Why your website needs to look ‘dental’

Why your website needs to look ‘dental’

Arty, minimalist websites might look great but….

We’ve recently received several requests from dentists to build websites which are “minimalist”, “artistic” and “don’t look like a dental website”. This seems to be a recurring theme in the last year or so and one which is not really well-informed or very useful in my experience. So why is that?

Historically we’ve built a couple of dental websites which have been “off theme” at the specific request of the dentist and to be frank, they’ve not performed as well as “mainstream” sites either in Google or in terms of user-experience. One of them was briefed to be “like Apple, not like a dentist” and the others were based on high-end art dealers through to fashion-designers and watch makers. I stress that these projects were completed to very prescriptive client briefs.

We employ a range of data collection techniques to evaluate the performance of all of our client’s websites and it became clear that for the examples mentioned above, that the performance wasn’t what we would normally expect. We could see that in numerous cases, visitors would land on the sites and then leave quite quickly.

Further investigation, including a survey of the dentist’s existing patients, showed that numerous users didn’t think that they’d landed on a dentist’s website whereas others understood that the site was dental, but didn’t like how it tried to be too “posh”. What they actually wanted was a high-quality website which was instantly “dental” and gave clear, useful information in an easy-to-use format. Not an esoteric art installation.

This is just one lesson we’ve learned in over 20 years of web design and it’s valuable “real life” experience we can bring to bear when advising new clients; including what works well and what is likely to fail when it comes to meeting the expectations of users (and Google) with your practice website. Incidentally, we’ve since rebuilt those websites mentioned above and they now perform extremely well.

Keep it ‘dental’

It’s clear that a beautifully crafted, highly-functional and informative website is essential in these days of increasing competition; however, please keep it ‘dental’ as this is ultimately what the vast majority of new patients want to see.

Of course it makes sense to adjust the design and “feel” of the website commensurate with the service and location; for example it is likely that something we build for a Harley Street specialist whose patients might include VIPs, will differ somewhat for a new dentist setting up a squat in a small northern village. This is just about making sure that the demographic target is suitably catered for. However, in either case it’s essential that the user knows instantly that they are interacting with a dentist and not a fashion designer or watchmaker.

Whilst it’s clear that there may be some similarities between the precision of a watchmaker and an oral surgeon placing implants, and it may be fine to leverage on that, always remember that it’s a website for a dentist and users need to know that immediately, not have to wade through a bunch of esoteric imagery. Big brands might be able to get away with that but I’d strongly suggest that you don’t overdo it – ultimately it’s about your user and not so much about your own preferences.

Summary

It’s quite a short blog today but one that I feel is very important. “Horses for courses” or whatever you want to call it – it’s basically ensuring that your website meets your patient’s expectations and doesn’t pander to personal preferences at the expense of clarity and usability.

Remember too that Google can evaluate your website in all sort of ways, including how easy it is to use and whether the information it provides answers the questions of users. If it fails in any of those areas, then prepare to do badly in the Google rankings as well as frustrating potential new patients.

Need advice on developing an excellent and appropriate website for your own dental practice? Please call the team at Dental Media on 01332 672548 for experienced guidance.