A dentist’s website can make a lasting impression on consumers, potential associates, and other new hires because it is often the first encounter they have with the practice. Your website, the content found within, and the maintenance of that digital presence is a reflection of the practice itself. Dental candidates searching for an opportunity to advance their career are looking for the best opportunity to grow professionally. A website that communicates professionalism will give potential associates confidence in the career benefits your dental office can provide. There are many components of a website that, when done well, can ensure a smooth user experience. Below are five considerations for refining your web presence to ensure your website sustains the same professionalism that you convey in the office every day.
First and foremost, are you monitoring your website analytics? Without data, any revision, update or redesign you make to your website is simply a guess. Google Analytics is the most popular tool, and the platform is fairly user friendly. Ask your webmaster to install the necessary code, or do it yourself if you are able. Monitor monthly trends related to your website. High-level data, such as visitors, bounce rates and site duration, can tell you a lot about the user experience on your website. As you gain more experience, you can begin to dig deeper into user flow and begin establishing goals to track conversions.
2) Mobile User Experience
Websites must be mobile friendly – there’s just no getting around that. The Pew Research Center reports that 95 percent of all U.S. adults own a cellphone, and studies show that in the last couple of years mobile internet usage has officially surpassed desktop. Google not only rewards you in search rankings for a website that offers an improved mobile user experience, but also punishes your website if it does not meet certain criteria for mobile devices. You can test the mobile-friendly aspects of your website here to determine what Google thinks about your platform. Many of the candidates you are trying to attract for associate positions have grown up with smartphones. Mobile usage in ages 18-34 far exceeds older demographic groups, proving that a mobile-friendly website is vital for engaging that demographic.
Because of the focus on mobile-friendly design, the loading speed of your website is now extremely important. The website must function properly and efficiently on mobile networks for mobile users who are not connected to Wi-Fi. Not surprisingly, Google has a tool for speed testing your website as well. The search platform is understandably concerned about user experience of the websites it displays in search results. You can test your website speed by clicking here.
4) User-Friendly Layout
Website usability varies from design to design, but there are some best practice layout scenarios that will help you enhance your visitor’s experience. Placing your logo in the header of your website (typically on the left side) and hyperlinking that throughout the site to the homepage will help users return to the homepage no matter how deep they have dug into your site. Establishing a clean header with simple navigation is very important. Try sketching out a user flow chart on a piece of paper to determine what menus and sub-menus are necessary. You’ll find that this old-school approach to mapping a new platform will help you visualize user experience and simplify menu choices.
5) Value Proposition – Call to Action
Focus on a bold, above-the-fold value proposition that immediately tells visitors what your practice is all about. “Above the fold” means before the scroll. You want your value proposition to be the first item visitors see. The message can be a simplified version of your mission statement or tie in strongly with a current advertising campaign. Additionally, there should always be a call to action to encourage user engagement. For patients, that could be a “Schedule an Appointment” or “Contract Our Office” button.
6) Positive Reviews
Maintaining positive reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List and other popular online platforms is as important to attracting top tier candidates as it is to landing more patients. Your practice should be taking a strategic, proactive approach to online reputation management. First, review your current standings on all relevant platforms. Look for outliers. Is there a platform that has been taken over by a negative commenter? If you see a spike in negativity, dig deeper and consider your next steps. In some cases, not responding at all is your best option. Particularly if the review is extremely combative. You do not want to be drawn into an online, back-and-forth argument with your reviewer. If a response is warranted, be sure to keep it simple and honest. Be sure your post does not reveal the identify of the patient. Try to drive the conversation offline by inviting the commenter to contact your office so that you can learn more. As you research your negative reviews, be sure to look for rule-based removal opportunities. Hate speech, conflicts of interest, and other cases that may violate forum rules will allow you to request the review be removed. Finally, take a proactive approach by engaging patients to leave you more reviews. Ultimately, the best strategy for combatting bad reviews is to encourage more good reviews.
This may be the most important strategy, as well as the most accessible. You don’t need to understand how a website works or become an amateur coder to enhance your website’s professionalism. Presenting professionalism simply takes a keen eye and the willingness to put in the time. You want your online business persona to present the same professional picture as your office, both for patient recruitment and to attract the most talented associates. Carefully proofread your entire site. Grammatical errors imply a lack of focus and effort. If you are not confident in your knowledge of AP Style or don’t know what a serial comma is, there are professional proofreading services available that you should consider. Consider your visuals. If the photos on your site were taken with a smartphone or are out of date, these may be red flags regarding the practice’s marketing and communication focus. Professional photography is recommended for putting your best foot forward. Finally, research modern website design trends and best practices. These are always evolving, and a website that keeps up with these trends is an indication of a practice that is conscious of its online persona and, therefore, future success.