Dentistry and the Internet. The two do not seem very much in common, but if you don’t know why they should be - Read On!
If you run a dental practice, you probably know that just working on your patients teeth isn't all there is to it. It is a business to run just like any other, the management, the inventory, and the sales & marketing are all day to day things that have to be handled.
So what can you gain from having a web site?
A web site can be a huge boost to any practice. In October 2005, it was estimated that there are 224 million internet users in North America alone (2005, Internet World Stats). No other media can reach out to so many people at any given time. Large metro areas are literally saturated with internet goers and even the percentage of the population in rural areas is increasing rapidly. What does that mean to you? Persistent Advertising - A web site is a huge piece of marketing material that is displayed 24/7 and available to anyone with a computer and internet connection. Why spend thousands of dollars on flyers or mass mailings that are sent at random instead of to those that are looking for it? A well designed and marketed web site will point business right to your door! Your Practice Online - This is really the face of your practice online. You don’t have to be rich and famous to present yourself well. It is also a place where you can share your knowledge, send tips to your patients, and promote contests, events, or happenings at the office. Technology Factor - Having an online presence lets you show your patients that you are a high-tech office, even if you have been in business 30 years! Online communication is quickly becoming the most widely used method of sharing and sending information, let a web site assist you! Business Asset - Having a well established web site can be a very big asset to your practice. A well designed, maintained and up to date website can be a huge source of revenue as it sends new patients through your door. Looking to sell or expand your practice? A good web site can benefit you there as well. Information Center - Many times when patients call, their questions could have been answered by a quick look online. This saves staff time and saves your patients trying to find time to call you or in having to wait till you are open the next day. Most people will jump online for a minute to find an answer instead of digging through a phone book.
So now you need a web site (or a better one). . . What do you do now?
Dental web sites can be created by anyone with a computer and there are lots of companies out there who will set you up with a website for just a few dollars a month, but going this route won't get you the online presence you want and need. Here are some tips on what will get you a really good dental web site:
Have the web site designed around you. Make it your vision that you want to share with current and future patients. Colors, style and content can be designed to fit what you like and want to display. Look online for web site styles and layouts that you like, not just from other dentists but stores, large corporations, or any other companies you like to browse.
Find a web site design company that specializes in the dental industry. For example, and one of my favorites, is Sesame Web Design which has been in business for many years and has created hundreds of beautiful custom web sites for the dental industry. Not only do they have premier design talents, but also provide powerful online communications solutions to power your web site even further. Take a look at Sesame Web Design and view their dental web site design gallery (www.sesamewebdesign.com).
Content can be one of the hardest pieces to develop for a web site. Having someone who knows your field and has content that you can customize to your specific needs not only speeds up the development process but enriches your website greatly.
Be careful what you are getting before you purchase a web site! There are different types of websites that companies will try to sell you: Auto-generated web sites - or template sites. These are a cut-and-paste your information on a pre-built layout web site. Template sites are a cheap and fast way to get a website. . . but you end up looking just like 100 other doctors and will not stand out. Full Flash Websites - If you don’t know what Flash is, it is a fully animated page with movement and interaction. It can look very flashy (pun!) but it has several down sides. A lot of times full flash websites are based on a template and you run into the same issues as the auto-generated web sites. Another down side is a custom full flash website can take quite a while to develop and cost a huge amount of money. Following the design you can also run into problems trying to update the site or add to it. Once it is developed it can be hard to maintain and change the information. Custom Dental Web Site Design - Overall the best web site you can get is a custom dental web site design. You can still add some animation or flash as desired to spice it up, as much you like, but having that be a part of the content and not the entire site itself greatly enhances the resilience and expandability in the long run. A custom web site allows you to change, add, or update your content at any time with minimal work. Most of the time changes are either text updates, such as an events calendar or new staff members, or adding some images to your homepage, both of which can be accomplished quickly and easily. Custom websites generally rank highest on search engines like Google as well, because of the custom content and text on each page.
Remember your web site should reflect you. Make it smile the same way you want your patients to smile at the end of the day! Hopefully this article has helped answer some of your basic questions. Make some time to call a dental web site company and get more details or to answer any further in depth questions you may have. It may seem like a big project, but will turn out to be well worth it in the end!
Steve Terjeson -
Web Designer/SEO Copyrighter
Dental Web Site Designs by Sesame Design
Online Communication Solutions
Internet World Stats