Why Not All Websites Are Equal!
Important things to consider before investing in a new dental practice website.
These days it’s easy enough to set up a website, even if it’s using a DIY website builder you saw advertised on TV or from an ad in your Facebook timeline. But what you may not realise at the outset is that not all websites are equal and if you make the wrong choice, then you will likely regret it.
Before we jump in and discuss the types of websites which are available and their respective pros and cons, let’s take a quick look at the characteristics you really should be seeking when building a website for a dental practice. Fall short on some of these and you’ll be behind the pack. But why is this? Well in most areas, there are always a few dentists who understand just how important a great website is and will invest accordingly. This really does make a big difference when it comes to acquiring new patients from the web.
So what should you be looking for when you start your new website project?
- Great looking – but not just form over function
- Easy to use and navigate
- Calls to action to encourage a fast response from users
- Fast loading and SEO optimised
- Technically excellent
- Written empathetically – to “hook” users in as soon as they arrive
- Prominent patient testimonials and reviews
- Case studies
- Galleries and videos
- An integrated blog
If you can achieve the above (and really this should be your target) then you have a great foundation for attracting new patients from the web. However, get it wrong and those enquiries will likely be going elsewhere.
What routes can I take to publish a new dental practice website?
So how can I get online with a new site and what are the pros and cons of the various mechanisms you can use to get there? Let’s take a closer look.
A DIY website builder
You may have seen tools such as Squarespace and WIX advertised on TV and across the web and these can be used to build websites for a relatively modest monthly fee. They typically give you a range of pre-built templates to which you add your content and then publish the site on their platform. But are these systems any good? Well it depends what you need and whether you are content to operate with a generic, technically rather poor platform, simply to get a foot-hold on the web.
If budget is tight, then this might be OK to get you going, but it certainly won’t deliver on all of the desirable features and characteristics which we’ve mentioned above. Believe it or not, there are now a couple of dental marketing agencies using tools like this because it’s cheap and easy for them to deploy new sites; however if you analyse the results technically, then they are really quite poor. These types of issues then knock through to poor search engines ranking and poor usability. The other critical issue is that you are constrained into using the hosting provided by the website building tool – so your website isn’t portable, you’re effectively renting it and you can’t self-host or move it. So these DIY website builders have a place, but not for business critical applications in our opinion.
A CMS with a pre-designed template
There are many websites which sell pre-built templates for “skinning” content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress. Whilst some of these templates can look reasonably professional, there are significant downsides which need to be understood before taking this route. The first is one of ongoing compatibility with the core “engine” of the CMS platform as it updates. These updates are regular and very often the template you purchased will break a few months down the track as it progressively becomes incompatible.
The second major issue is one of security and particularly incompatibility of “plugins” which are frequently used to enhance the functionality of the templates you can purchase. WordPress in particular, is infamous for being hacked and so whilst it’s cheap to get online with a template, unless you invest heavily in keeping everything updated and secure, you will end up with a broken website, or even worse a hacked one.
A professionally built, bespoke design
Without doubt, the best website you can deploy will have been built by a professional designer and to your precise requirements. In the dental field particularly, as well as meeting all of the criteria we listed above, the website will also need to meet all of the requirements of the GDC and other legislative bodies, for example the ICO. Consequently your designer will need to be completely up-to-speed with all of these requirements as well as being capable of producing excellent designs.
Of course there is a cost to the bespoke design route but it is quite easy to demonstrate why it’s an extremely sound investment. If we take into account that a great website, positioned well in Google, is much more likely to attract new patient enquiries than a generic, poorly placed DIY job, the payback should be easy to see without any detailed calculations. If you also take into account that a bespoke site can be completed for around £2.5k + vat, then the investment becomes that much easier to understand. Indeed, it’s a “no brainer” as the saying goes!
If you are embarking on a new dental website project, please consider the options carefully before you jump in. Here at Dental Media we’ve built in excess of 600 website for dentists and we know what works, as well as what doesn’t. You may pay out more for a professional bespoke design, but you’ll certainly love it a lot more and your potential new patients will too!
If you’d like more information and an informal chat, our web team will be delighted to help on 01332 672548. Or please complete the online contact form at the link above if you prefer.Google+