How to build an effective website and a successful online image as a dentist
Are you a self-employed dentist who does not yet have an Internet website? Do you have a website, but would like to improve it? Are you planning to redesign and upgrade your website? In this blog post you will find out what you need to know to tackle this undertaking. A well-designed, professional website is an important asset for every dental practice. Your website is your virtual business card. For many patients it will be their first point of contact with you – even before they set foot in your dental office.
What should you take into consideration when building and designing your website?
We have sought the advice of a professional to help you: Urs Haase, the owner of the Haase advertising agency in Nuremberg/Germany)
First impressions count
First of all, it is important to understand that first impressions are decisive. Everything should be just right – with regard to the appearance and the content. Nothing can replace a first impression. This is extremely important on the Internet. Within seconds people decide whether or not to stay on a certain website or move on to another one. In most cases, when someone has moved on, they will never return.
Building trust with the first click
In the medical field, it is important to convey a professional and trustworthy image. Patients should be given the feeling that they are in good hands. The first impression they get of your practice and your associates is of particular importance – in the real world and in the virtual World Wide Web.
Convey the right impression from the start
Make sure that your website conveys the impression that you want your patients to obtain. They should feel welcome and not be intimidated. The website should convey your trustworthiness. If your website does not give a professional impression, you will have a problem. It will have a negative effect on your practice – and on yourself.
Excellent preparation is the solution to (almost) everything
Before I start to explain how to build an effective website, I would like you to know that creating your own website is a project. And a project needs to be planned very carefully. In most case, quick fixes are unsuccessful. As a result, before you start with your website project – irrespective of if it is for a new website or “only” for rejuvenating an old one – I recommend clarifying the following questions:
- What is the message you would like to convey?
- What is particularly important to you?
→ Please see our checklist for tips to help you in the planning your website.
Once you have answered these questions, you are ready to put them into action. You will also find the need to clarify another matter:
Should I do the job myself or hire a professional?
As is the case in many other situations, you have two choices: You can either do the job yourself or turn to a specialist.
If you are confident of your proficiency in the field of website design, you will have to decide on whether to work with a Content Management System (CMS) or not. A CMS is a computer application that organizes your text copy and images.
If you decide to work with a CMS, you will have to establish the look and feel of your website. You can customize this with the help of “themes”, which are widely available on the Internet. Themes are templates or basic digital structures that define and control the design of your future website. You will use the text and the images that you previously entered in your CMS to populate the website.
The burden of choice: How to make the right decision
a) DIY website design: cheaper, but with some restrictions and very time consuming
There are numerous Content Management Systems on the market, which provide you with the basic structure for establishing your Web presence – for example, Jamboo, TYPO3, Joomla, Jimdo or WordPress. These programs also allow you to administer your website content. You will define the look and feel of your website in a second step by implementing a special “theme”. Many different types of “themes” are readily available. These systems are designed for a mass market because they are easy to use and extremely affordable. Nevertheless, they often have limitations. As a result, they cannot fulfil all your requirements and you will have to live with compromises.
Despite a number of drawbacks, these systems are becoming more professional. Many small and medium-size businesses are using them.
b) Professionally designed website: more costly, but more flexible and efficient
Alternatively, you may want to consult a specialist to design and build your website. They are capable of fulfilling all your requirements. Furthermore, professional programmers will be able to customize your website to all your needs. In addition, you are less involved in the process and therefore have time to devote to other matters. The main disadvantage of this approach is the higher costs.
→ Please see our check list about the most important advantages and disadvantages of creating a DIY website. There, you will find my general recommendations and a special tip for selecting the most appropriate theme.
Always visible on the Worldwide Web
When your website is online and everything is working as planned, you have achieved a significant step. But you cannot rest at this stage. Now is the time to make your website visible on the Internet. Make sure that it can be found easily. You can do this with money or without. The best approach is a combination of both.
→ Read the check list for more information of what you can do.
Make use of interactivity
As you will know from other areas, reviews and comments are often decisive in the decision-making process of customers. Today, almost everything is evaluated: medical professionals and their practices are no exception. Special review sites allow people to rate goods and services. Positive reviews can mean good advertising for you, while negative ones may pose a problem.
→ Tip: It is advisable not to ask for reviews on your own website. Requesting reviews could backfire on you very easily. Instead, collect positive responses from the most popular review sites and post them on your website. Quote what your patients have said about you. Nevertheless, make sure that the citations are not exaggerated or contrived: They should sound authentic and sincere. Whatever you do, don’t even think about posting fake comments. It will make your site look unbelievable and visitors will regard it as phony, which could easily damage your reputation.
→ The check list contains additional tips for your website.