Building a good medical or dental website goes far beyond blindly filling in the blanks on a website template. It takes a lot of thought, skill, time and effort to build an outstanding website. Below are a few of the ingredients in a successful website:
Patients use both desktop computers and mobile devices to view your website, so your design and content have to be able to adapt to any screen size automatically. All of your website’s components should be easy to use and work seamlessly, regardless of which device the patient is using. Is your website mobile friendly? Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Tool to find out.
Quick Loading Time
Some sites take forever to load. This can be caused by severe technical problems with the website or issues with hosting. A good website needs to load fast. This can be achieved with high-quality hosting. For WordPress websites, I recommend WP Engine because they offer the best website speed. Siteground hosting may be another decent option.
Also, your website should have clean code. One of the downsides of various drag/drop website builders or websites that use generic stock templates is that they suffer from layers and layers of convoluted, bloated code, which severely reduces performance and has other negative effects. For your website to have clean code, it should be programmed by a professional web designer who knows how to write clean code, and it should be custom-designed specifically for your needs, so it includes only the features you need and nothing extra.
Is your design pleasing to the eye? A professionally-designed page is well-organized to eliminate visual clutter. It has proper color combinations, well-chosen fonts (typography), relevant images and simple navigation that make your website appear professional and easy to read. A professional, well-structured website shows that you respect your readers and care about their experience on your site.
You need to convince people quickly that you are a good fit for them. This is best accomplished with a custom-designed website that optimally represents your particular content. A custom site has everything nicely arranged for a smooth flow of information. Content is concise, and all page components work together for a harmonious, pleasant to read and easily understandable webpage.
Your website should reflect the type of experience patients will encounter at your office. Does your site use the proper imagery to convey a comfortable, soothing mood to the viewer? Ideally, your website should have few or no generic stock photos but rather custom photos of your office, patients, staff and local area. Custom photos add authenticity and are much more effective at communicating your message to patients.
Proper Content Balance
Graphics should support text content, not replace it. Many medical or dental websites feature large stock images that occupy most of the space with very little text. Such an information-starved website does nothing for your readers, and it doesn’t convince them to contact your office. You need a healthy balance between content and imagery.
Proper Content Organization
Is information on your website properly organized so people can intuitively understand your site’s layout and quickly find what they need? Do visitors know where to click to locate specific information? This can be assured with well-planned website layout and navigation.
Original, Comprehensive Content
Is your content high quality, written in simple language for the average American reader? Your content should be easy to read and understand and be comprehensive enough to convey everything the patient needs to know about each procedure. Many dentists have a one-pager website with a simple laundry list of procedures, but it’s much better for SEO and more helpful for your patients to have a separate page describing each procedure.
Your content should also be written uniquely for your practice rather than copied/pasted from other websites. You can check for duplicate content using CopyScape.
Before designing the site, you should perform a thorough analysis of your market and competition, so you know how to plan your website design, layout, images, and content in a way that will help you appeal to your target patients and differentiate yourself from other doctors in your area.
Ideally, a medical or dental website should contain content that helps your patients understand why you are the best dentist for them. You should highlight your office and your work using features such as before/after photos, an office gallery and a widget displaying your reviews. Some offices, especially new ones, may not have this content yet, but its creation should be one of your priorities.
Your website needs to have a proper SEO (search engine optimization) setup which includes appropriate page titles and meta descriptions, schema, and content optimized with keywords for your location and services. Google Webmaster Guidelines are helpful to learn the best practices your website should follow to ensure proper search positioning with Google.
Calls to Action
Does your website have strategically positioned call to actions, snippets of text or buttons compelling readers to contact your office and make an appointment? You should not have too many calls to actions as this may annoy readers, but placing one at the top and the bottom of the page is an effective way to remind readers to contact you.
Prominent Contact Information
Along with calls to action, you should have your phone number and address displayed prominently on every page, so people can contact you easily without having to search for your contact information.
You should include anything that will highlight your value and skills: written and video testimonials, before/after photos, your value proposition (a “What Makes Us Different” page), a page describing your technology, and anything else that makes you unique and valuable.
Easy to Edit
Can you easily edit your website? Some dentists have HTML-only websites, which are very difficult or impossible to edit. Instead, I recommend building your website on a content management platform such as WordPress. WordPress is the most popular website building platform and allows you and your staff to edit your site content at any time easily.
Last but not least, is your website easy to use and fully functional? What good is a website if your readers can’t use it? You need to make sure there are no broken links and that all widgets and other features work as intended.
These are just some of the elements that make a good website, but there are many more. Also, while a solid website is the first necessary step to good SEO, sometimes you also need to optimize your other online properties to rank highly in Google. Such off-site SEO includes getting quality links from other websites to yours, promoting your website and content online and offline, and making sure that your online listings have consistent practice name and contact information.