Many practice managers dwell over whether their businesses should have a website. In my opinion even dental practices, which invariably do not sell products online, must have a professionally designed website. But how many dentists actually consider the importance of technology outside their practice?
The internet offers a wealth of instant and up-to-date information. Dental practices can use this mass medium and reap instant benefits from an online business presence. A web site can be used to promote your practice and even screen patients.
Before jumping on the band wagon however, a number of issues must be considered so that your new website fulfils your expectations.
Here are my top tips to create an effective and professional online presence.
1. Stick to your budget
Website prices and design costs vary considerably and are based upon the amount of content and graphics required. Calculate your budget and stick to it. Basic websites offering limited interactive functions start from about £400. More bespoke website design services start from £2,000.
2. A memorable domain name
Most one or two word domain names have already been sold, but try and find one that is short, memorable and easy to spell. Ensure that whoever hosts your website offers excellent 24-hour telephone support and remember to renew your domain name every year.
3. Attractive website content
Discuss with your website designer the overall image you want for your business. Buying graphics from stock is a cheaper and perfectly acceptable option, but there is always the chance that the same images are being used on another website. Professional photography will guarantee exclusive rights to images that you decide to use.
Take professional advice over the level of content of your website, particularly with graphics: too much information will make it harder and slower for visitors to find the information they are seeking.
Choose a site design that is easy to navigate and ensure you have considered your content and layout thoroughly in order that everything you want is included. Whilst every dental practice’s website will differ in content, the following should always be included:
• Practice contact details
• Map with directions
• Treatments offered
• Details of practice
• Patient testimonials.
4. A clear message
One of the most important factors you must consider when designing a website is continuity. Decide on an image you want to project and stick to it. You may already have a practice logo, literature and stationary.
At every point of contact with clients, including your new website, ensure that you maintain this image. A well-designed and easy to navigate website will encourage and attract high-end patients and will prove to be well worth the effort.
5. Finding your website
Finally, let your clients know about your new website once it is up and running. Ensure that the website address is printed on all of your practice stationary and literature, andmake sure you promote the site in free local directories and search engines.
As a full member of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) you can list your practice on their official website, which can be viewed by anyone who visits the BACD site (www.bacd.com).