Does your website need a makeover?

I look at about 20 different websites every day. Some of them have been passed to me with a note saying that this

website changes the whole concept of site design – others are fad sites that contain some animation of an American

political figure being put in a blender.

But what is it about these 20-a-day sites that keep me there and – more importantly – keep me coming back?

Websites have always been about content and access to enough of it. But sometimes there is only so much you can say about tooth whitening or orthodontic treatment.How else can you get the message to your potential customers that your service is the best they’ll ever use and at a price that offers incredible value for money? One answer is to provide them with a website that looks professional, is easy to use and leads them through to contact you, or even better, to a sale direct from the site.

Web development is a subjective process, so we’re not trying to establish what’s right or wrong. However, in my experience, there are things you should do – and probably should avoid – when it comes to presenting the right image on the web.

Statistics

Instant web statistics can help you produce your next online campaign. Graphical page counters, animated images, text scrolling and page transitions are all great the first time you see them, but are clichés and really don’t impress anyone. For example, displaying a page counter if you have loads of visitors comes off as supercilious. On the other hand, if your site isn’t doing well, why would you want anyone to know?

Install website statistics to find out how popular your

website is. Information like this is crucial to building a better site: where are people coming from, what pages are they visiting most, and when do they visit, can help produce your next online campaign? Make sure the company who hosts your website provide you with this standard

information.

Flash animations look good, but does your site need one?

Remember, not everyone has Flash installed – some don’t even want to install it. If your website only tells the user about those fantastic tooth whitening and orthodontic treatments in this way, you can be assured they’ll know

nothing about you or your business.

The same applies to Java applets or any web-object that needs a third party plug-in to be installed in order for it to be viewed. If you do use these added extras, make sure they complement the site, rather than take over it.

Navigation

A quick word about navigation; make sure that your menu bar gives the visitor access to the information they need. You know your customers better than anyone else – what do they usually ask the first time they meet you, and is that information readily available to them the first time they visit your site? A search facility is a great way to give the visitor what they need.

Everything about your website says something about your company, so keep your site consistent with imagery and branding. If the message is mixed or confused, you can assume that this is how your visitors will feel about your practice. Simply decide on a colour and font scheme and stick with it. Even better, use a design agency who knows about branding and design.

Iain Scott will be speaking along with Chris Barrow and James Goolnik at Marketing essentials for a more profitable practice on Friday 12 September 2008 at the Royal College of Physicians, London. Please call Independent Seminars on 0800 371652 or visit www.independentseminars.com for further information and to book your places.

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