Articles, Dentistry

Developing a website

Why is your website important?

An old website is like decaying teeth – a lot of people will struggle to look past it. Many existing patients and most new patients will visit your website and judge your practice accordingly. Patients will associate a modern, functional and attractive website with a clean, professional and reliable dental surgery.

Do you need a new website?

To work out if your website needs a refresh then simply Google other dental practices in your area and rank how your site compares to others in terms of look, functionality and user friendliness. Don’t forget to test your website on tablets and mobiles too.

So you need a new website, how much is it going to cost?

The cost will depend on what you want the website to be able to do and who you employ. Website companies will typically cost more than freelancers. There is often, though not always, good reason for this. Companies are likely to have a greater range of skills, be able to manage problems more efficiently and be more likely to support your website as time goes on. This is particularly important as technology continues to advance really quickly and you want your website to support the latest tablets and mobiles.

There are so many companies out there – where should you start?

Using a design company with experience in the dental sector has real advantages. The design company will know the industry standards and have experience of customers’ expectations. Have a conversation with the designer to see if you feel they understand your needs, ask for references and look at previous work.

Ensure you are speaking directly with the designer and not a sales or project manager as it is particularly important the designer understands your business. Having seen a portfolio, reviewed references and spoken to the designer, if you feel comfortable then you’ve achieved a good point to start from.

What should you include in your scope? 

A website is made up of four elements:

  • Branding – If you have a logo and design you are already happy with then the current website needs to reflect this. If not, your scope needs to include a branding review
  • Functionality – This will probably be the greatest determinant on cost. At the cheapest end of the scale websites can simply be a brochure built from a stock platform. More sophisticated sites will provide a content management system enabling you to edit text yourself, an online shop enabling customers to book or buy things through your website and bespoke mobile sites that ensure the website is user friendly even if looked at on a phone
  • Structural design – Structural design is the difference between a website that looks nice and one that helps sell your practice. A good website will help users find the information they are looking for and drive them to the pages the business wants
  • Copy – The language on your website needs to be confident, simple and perfect. Poorly written text will make patients question whether you will be equally sloppy with their teeth.

How do I choose between the different suppliers?

If you lack technical knowledge, then ask intelligent questions and trust your instinct. Ask for feedback and questions about the scope. Take a look at other websites companies have built and if you want further reassurance, ask the designer if you can speak with them. Request the standard process the company has for working with clients. Ask how the project will be managed, what size the team is and where your input will be needed. Question how many other projects it has running currently and ensure that it has real offices that can be visited, avoiding the risk that you employ a bedroom designer who disappears with your money.

Above all don’t use developers who can’t explain things clearly, avoid your questions or hide behind technical language you can’t understand. A good developer will work with you and explain things clearly.

Shaz Memon is creative director of Digimax a web, graphic design and print agency. Regarded as one of the most creative designers in the industry today, Shaz works with leading names such as BBC, Barclays, HP, Hiscox, James Caan and House of Fraser and has won awards for his work in the dentistry sector.

For more information visit www.digimax.co.uk, call 020 7060 2345 or email shaz@digimax.co.uk.

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