The Website Design Process

Making sure your new dental practice website meets expectations.

reviewing website contentWith lots of new websites appearing every week, it’s important to make sure that your new site is sufficiently different to stand out from the crowd.  We manage several hundreds of websites for dentists and the associated analytics data shows just how fickle users are when they land on your site for the first time. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention before they decide to navigate elsewhere.

It’s relatively straightforward to show that the websites which are fresh and engaging, hold a users attention much more effectively than sites which are stale or function poorly for some other reason. Where the user finds it worthwhile to hang around on your website, the more chance you have of them getting in touch and hopefully becoming a new patient. This is why it really does pay to make time to ensure that your new practice website is excellent, rather than accept a generic offering which won’t help your plans to gain new patients from the web.

A rigorous design process

It is understandable that most dentists or their practice managers likely won’t know the best practices for creating a great website and consequently need help to guide them through the process. This is where an experienced designer will make a significant difference and really help you to achieve a website which represents your practice and services professionally. However, you should still expect to do a fair bit of work yourself at this stage – whilst your designer should be guiding you every step of the way, information they request will need to be provided in a timely manner if the new site is to come to fruition in a sensible timescale.

Avoid generic

Way too many dentists websites are based on purchased templates these days and it’s quite obvious when you view them. Where a designer does this, they are not really interested in taking the time to create a bespoke site which is personalised and meets your precise needs, more that they want to get the job finished quickly and move on to the next one. So you should be sure to find out if your website is truly bespoke or if it’s just another “same old” WordPress template with a few dental photographs and some generic treatment text. Remember what was said above about fickle web users – this type of website may get you online quickly but your visitors will be heading elsewhere even faster.

Design questionnaires and interviews

To prepare thoroughly, here at Dental Media we issue a comprehensive design questionnaire to all of our new website clients. Where branding is to be developed, this is subject to a separate questionnaire. The idea here is to glean as much information as possible about the client’s preferences and objectives; from simple things such as preferred colour schemes right through to questions about patient demographics, treatment details and business objectives. Whilst it might seem an onerous task to collate all of this information, hopefully it’s easy to see why we need it if we are to create an exceptional website for you.

To complement the questionnaires, we will also conduct detailed discussions on the telephone or face-to-face at the practice. The more information we have, the better we understand your business and the better the completed website.

The draft design

Before we launch into a “coded” website, it is important to establish how the website will look and so a draft design is created using all of the information from the questionnaires and interviews. This will include a graphical representation of the website, an initial page plan and navigation structure and possibly a representation of how certain page elements, e.g. image sliders etc, will function. The intention is to provide the client with a very clear idea of how the website will look and function.

Hopefully the client loves the design and after a few iterations, perhaps slight changes to colours and fonts, we can push on and complete the coding and content addition. However, we don’t get it right every time and we encourage the client to tell us if there is anything that is not meeting expectations. Design is quite subjective and hence if we need to start again with something completely different, then this is no problem. We keep re-working until the client is 100% satisfied and only then do we proceed. This means that you can be completely confident with the design you receive.

“Spec” work

Periodically we are asked to do “spec” work which we decline. This is work where the client asks for a design to be submitted before any payment or commitment is made; and for the designer, this is a huge risk. Noting the process above where information is collected and hours of work go into creating a draft design, hopefully it’s understandable why we choose not to participate in “spec” work. This type of pitch is often done by young companies who are trying to establish themselves in a market, but we prefer to ask dentists to view our portfolio, seek references as needed and also be confident in the iterative and consultative nature of our design phase.

Summary

Production of exceptional websites for dentists requires a lot of up-front planning and preparation. An experienced designer will guide you through all of the steps on the journey to the finished site, but you should also expect to have quite a lot of input into the initial planning process to ensure that the site is truly personalised and meets your expectations in full. With the plethora of generic template sites being published these days, most built on cheap WordPress templates, you need to be prepared to work in a different way to ensure you stand out from the crowd.

Here at Dental Media we take the time to gather as much information as possible from you before we embark on the design phase. We do not use pre-designed templates and your website will be completely unique and customised to your specific needs. To find out more, please call our team on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to discuss.