency consultations. It is particularly important to compete on a level playing field with your competitors who will have invested into an online presence.
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Experiences Of Investing In A Website For A Dental Practice – Dr Jatin Patel
Dental practitioner Dr Jatin Patel, who has run a group of dental practices, explains his experiences of websites that do and do not have SEO factored into their development investment:
“In my experience our first step was really to have a website and online presence. Initially this was to enable patients just to find us. I quickly realised what a powerful tool the website is. The ability to tailor a multitude of messages to our patient base significantly improves our chances at engagement with them. At the initial level our website allowed our patients to understand the services we offer and also conveyed the ethos and philosophy of our practice. Patients are very perceptive and will pick up on a well designed and informative website. The website allowed our group of practices to highlight key interest and promotions they have which ultimately may be why the patient is browsing through the practice website.
The patient may have been directed to the well planned website to gain further information on available treatments or reinforce prevention messages given by our clinicians.
We understood that our time with patients was limited within the practice so the website proved to be an extension of our engagement with them. The evolution and what I see now an essential part of any website is SEO. This is a direct way which allows us as clinicians to put emphasis on key treatments, specialities, preventative message and latest offers. SEO is an evolving and dynamic feature of your website which will allow new patients to find you and more importantly patients who are actively looking for specific treatments to find you quickly.
Good SEO management will ensure that you are always near the top of any searches a patient may conduct online. The knock on effect of this that we experienced is that the number of new patient’s increased and that these are patients who have come to us for specific treatments that they have researched. Overall this increase in numbers of informed patients coupled with a well designed and SEO optimised website led to an increase in our turnover.
In our present day I feel that our website without any SEO will not firstly be found by our patients and therefore will not attract any new clients. If patients see that we are not visible on web then it can often lead to them judging our techniques and treatments in a negative way.“
10 Key Considerations When Planning Your Practices’ Website
Following are some of the most commonly missed (but essential) design elements that I and my team have come across on websites that have been created for private practices, NHS dentists, doctors’ surgeries and indeed commercial businesses. Hopefully this list will help guide you or your practice team on ‘what to avoid’ and more importantly ‘what to include’ when considering your website investment.
1. Contact Information:
The way to phone or email your practice should be clearly visible on each page of your website, in the top right hand corner or right hand column and above the ‘fold’ (the area that is visible on most screens without having to scroll down).
These details should be especially prominent on the home (main front) page. As more and more people use mobiles to research your website and make contact, more customers will be attracted to you if you’re contact details are easy to find.
Our experience indicates that most patients prefer to communicate by phoning your practice, secondly an increasing group will choose to email you.
Good example: www.quicksmile.co.uk
2. Office Hours:
Even existing patients may not recall which hours your practice is open and when it comes down to an emergency what do.
Displaying your opening hours, contact hours (which may differ if for example you offer an out of hours email service or emergency service) really makes life easy for your patients. In addition it cuts down on calls to your receptionists to answer this type of enquiry, so an efficiency saving too.
3. Social Media Links:
Social media (Facebook, Twitter and so on) are increasingly used as an alternative way to engage with your businesses and they also give your website an extra boost.
Your social media links should be easy to find on your website and included on the base of advice articles/blog content to encourage sharing. Sharing key advice on social media is a powerful way to drive more interest, investment or patients to your practice.
If your articles are sufficiently well written then a link to your website from a highly credible source (e.g. The British Dental Association or The British Medical Association) will massively increase the visibility of your website in Google. This makes your practice easier to find and increases your business growth potential.
Good example: www.gentlingdental.com
4. Dental Products and Services:
Of course, not every dental practice offers the same services as the next. Are you solely offering NHS services, Private dental services or a mix of both? Do you offer next day appointments? What about teeth whitening or other specialist services? And can you be called in an emergency at 3am on a Saturday morning?
If your services are not listed or explained then patients researching your practice on line will probably leave your website to review another practice or this may result in increased call traffic to your reception staff to answer the same questions again and again. Clearly defined products can also be sold directly on your website if an e-commerce (shop) option is selected in your website development – increasing the potential to sell products e.g. toothbrushes or other dental products and thus increasing revenue potential.
Along with the ‘human’ benefits of clearly defining the products and services you offer, there is an uplift benefit within Google – the better your content is written, with clear helpful advice, the more likely your site will appear in Google above your competitors. Content writing online is truly an art form but with the correct web team working with you, it is something that they can help you with.
Most critically it is important to list and explain in non-technical terms exactly what you offer.
Good example: www.annapolissmiles.com
5. Maintaining Your Practices’ Website
Too many websites we review in all sectors (not just the medical sector) are out of date, do not work on mobile devices or have up to date contact details.
Informing your patients of changes to the way your practice is operating (e.g. “we now open on Saturdays” or “You can now book via our App” or “We know offer safe teeth whitening services”) all help to make your patients feel looked after. This trust will in turn increase revenues from new services and by upselling products. Customers online are fickle and must be nurtured at all stages of contact, the rewards will be felt in time on your bottom line.
A well maintained modern website also shows that you are a highly professional practice, to those who don’t already known you, that is up to date with dental and overall practices.
Falling behind on your website development is akin to letting your reception areas get run down, paint peeling, carpets worn and so on. The chance to gain a valuable positive first impression is lost before the patient even walks through your ‘online’ premises (website).
In addition, as search engines like Google change their methods to promote or demote websites there is a risk your website will no longer be easily found. Search engines favour up to date websites and informative content that ‘solves a problem’.
Good example (at the bottom of the page): www.stephenkristdds.com
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6. How Many Web Pages Should A Practice Site Have?
It is not essential to have a massive website but more importantly one that provides essential contact details and credible information such ‘advice on cleaning your teeth’ or ‘how to avoid gum disease’. All this advice builds up trust, confidence and demonstrates your expertise.
Modern websites can be built in a single page format with sections that break up the content by services, details about the team and so on. The downside is however that this can be a challenge for patients to navigate around and limits your ability to please Google (yes them again!).
At the very least we recommend single practice sites that have a minimum of 10 pages or ideally more to compete for essential search terms like “orthodontist in X town, offering Y specialism”. Pages can include blog posts which means that the number of tabs (those across the top of the website like “About”, ”Services”, ”Prices”, ”Contact” don’t become too numerous. This organised approach helps your patients (and staff) find key contact swiftly.
For a group of practices, an alternative approach is to have a central Group site, known as a portal website, that contains key documentation for all the practices as well as information and pages that relate to regional practices.
There are pros and cons for both approaches, which must be carefully advised on and considered. The balance you need to strike is between ease of human use and visibility in search engines. At the same time addressing your objectives for having a web presence in the first place ‘why do we need a website?’ is a key starting question to ask oneself.
Good example: www.newbernsmiles.com
In the UK there are guidelines for website development that outline how websites should be built, displayed etc. to make accessing them easy for the general public most importantly to be inclusive of people with visual impairments or who are blind. We can not outline all these in this article but we have provided details of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
If fonts are unsuitably large, on a background that makes them awkward to view or too ‘fussy’ then the value of your content to users will be hindered.
For example most websites today avoiding overuse of Serif fonts (those like Times New Roman), which have ‘tails’ on each letter. Fonts such as Helvetica are favoured for their ease to read particularly when there are large paragraphs of text.
Good example: www.dupontwilkerson.com
8. Website Colours :
Certain colours will provoke an emotional response, for example red typically creates a ‘fear’ reaction. So selecting brand colours evokes a psychological allegiance to your practice and these must be consistently applied across your business (not just online).
On screens, desktop devices, mobile phones and tablet devices – using colours that clash or are hard to read e.g. too soft such as a very light grey will cause general users to struggle to read your content. In terms of web accessibility placing a certain colour font on a certain colour background for example black on red or black and yellow can render the site literally ‘invisible’ to people who have colour blindness or vision that is impaired in other ways.
Good example: www.DGDentistry.com
9. Dental Practice Address & Location Map:
Ensure that your business address, post code and a map are included in your website. Normally this is placed on your home page and in many cases on your contact page.
Post code accuracy is increasingly important as people use either inbuilt sat navs in their cars, on phones or by printing a map from Google prior to making a journey. It is also a good idea to include parking details nearby, bus routes, nearest bus stop location or train station. Making the journey as easy as possibly and reducing ‘stress’ can really win favour with your patients (and mean a more relaxed interaction at Reception).
In addition to helping your customers plan their journey to you (so hopefully less missed appointments) if your map is built correctly it will help your website appear in ‘local search results’ at the top of a Google search. This is essential for new and existing customers to locate your physical premises but also for your business to be initially found online.
Good example: www.cobbdentistry.net
10. Not Having a Website (At All):
Your practice will be increasingly unusual to your customers if it does not have a website or some kind of web presence for example a Facebook page. Many Internet users feel that ‘no website equals lack of trust or that your practice is no longer trading’.
This is not just a perception that is true of the younger generation but increasingly all ages. A well informed, tech savvy, over 60’s population regularly use the Internet to manage their day-to-day lives.
The easier you are to find online the more potential you have to drive up incremental business equity and engage with customers easily. A ‘win win’ investment strategy.
Contact Our Specialist Team To Help Plan Your Website Development
If you would like to learn more please contact our specialist team on: Contact@Sparks4Growth.Com or call us on: 0203 758 3999