Basic Mistakes With Mobile Websites

Check your dental website for these four common errors

optimising website designMany dentists (not all!) have now realised that it is essential to ensure that their practice websites are mobile-friendly. This is not just essential to ensure a good user experience, but also to ensure that Google doesn’t penalise your search ranking results.

It pays to remember that Google now creates its search results index using a “mobile first” methodology, i.e. they recognise that most users now access website using mobile ‘phones and consequently create the search index using mobile content rather than desk-top. So if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, then you are clearly disadvantaged!

However, even though many dentist’s websites are generally mobile-friendly, we still see lots of mistakes which can compromise the user experience and consequently lead to diminished enquiries. Don’t forget that web users are generally very fickle and will soon hop off to another website (your competitor?!) if you don’t deliver the browsing experience they expect.

So let’s take a look at four common errors we regularly see on mobile dental websites.

Slow load speed

This is a function of a few factors but typically a) poor design and coding and b) poor server performance.

Here at Dental Media, when we are designing client’s websites, we always think “mobile first” i.e. when we are creating concept designs, we don’t start with the large desk-top display but primarily look at the mobile layout first. This may sound a bit odd but actually it’s very logical when you consider that most people now access websites from their ‘phone or tablet rather than the desk-top computer. So it makes sense to start “mobile first”! Of course the other layouts need to be excellent too, but if there are any compromises required in the design, it’s always best to know this when you start with the mobile view.

Where we see other design agencies making big mistakes, it’s often down to leaving the mobile layout as a secondary consideration i.e. they start at the desk-top layout, refine that and then try to cobble together a mobile version latterly. But this isn’t the way of modern “responsive” mobile-friendly website design.

We also see designers trying to be too clever with designs; adding far too many bells and whistles which can look nice on a big screen but mess up performance and usability on much smaller ‘phone and tablet screens. A classic example is the use of background video which is always a compromise as we’ve discussed in an earlier blog here. If these are not handled very carefully, it’s very easy to trash your mobile and desk-top performance. This is just one example of ill-conceived design where form reigns over function but your users don’t benefit!

So watch out for any features which might look pretty but don’t actually work well on the mobile view of your website. There are tools to evaluate this so ensure you check in with your designer to make sure your mobile site isn’t compromised by poor design and content; and preferably before you go live!

The second factor which messes up load speed is where a design company cuts cost by using cheap servers or overloads them with too many websites. This is a regular occurrence unfortunately. Whilst you don’t need a dedicated turbo-charged server for most dental websites as they are generally relatively small and not resource intensive, you do need to ensure that the hosting infrastructure being used is not only secure but also fast and efficient too. Again there are tools to test this, so please make your designer aware that you are on the case and checking!

Poor placement of contact details

This may seems like an obvious one, but all too often we see mobile websites where the primary contact details are not prominent, or worse, just hidden somewhere on the website contact page. As we pointed out earlier, users are fickle and they want to be able to contact you without having to navigate through your website. So as a minimum, ensure that there is a “click to call” function at the top of the page which is nice and clear.

Lack of call-to-action

This can be said of desk-top websites too, but often we see the all-important calls-to-action disappear when the site is viewed on mobile devices. Designers will often “hide” page details which they find hard to incorporate on mobile views, but please ensure that they aren’t hiding those critical call-to-action features which prompt your users to get in touch.

You have a separate mobile website rather than a responsive design

You may not have realised this but some companies are now using online DIY website building tools such as Wix and Squarespace to sell dental websites. Most professional website designers don’t see this is a very good way to proceed as we’ve detailed in another of our advisory blogs here. However, one of the key reasons to avoid this type of system is that several of them actually have you produce two websites, a desk-top version and a mobile version. This is quite retrograde and a throw-back to the days before responsive design came into being.

With responsive design, you simply have a single website and one set of content which adjusts automatically to the screen it is being viewed on, whether that is a desk-top PC, tablet or mobile ‘phone. So you don’t need to worry that your changes are being cascaded to a second website because there isn’t one. However, with a lot of DIY website builders, when you change your desk-top site version, you then have to go and check the changes on the mobile version. This really isn’t very good as it leads to all sorts of issues where the secondary version was not upgraded correctly. If you’ve ever seen a mobile website built with one of these tools, you’ll know what I mean. It’s usually not good.

So if you designer says they want to use Wix, Squarespace or the like, you may wish to call a halt and go find another designer.

Summary

It’s clear that a highly-functional, professionally built mobile-friendly website is critical for any business which needs to attract new clients from the web, and of course this includes dentists too. However, we still see far too many mobile sites which are sub-standard and consequently failing to deliver for their owners. Some of these issues are relatively straightforward to fix but others are structural and less easy to address.

Please take a few minutes to check your own website for issues on mobile view. If you have any concerns and needs some experienced help with a second check, please get in touch with the web team here at Dental Media on 01332 672548. We’ll be pleased to make an assessment and offer no-obligation advice.