How important is it to have an appealing website? According to comScore, a digital analytics company, more than 139.1 million consumers utilize the Internet to seek healthcare information from healthcare sites on a monthly basis.
Remember, even prospective patients who hear about you from a family or friend are still likely to check out your practice website before making the decision to book an appointment. So, in this day and age, when most, if not all, of your competitors have a website, how does your practice stand out? Your prospective patients are online. Once they find your website, what will make them choose you?
Your website is your best opportunity—outside of a face-to-face discussion with a patient—to communicate what you and your staff value, and what makes your practice unique. Building a website that is primarily focused on patient needs, is user-friendly, and is search engine-optimized can be challenging. It starts by asking yourself the following: “What will prospective patients look for when they visit my site, and what elements could potentially turn them away?” In this two-part blog series, we’ll share the top ten mistakes to avoid in building a dental website, and how to avoid them. Today’s blog, part I, will focus on the design and functionality of the website. Part II, which will be released soon, will focus on the content and presentation of the website. This blog series is based off of the Sesame Guide to Practice Success (GPS): The Top 10 Mistakes in Building a Dental Website—And How to Avoid Them.
For now, let’s explore the first five mistakes to avoid with building your dental website:
Splash Pages and Animated Introductions
Splash pages, or the pages the user sees before they actually visit your website, are typically built in flash (an outdated animation platform) and offer some kind of introductory animation. Not only are splash pages outdated, they are also terrible for your website’s search engine optimization, or SEO.
The bigger problem, however, with splash pages, sometimes called landing pages—or any kind of animated introductions—is distraction. Remember, most visitors to your site want to be informed, not entertained; they are looking to solve a problem like tooth pain or crooked teeth. Any animation on your site is a major barrier to getting patients to pick up the phone and call.
Music and Sound Effects
Again, distractions … distractions … distractions. Prospective patients may want to visit your site privately, without anyone else being within earshot of your website’s music. So, unless you sell music, it’s best to stay clear of music on auto play. If music, which makes your website look dated, absolutely must be present, give viewers the option to opt-in. In other words, give visitors the option to turn the music on manually. But, by default, keep the music off.
Patients visit your website to learn more about the dental or orthodontic care at your practice, so your marine- or golf-themed website might not necessarily appeal to a mom in search of a dentist or orthodontist for her pre-teen child, for example.
Focus on a design that promotes the quality, friendly care at your practice, not your hobbies. Besides being confusing and looking out of place, a themed website may also inadvertently cause a potential patient to scratch their heads and ask, “Am I paying for his ski trips?”
Broken pages and bad links
There’s no way for patients to imagine what you might have said about a service you offer if they cannot access that information. Bad links or pages that are labeled “under construction” or “coming soon” not only prevent potential patients from accessing pages on your website, they may also annoy them to the point of moving on to a competitor’s website.
Search engines tend to send visitors to websites they know are maintained and trustworthy before sending them to a website that hasn’t been maintained by the business in months.
Finally, missing and broken links send a bad message to prospective patients: If you can’t take good care of your website, why should people believe you can take good care of their teeth?
Slow-loading web pages
Because Google wants to provide a positive experience for its users, the search engine will try to send users to websites that load quickly. Currently it’s a moderate ranking factor, but Google and Bing have both declared that this will be a metric they will be placing more focus on with each update.
Again, anyone who is visiting your site will want to find what they’re looking for pretty quickly. Avoid at all costs anything that can slow down the load time of the website, such as pop-ups or unnecessary animations.
Check back next week for part II, which will focus on the content and presentation on your website. In the meantime, click to download a copy of the latest Sesame GPS: The Top 10 Mistakes in Building a Dental Website—And How to Avoid Them.