These critical components will make your website one powerful marketing tool. While most optical offices have their own websites, many sites are ineffective. Your website is the window through which current and potential patients learn about you and your products and services, so it’s important to make a good first impression.
Form and Function
Is your website usable and easy to navigate? Is it easy for new visitors to find what they need? The answer to both of these questions should be a resounding, “Yes!” If it’s not, here are a few must-haves you should consider:
• Clear links: Visitors should be able to find information about products and services without any confusion.
• Working links: Any dead links should be removed or updated. Check back often to ensure you’re not sending patients on a stroll down the road to nowhere.
• Easy navigation: The sections (as well as subsections) should be clearly labeled.
• A working, user-friendly search function: If users can’t find what they’re looking for from the get-go, it’s essential that they have a way to search within your site.
• Intuitive design: Users should know what to do without even thinking about it. For example, menus across the top of the page or along the left margin will allow for easy, immediate navigation. The best content in the world won’t help if the design is faulty.
• Fast loading time: Your site should load in fewer than three seconds.
• Pleasing colors and fonts: Colors that are too bright and fonts that are too fancy detract from a reader’s ability to understand your content. The colors blue and red used by
Ohio Eye Care Consultants
(ohioeyecareconsultants.com) are bright and pop out on the screen while the subtle tone of gray calms the page (see image, upper right). All of the typefaces used are supported by all modern browsers.
• Mobile friendliness: As more people access the web on handheld devices, mobile friendliness is critical. For users on mobile devices that don’t support video, the website should swap out the video for a background image and text. A practice currently following this approach is Ohio Eye Care Consultants. Wagner Opticians (wagneropticians.biz) is another practice that proves to be on the ball when it comes to mobile friendliness. The site’s structure adjusts to fit the size of the user’s screen; on a smartphone (at left) or tablet, the site adapts while remaining legible.
Web users are notoriously impatient. Your site needs to be easy to use, easy to read, mobile responsive and quick to load.
Once you have the basics in place, it’s time to take stock of your site’s content. If you’re familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), you know that most websites include keywords, links and more to optimize their pages so that they’ll rank high on Google’s search results list. To choose the right keywords, think of them as questions. For example, when users search “Where to buy eyeglasses in Syracuse,” they are looking for optical services located in Syracuse. That means that if you want those users to find your site, you have to make sure that your website includes the keywords customers are most likely to search.
Another key component of content is its freshness. You don’t want visitors to come once, poke around and never return. You want to turn casual visitors into new-and returning-patients. The best way to do that is to add new content…regularly. A blog is a good way to keep your website fresh, but you can also share information from other sources, add new products, or update your “About Us” page.
While it’s important for ECPs to feature fresh content on their websites, it’s equally important for this content to be relevant. Everything on your site should be related to your practice, and you should only include those things that your patients and potential patients need to know such as your office hours, policies and contact info; the products and services you offer; and eyecare and eyewear topics in general.
Get the Facts
The content’s accuracy-and its presentation-must be on point. A website that’s poorly written or includes outdated or inaccurate information is not going to get return visits. Here are some things to check:
• Are all the products listed on your site described accurately?
• Are there any products on your site that you no longer sell?
• Are the prices accurate?
• Do you offer new services or products that are not on your site?
• Have you proofread your content to make sure it’s grammatically correct and free of errors?
If writing and editing are not your strong suits, hire a professional editor or proofreader to go over your content before you post it. It will be worth the investment!
As long as your site is well designed and has accurate and up-to-date content, users will find it helpful and will be sure to return.
Brian House is the founder of MySocialReach, a social media and search engine management technology firm specializing in the optical industry.