How Often Should You Re-Design Your Dental Website?
Why stale websites lose impact quickly
If you’ve ever searched the web for dental websites you’ll know that it’s a very diverse landscape – from flashy creations which resemble the website’s of Dubai hotels, to others which are maybe 8 or 9 years old and aren’t even mobile friendly or secure. So if you’re considering updating your own practice website, or are new into the field and wondering how to budget for future updates, here’s a guide on what to consider.
Let’s begin by sharing over 20 years of experience in designing websites for dentists. This shows us that the typical re-design frequency is around 3 – 4 years, albeit we have some large clients who redesign every couple of years as standard and others who haven’t redesigned for many a year. But on average, 3 – 4 years is typical.
So what are the main reasons which would prompt a re-design of a dentist’s website? Let’s take a look at the key ones.
This essentially covers how easy it is for a user to navigate the website and interact with you. Periodically, big technical changes come along which dictate significant changes to website infrastructure i.e. a re-design. Perhaps the best example of this was the shift to “responsive” mobile friendly design several years ago which completely superseded the need for a secondary mobile website. Whilst most businesses have changed over to mobile-friendly sites, perhaps surprisingly there are still lots of dentists who are still lumbering on with old-style sites which frankly don’t really work at all on mobile. What really should be appreciated in this specific circumstance is that the large proportion of people who find a site like this on their mobile ‘phone, won’t ever bother attempting to interact with the business. It’s simply too hard for them to do so and so they quickly move elsewhere.
So where technology dictates that you need a major update for your website, then it would be foolhardy to ignore it.
Like most things, design “fads” come and go in the world of dental web design. What looks really whizzy now can become quite dated just a few years down the track, so please be aware of this and if you go for all the “bells and whistles”, then expect those to tarnish relatively quickly. There is a tendency for the younger generation to want a flashy website, however this isn’t necessarily the best idea. As I mentioned, those types of websites can tend to age prematurely and there are also usability and search engine optimisation issues to consider too. A classic style of site is often received much better by the viewing audience and will typically age better too.
So when it comes to design style, it’s recommended to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing with their websites and also how trends are progressing elsewhere. This should give you a good lead into when you should consider updating your own site. Remember that many users are quite fickle and will be attracted to something which stands out above the competition – whilst practicalities and budgets will prevent you from re-designing very frequently, having a planned renewal schedule will keep you at the head of the field when it comes to presenting your business on the web.
Technical issues and search engines (SEO)
As I’ve discussed in other recent blogs, Google continues to introduce technical initiatives which gently push website owners into upgrading and improving their websites. Indeed, we have a number of these initiatives coming to fruition in the coming months, whereby Google is looking much more closely on “core” user experience factors to help determine where websites should rank in the search results.
These types of factors, e.g. page load speed, information layout, ease of navigation etc are becoming increasingly important for Google ranking (SEO) and lots of websites simply don’t meet the grade. Indeed if you analyse some the sites dental design agencies hold up as their best examples, technically they are dire and increasingly, don’t do well in Google. Most of these sites are either built on WordPress or DIY website builders such as Squarespace which can easily be made to look pretty but take far more effort and skill to make them perform optimally.
So it makes sense to keep abreast of these types of technical updates, particularly where they affect the ranking chances of the site. If you don’t have time to do this, try to work alongside a trusted partner who will advise you, but at the same time won’t try to sell you something you don’t actually need. Occasionally big technical changes come along which really do necessitate a complete site re-build from scratch to meet latest standards and to keep your website well-placed in Google.
Your website got hacked!
This is a recurring issue for dentists unfortunately and typically occurs where a website has been built using WordPress and then not maintained. WordPress often gets hacked due to core vulnerabilities and more so, “plugins” which become defunct but are left in place by the designer. Often these types of hacks are so severe that recovering the website is not viable and so a re-build becomes the only route forward.
If your existing practice website is built using WordPress and you are not confident that it is being maintained adequately, then this is another opportunity to consider something more robust. A hack is a very worrying event, so you need to pre-empt this and ensure everything is in place to avoid it.
You found out your website is built using Squarespace or WIX
This is another worrying scenario as I’ve documented elsewhere. WIX and Squarespace are primarily targeted for DIY web builders and as such are not the best platforms technically or from an SEO perspective. Even if you are willing to accept that, perhaps worse is that your website is stuck on the Squarespace or WIX hosting platform i.e. it is not portable and you cannot shift it elsewhere if you need to i.e. your designer has tied you in.
This is rather an uncomfortable situation for a business website owner and one you would be advised to address by considering re-designing your site using a more mainstream system which allows full flexibility and optimal technical configuration.
There is no pre-defined schedule for reworking your dental practice website but by using the guidance above, you should be best placed to make an informed decision about the best time to do it. Maybe your site simply looks stale, or maybe you have concerns about the technical under-pinnings which have caused your Google position to fall away? Or maybe you’re disenchanted because your designer didn’t tell you that your site was being built in Squarespace or WIX and now you’re stuck with it?
One or several of these issues could be prompting you to a re-design. If you’re uncertain and need some experienced assistance, please call the Dental Media web team for no-obligation advice. You can reach us on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to guide you through.