Do you want your dental website to look like a Dubai hotel?
Or should it be built to match your audience?
As a long-standing provider of websites for dentists, it’s perhaps not surprising that we spend quite a lot of time speaking with dental business owners about how their new websites should look and function.
This is clearly important to ensure that what we build truly reflects the objectives, personality and aspirations of the practice.
Like all businesses, not all dentists are the same and the types of treatments they target can differ quite significantly depending on their expertise, facilities, location and more. This all has to be taken into account very carefully before a website is constructed.
However, what is noticeable in the industry at the moment is that some dentists are launching websites which look quite “flashy” but probably don’t best represent what they are actually trying to achieve. In fact their sites could actually be doing them a disservice rather than helping to attract new dental patients.
The mistake of trying to make yourself look like something you’re not was recently reinforced to me by a dentist who was commenting on another dental web agency whose websites he described as “all looking the same and like the websites of Dubai hotels”. This was despite the fact that a number of the websites he referenced were for relatively small practices based in industrial towns or small villages; some even with quite large NHS contracts. This was a bit of a lightbulb moment and I knew exactly what he meant and indeed the design style he was referencing.
Why does it matter?
You might think this is obvious but it is important to reiterate that the focus needs to be on the patient and not the personal ambitions and aspirations of the dentist – often the latter can be over-emphasised on websites, leaving patients confused. There is clearly a place for very ‘flashy’ websites, but perhaps not if you’re based in small village or town and serving a rather different demographic than if you were based in an exclusive borough in central London.
So matching your offer to your market is extremely important and whilst it’s absolutely fine (and indeed important) to have a professional web presence which showcases your skills and treatments, don’t go over the top with it. Remember the “Dubai hotel” comment from above which I think is absolutely bang on.
Don’t get flattered by your designer
We’ve discussed how one of the characteristics of dental websites which are ‘over the top’ when it comes to design, is that they focus too much on the dentist themselves. So you will sometimes see moody photography and video of the dentist, even in non-clinical environments. This type of content isn’t really going to resonate with your average user to be frank and is best left out. Much more important is to focus on the patient and how you can resolve their problems, rather than a flattering photo shoot of you.
Don’t follow fashion!
Exacerbating the increase in poorly focussed dental websites are dentists who appear to follow trends and aspire to be just like the ‘celebrity’ dentists who operate in central London, Birmingham etc. They’ve seen those flashy websites which are targeted to specific demographics in those locations and then attempt to follow suite. This would be fine in the right context but often it’s not, and they end up with a website which really isn’t appropriate for their needs at that point in their evolution. We see this a lot in certain dentistry associations and circles where it’s understandable that younger dentists want to follow in the footsteps of their successful senior colleagues. But the key is to do this at the right time, in the right location and when it’s appropriate for the audience.
Getting the balance right
To ensure that your website is appropriate for your needs *and* your audience there are a few simple rules to follow:
- focus on the patient and solving their problems – it’s about them, not about you
- understand your audience – how will they perceive a website which looks like a Dubai hotel?
- don’t pay silly prices – some companies are charging £8k + for a website which just isn’t necessary
- personalise – avoid glitzy stock images, but ultimately focus on the patient
- don’t include unnecessary “bells and whistles”. These add little value and actually slow a site down; bad for SEO
- keep it professional but not over-the-top. Don’t let form overcome function
- don’t overwhelm the user but *do* include sufficient text content for Google to help SEO
- understand that technical performance is just as important as aesthetics
A note about site speed, technical performance and search engine optimisation
Another characteristic of the “Dubai hotel” dental websites is that their technical performance is often very poor. Page loading speed is becoming increasingly important for search engine ranking and many of these sites are built using very slow WordPress templates which fail badly when checked with the official Google speed checking tools. Ironically the designers often claim to be experts with SEO, but all of the evidence suggests otherwise. This is another important reason why you need to make sure exactly what you are buying into.
There is a proliferation in the number of dental websites which are arguably not really fit for purpose, both in that they don’t represent the dentist’s business most effectively and that they are poor from a technical perspective. There are several reasons for this; from dentists following fashion just a little bit too closely, to losing sight of what their audience actually is. The result is that the website can actually do them more harm than good.
To avoid this happening to you, please make sure that you have an open discussion with your designer about your business, your target audience and your objectives. Don’t be fooled into thinking that another flashy website built on a WordPress template will be the answer to all your needs – it likely won’t and you could be a lot worse off as a result!
For an objective and transparent discussion about websites which work, why not give the team at Dental Media a call on 01332 672548?Google+