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4 Tips for Building an Effective Website from Scratch

Think of your dental practice’s website as every potential patient’s first impression of who you are and what you do. With that in mind, you want your website to provide concise, clear information in a way that is visually appealing. Here are some important considerations for achieving that goal.
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
PUBLISHED: Tuesday, February 7, 2017


For most prospective patients, your website is the first glimpse into your practice. Beyond introducing you, your staff, and your facility, your website also functions as a marketing tool, encouraging people to learn more and ultimately make an appointment.
 
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You’ve heard the saying, “first impressions are everything,” and it’s important to keep this in mind when you think about designing your website. If you’re not going to hire a web designer to build your site, you can create a website for your practice using one of the many tools available online. Fortunately, it isn’t too hard to build a simple, effective website if you’re doing it yourself, but there are several things you must include to be sure your site is as impressive as possible.
 
1. Who you are and what you do.
 
This might seem like a no-brainer, but think about it. How many times have you stumbled across a website and, try as you might, you have no clue what the company actually does? Unfortunately, this is still somewhat common, even today.
 
Your website home page should feature your name and practice name front and center. Don’t leave anyone guessing that you’re a dentist. You want them to know it the second they see your home page. If you offer specialty dental services, be sure to include this information. You want your home page to contain a brief, focused message including details about you, your professional capabilities, and the easiest ways to contact you. There’s room to share more information on the other pages of your site.
 
2. Make navigation simple.
 
After you’ve created your home page, it’s time to expand and offer more detail on the other pages of your website. You want to make it easy for people to find the information they’re looking for. Try to follow the “three click rule” – a person should be able to find the information they need within three clicks.
 
Keep your navigation menu consistent across all pages of your website. You might find it helpful to create a toolbar that appears across the top of each page, listing all the pages that a visitor can jump to in a single click. You can also link to specific pages of your website by creating hyperlinks to other pages within the body of your website text. However you choose to allow visitors to move around your site is up to you, but it should be as easy as possible.
 
3. Keep it structured.
 
There are a lot of options when it comes to building your site from scratch, but try to keep it as structured and uncomplicated as possible. You want your site to be aesthetically pleasing while showcasing your practice. Think back to some poorly constructed websites you’ve seen. Did they have text boxes that didn’t line up properly? Were there pictures or gifs all over the place? Did the colors they used grab your attention, but only because they gave you a headache? These are all important considerations when you’re nailing down the details of your site.
 
Regarding text, fonts like Arial and Veranda are generally easier to read online. Try to keep the size of your text around 14 or 16px, and don’t use more than three different typefaces on a page. This helps to keep your site design simple and streamlined.
 
When choosing colors, many healthcare professionals stick with a more neutral, open color scheme instead of bright, bold colors. You want to keep your prospective patient’s emotions in mind when choosing a color scheme – if you’re trying to portray a relaxing, soothing office environment, don’t choose “loud” colors like red or orange. Also, don’t overdo it by picking 10 different colors. The colors you choose should blend well together, and there’s no harm in using plenty of white space as filler to give your site a cleaner, more modern look.
 
4. Create content with your busy audience in mind.
 
You have to say something on your website, but keep in mind people expect to be able to scan a page quickly to get the information they need. Your prospects probably aren’t going to spend 20 minutes reading walls of text on your site. Instead, you should make it easy to scan your pages by using paragraph breaks, subheadings, bullet points, or images to break up large text blocks. Breaking up content makes it easier for an online audience to read, which can lead people to take action by calling you.
 
Keep your message short, simple, and relevant. If you’re not confident in your writing skills, hire a professional copywriter who can create content that will grab your reader’s attention. No one wants to read a huge wall of text where the author rambles, uses bad grammar, or doesn’t say anything the reader is interested in. If you want people to keep reading, you have to keep the message engaging. Words matter, and so does the order you put them in.

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