How to Design an Effective Dental Web Site
By: Roger Eshaghian, DDS
When done well, a Web site provides a powerful, cost-effective tool for marketing your dental practice. When done poorly, it can quickly turn into a large sinkhole that eats up your marketing budget, wastes your time and resources and causes untold frustration.
To design a winning Web site, first get very clear on your goals and objectives for the site. Decide what you want the site to accomplish and how you will use it to interact with your clientele. Once you have completed these critical steps, then you can begin to design a site that will effectively spread the word about your practice.
During the design stage, it helps to follow a few basic principles:
1. Make a good first impression on your site. You have about 10 to 15 seconds to grab the visitor's attention on your Web site. Your first page should:
- Load quickly (not too many graphics)
- Be well-designed and visually appealing
- Make it easy for visitors to find what they want on your site
If people like what they see, you have a chance to develop a relationship with them through your site. If not, they will click somewhere else and probably never return.
2. Avoid "hard sell" tactics. Sophisticated Web users shun aggressive and/or deceptive marketing tactics. Instead, provide value to your visitors through factual, well-written information that creates a positive impression about you and your practice. Make it worth their while to visit so that they decide to continue the relationship with you.
3. Match your site to your target market. For example, if seniors make up a large portion of your market, keep your site as simple as possible and avoid the use of trendy jargon. If you want to attract a younger crowd, consider using flashier graphics, splashy colors and "hip" language.
4. Avoid clutter. Don't try to cram too much onto one page, especially your home page. A good Web site is like a good smile - clean, neat and pleasing to the eye.
5. Be consistent with your own personality. A web site should reflect your personality as a dental professional, your specialty (if any), and the look and feel of your practice as a whole. Don't try to be somebody you're not.
6. Use appropriate page names. Every page on your site needs to have a name that clearly relates to your practice. Otherwise, when people bookmark the page and come back a week or two later, they won't remember that it applies to you.
7. Understand the medium. The Internet is a subtle marketing medium. You don't have to shout to get people's attention as you do with magazine ads or radio and TV spots. Write simple, straightforward copy that clearly conveys the benefits of your practice.
Keep in mind that people who use the Web tend to be more sophisticated and make more money than your average patient. Plus, they have already expressed an interest by choosing to visit your Web site. To appeal to their level of sophistication, design a stylish, professional-looking Web site, respect their time online by providing useful information and make it easy for them to find that information.
Do these three things and you stand a good chance of developing an ongoing relationship with the kind of patients that build a healthy, growing practice.
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