7.16.10 Issue #436 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Does Your Website Have This?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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When was the last time you logged on to your practice website? And please, in 2010, you can’t tell me that you don’t have a website because in this world of constant communication that would be like not having a cell phone. So I will simply assume that if you are reading this electronic newsletter, you earned your Internet stripes long ago and your “storefront” is well positioned with the appropriate www-dot-address on the information superhighway. Which brings me back to my question: When was the last time you took a good look at your website and considered it from the patient’s perspective?

For virtually any commercial operation, the website is the entrance to the business, regardless of whether you are providing dental services, plumbing services, management services, etc. If it looks dumpy and outdated, passersby will think the same of your practice. Prospective patients take one look and pass judgment literally in less than the blink of an eye. If it is visually appealing to them, they are likely to take some time to explore and learn more about what your practice has to offer. If it isn’t, those prospective patients are on to another site almost instantaneously. 

Conduct a website inventory and determine if yours has the key elements that current and prospective patients expect, starting with the four I’ve outlined below.  

1. Is Your Site Appealing?
Patients want a visually pleasant site that they can identify with. Consider the photos and other images on your site. Do they look like the patients that you are trying to attract? You want your practice website to have a look and feel that will appeal to patients that are likely to seek out your services. And keep in mind that while you may personally love a slick, high-end looking website that would be worthy of an audience in downtown Manhattan, if your locale is rural America a different look may be more appropriate. Similarly, if your practice focus is dental implants, dentures, and your demographic is adults and older patients, your website shouldn’t have numerous images of teenagers and young people. You may enjoy the energy and youthful exuberance these images convey, but your target audience will simply assume that your practice focuses on children and teens.

2. Is It Friendly and Informative?
Content should be written in a patient-friendly style. Avoid making the content too technical. The objective is to provide enough information to enable the patient to feel comfortable calling the practice. In addition, keep in mind that what’s interesting to you isn’t necessarily compelling copy for your patients. That fancy new piece of equipment certainly may be worth mentioning, but it’s not necessasrily what will drive the patients to your door.

3. Enlightening or Overkill?
Avoid TMI (too much information). Give enough content that prospective patients can scan the site to gather necessary information without having to read several text-heavy paragraphs. Don’t make this your version of the great American novel. Keep the information clear and straightforward. For example, if you have a page on endodontics it should explain what the procedure is in easy to understand terms – steer clear of dental jargon. It should cover why a patient would need a root canal, and what is involved. Experts recommend using about one to one-and-a-half pages of content per topic.  And always give visitors to your website the option of reading more by clicking on specific terms or tabs to see another page of information.

4. Is It User Friendly?
Can I find my way around? Make it easy to navigate. As for navigation on the site, keep it consistent on every page. If you make prospective patients and other visitors work too hard, they will leave your site and go to your competitor’s. Industry experts recommend horizontal navigation buttons across the top of the page. And rather than having rows and rows of buttons, nest pages under a “parent” page. For example, if you have multiple staff bios you want to highlight, have one button that says “Our Practice” and list the doctors, hygienists, assistants, business team, etc. giving visitors the option of clicking on a name or function to learn more. Remember, the ability to search a website is very important to users. Make sure you provide that option.

Next week, what should you expect to pay for a newly updated website?

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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