You’re probably aware that most potential new patients will visit your website as their first port of call when searching for a dentist. However, you might not be aware that you only have a matter of seconds to impress them and stop them leaving your site – 55% of people spend fewer than 15 seconds on a page. So, how do you make an immediate impact? Our UX Designer, Richard Hatton, shares his advice on the key things you should have on your homepage…
1.Clear header area message
Your header message needs to be in the language of the patient and convey why they should attend your practice and not a competitor’s. If potential patients don’t understand this message, they’re unlikely to stick around to read the rest of the page.
Usually this area is made up of
A short, clear, simple message that conveys in about three seconds what you do and what makes you stand out from other practices. This should grab their attention. Don’t waste time with ‘welcome to our website’ text, that’s a given when visiting sites.
One or two short sentences on what you offer and why it would help the patient. This could be replaced with three to four bullet points of key features, or a mix of the two.
Images convey information quicker than text so add a well-shot image or graphic that reinforces your message.
It’s important not to try and target everyone but to focus on your core audience – which is more than likely to be new patients. So, think about what it is that you would like this group of users to know instantly, what makes you unique…it could be your customer service, experience or how you make your patients feel. That’s the message you should be hitting them with straight away.
2. Clean navigation
You need to make it as easy as possible for people to move around your site and find the information they’re looking for. This is vital; if users don’t quickly understand where to find out what they want to know, the chances are that they will simply leave.
Your navigation menu should be visible at the top of the page and the links to other pages organised in a hierarchical structure. Keep the number of links in the main navigation to a minimum and consider using the principle of ‘Seven, Plus or Minus Two’ which shows that we can only store around seven things at any one time within our short-term memory.
3. Benefits to the patient
Potential patients want to know how they will benefit from attending your practice. So you should avoid jargon and speak the language of your patients. For example, rather than telling them you have invested in a Cerec machine, talk about how quick and convenient it is for them to have a crown made in one visit.
If you’re not sure what benefits to highlight on your homepage, think of the questions you are most commonly asked and provide the answers. Focus less on the ‘what’ of the services you provide, e.g. teeth whitening and implants, and more on the ‘why’ e.g. making patients feel more confident, creating brighter smiles.
4. Scan-friendly text
If most people spend fewer than 15 seconds on a page, this means they are not really reading your website – they’re scanning it. To maintain their attention and make your text easy to consume, keep it short and concise.
You can also format the text to make it easier for them to scan by highlighting key words, using bulleted lists, using hyperlinks (which will also drive SEO), and avoiding long paragraphs and justifying to the centre. Be ruthless with your editing. Stick to your core message and cut your content as much as you can, it’s recommended halving and then halving again the word count that you would use in conventional writing.
5. Real photography
Using stock images is easy, cheap and can be attractive, which is why it’s more than likely that images on your website will also be on many other practices’. But dentistry is a relationship business, and that requires trust. Having photos of your real team will better convey your practice’s personality, help to build trust through transparency and make your site stand out.
However, it is important that you use quality photos. Poor real images could do more harm than stock pictures, so make sure the person taking the photos has some skills behind the camera or use a professional. This is an investment but it is worthwhile as research has shown that websites with real photos were 35% more likely to convert users into customers compared to those using stock imagery.
6. Build trust
We are more likely to choose a particular option or path if we have evidence that others have done so and been successful. Using social proof is a way of demonstrating this and also helps to build trust and authority.
Examples of social proof include testimonials and case studies, awards, ratings from patients via Facebook/Google+, and statistics such as the number of patients you have or how many have undergone a specific treatment.
7. Call to action
Ultimately you want visitors to your site to engage with you and take some kind of action – whether that’s calling the practice or making an appointment. To make it easy and compelling for them to heed your call, keep it brief – a maximum of five words, e.g. ‘book an appointment’, ‘call us’. Also, make the font or button visually striking by using a contrasting colour to your homepage.
Don’t have more than two ‘call to actions’ on your homepage, otherwise it gets confusing – and make sure one of them is at the top of your page with your headline.
Of course there are other elements you can include, such as video, a map, and blog posts, to make your homepage really effective. But using the seven listed above gives you the best opportunity to grab people’s attention and hold it long enough to convince them that you’re the practice for them.