Preparing for your new dental website development
What is the typical lead-time and what do you need to prepare?
In this week’s blog I thought it would be useful to outline what should be expected when you commission a new website from the team at Dental Media. I’ll cover typical lead-times for the project, from inception to launch, together with the roles of the team here and what also needs to be provided by the dental team.
Whilst all dental website projects and designs are unique, the project sequence is quite standard and well-established. We guide our clients every step of the way and do our best to ensure that the project runs smoothly; albeit occasionally we understand that challenges can crop up along the way – a pandemic for example!
A good place to start is the lead-time you should expect to design a new dental website. Let’s cover that first and then move on to the how content for the site is generated and the practice’s role in that.
How long does it take to build and launch a new website for a dentist?
With our design team, you should typically expect 10 – 12 weeks. To complete the job professionally, we need to allow time not just for the design, but also for information gathering, design iterations, approvals, testing and go-live. Here’s a typical sequence:
- Week 1 – raise the design documentation and issue the design questionnaire and deposit invoice
- Week 2 – following receipt of the documentation and deposit payment, the draft design begins
- Week 3 – submit the draft design for client feedback
- Week 4 – design iterations and further client feedback
- Week 5 – finalise the design and move to the full “coding” stage
- Weeks 6 – 8 – build the internal website pages and start to add content
- Weeks 9 – 10 – client feedback and iterations
- Weeks 11 – 12 – approval, testing and launch
Sometimes we are asked to take on “emergency” jobs, for example where a client has been let down by their designer and their website has gone off-line. We will certainly try to assist in cases like this, even if it means publishing a holding-page to help maintain a web presence whilst a new website is built. However, we prefer to plan appropriately and allocate time – simply because this leads to great websites! So if you can pre-empt any problems and approach us in good time, that will certainly help.
As with any project, there is some time in the schedule where design pauses whilst we wait for the client to feed back or to provide certain types of content. During these periods, the designer will move to a different project and then switch back again when the client’s feedback arrives.
We understand that dentistry can be a very busy profession and sometimes these “lull” periods can be quite protracted where the dentist is otherwise occupied. We can usually accommodate this within reason and adjust the schedule accordingly – all we ask is to be advised as soon as possible and to be kept updated please.
The role of the dental team in helping the project run smoothly
Whilst it’s certainly possible to take the project and do it all for you with minimal input from your side, it’s fair to say that most dentists want quite a lot of input into their website project in order to put their personal “stamp” on it.
Here are the main areas where the dentist or nominated teams members are likely to be involved:
- Preparation of “small print” policies and procedures which are specific to the practice
- Preparation of case studies
- Preparation and provision of website images (we can also help with this)
- Preparation of team biographies, GDC information etc (we will guide you)
- Preparation of certain text sections
- Approvals and checking
- Provision of domain name information and access (we can also help here)
- Provision of email requirements (or current arrangements)
Treatment text content
Our team of content writers is highly experienced in the dental fields and will be pleased to create treatment content for you. Alternatively, you may wish to provide your own content and we will adjust it to ensure it is search engine (SEO) friendly. Many dentists prefer to write their own content and this is absolutely fine and encouraged. However, if you don’t have time, then we can write engaging, professional content for you.
There are other areas where it makes sense that the practice has input, for example the introductory sections which defined the ethos, purpose, history etc of the practice.
It makes sense to get moving with the text content generation as soon as possible because this will really help the website project move quickly as soon as the design framework is ready.
Website visuals – photographs and video
We’ve mentioned elsewhere in our blog about the importance of high-quality website visuals and how great photographs and video can really help your site stand head-and-shoulders above the local competition.
Our visuals team will be pleased to provide outstanding material for you via a bespoke shoot at your practice – please ask for details and examples. Alternatively you may wish to provide your own visuals and use your own photographer. This is perfectly fine and we will discuss this with you during the early stages of the project.
As with preparation of the text content, it also makes sense to complete photo/video shoots as soon as possible in the overall project time-line. Whilst we can create designs using image “placeholders” it is very helpful to have the final images as soon as possible to ensure the best integration and result.
Whilst it is widely accepted that personalised images work better than “stock” content, if the budget does not allow for a bespoke shoot, we can build your website using images from our huge library. However, we do recommend your own photography and video if at all possible, as this resonates much better with website users.
Testing and Going Live
The final stages of the website development are testing and go-live. Our team will set up your hosting and email in readiness but in advance of publishing we will carry out a sequence of technical checks to ensure that all is operating as expected and that the website is optimised to ensure a good foundation in Google.
We will also ask you to check thoroughly to ensure that all the information is correct and to spot any last issues which need to be addressed before the site is launched.
When all is clear and testing is complete we begin the go-live process. Where there is an existing website, we will ensure that any downtime is minimised and that existing search positions in Google are maintained as far as is practically possible. There is actually a lot of technical work goes on in the background to make the transition as seamless as possible, but our team will handle all of this on your behalf.
Your beautiful new website is now live! In the few weeks following, we will keep an eye on performance and advise you of any adjustments that may be required. We also encourage you to do similar and let us know if any issues arise.
We also offer comprehensive ongoing maintenance and optimisation services to ensure that your website continues to look great and work hard too.
Development of a new dentist’s website is not trivial and thought has to be given to the process to ensure success. The team at Dental Media will do all of the heavy lifting for you but there are some areas where you and/or your team will need to have input to help the process.
With good communication and an understanding of the project timeline and requirements, most new projects can be completed in the 10 – 12 week schedule noted above. As with all projects, there will be some short periods where you need to be actively involved, whether that’s preparing content for the new website or perhaps completing user testing before go-live. Rest assured that it’s well worthwhile to help get the best possible result.
Are you considering a new website for your own practice? To arrange an introductory discussion, please call us on 01332 672548 and we’ll be delighted to assist.