Professional Courtesy: Dental Websites—At First Glance by Dr. Thomas Giacobbi

Professional Courtesy: Dental Websites—At First Glance 

Does your practice website include everything patients are looking for? It might be time for a refresh


by Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, editorial director, Dentaltown magazine


Walking through the front door of your practice for the first time is your patients’ second impression of your practice. Their first impression was your practice website.

Yes, some patients may have gone from phone call to your front door without a stop on your website, but I’d bet many more may have visited your website and never called your practice. I’ve visited hundreds of dental office websites over the years looking for a specialist when I have a patient out of town with an emergency, trying to help a patient find a new dentist when they move out of town, and reviewing résumés of job applicants.

When was the last time you visited the first impression of your practice? I’ve compiled a list of best practices that I have experienced, and you can use this as a checklist to audit your practice website.

  • Your practice has a website. We must start here because many dentists and practices show up in search results with only a Healthgrades listing or a Facebook page. It’s great to have a practice presence on Facebook, but it’s not a good substitute for a website.
  • Phone number is prominently displayed at the top of the page.
  • Photos of the team. There should be pictures of the team that include first name, office role and a short bio. At the very least, there should be a bio for the doctors that includes where they went to school, hometown and some fun facts. When I see a practice website that has photos of the doctors only and not team members, I think high staff turnover. You’ll be surprised at how often new patients mention something they read in your bio.
  • Request an appointment or contact the office. There needs to be an option for your audience to contact the practice after hours, when they’re most likely looking at your site. This can be a simple form that comes back to the practice as an email or a live chat box. The future is scheduling appointments directly from your site and many vendors can make this happen, but this feature has not been widely adopted yet because many variables are difficult to control when you give direct access to blocks of your schedule.
  • FAQ and/or blog posts. Let’s face it, there’s a list of common questions that your experienced front office team members could rattle off from memory. These questions should be answered on your website. Blog posts provide an additional opportunity to provide patient education in a short format that allows patients to see your expertise firsthand.
  • Map of office location. This is something you will find on just about any business website and it is insurance that patients can find your office for the first time without frustration. Also, they may be looking at your site on a smartphone and need directions at that moment.
  • Screen-friendly site. Speaking of smartphones, your website design should easily morph between the computer form factors of today: desktop, tablet and phone. In the old days, this required two versions of your website, but today’s website templates are designed to adjust on the fly.
  • Photos of the inside and outside of your office. Make it easy for patients to find you the first time and give them a preview of your office aesthetic. Don’t want to post photos of your practice? Maybe it’s time for a refresh.
  • Access to new-patient forms. This should already be part of every website, because it’s a big time-saver and in the time of COVID keeps the waiting room from being filled with people holding clipboards. Many practice management software systems allow direct integration of the completed forms. If that sounds too complicated, post PDFs of your paper forms and let patients print them from home. It’s also a good idea to share PDFs of postoperative instructions, employment applications and a records request form.
  • Connect to your social media. If this is part of your practice marketing, you can connect these services to your webpage.

Getting your website redesigned or starting from scratch can be accomplished by one of many dental-specific companies or the services of a local designer if you have a clear vision for your site. Updating my practice website was one of my many “COVID projects” and I found a local designer who could do the entire project remotely. We had a couple of phone calls and exchanged email throughout the project.

I hope you are inspired to make improvements to your practice website or starting from scratch on the most critical ingredient for a great first impression.

Connect with me via email: tom@dentaltown.com, or comment on this article below.

 

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