Ah the dental website debate is certainly my favorite. Do I go with a national company that has templates or “skins” and just have them fill in my content? Do I go with a national dental marketing company that has created numerous websites in my industry with similar success stories? Do I find a local website designer in my area? Do I have my neighbor’s kid down the street that has 1500 friends on Facebook and “will probably do as good a job for a third the price” create one?
UPDATE: Google has updated their search algorithms again and is looking for responsive design. Having a desktop and a seperate mobile site isn’t as effective anymore
I’m going to give you a little choose your own adventure guide here to help you answer the questions above.
Step 1: Do I currently have a website? Yes go to step 3 No go to step 2
Step 2: Do you have your brand clearly defined and are you comfortable discussing the services and procedures you offer? If you are still in the process of trying to figure out the services you have you probably need to complete this before engaging a web developer. What image do you want for your office? Are you serving families or are you doing high-end cosmetic dentistry. Go to step 4
Step 3: If you have a current site why do you want a new one? Did you use a template before? My suggestion here is if you are thinking about “updating” your website it’s almost better to start fresh with a new look and new content. People do not become custom to your website and after they’re a patient probably don’t visit it too often. Use your Facebook page to engage your current patients and get to work on a new site that will engage new patients. Go to step 4
Step 4: What is your budget for a new website? If you’re just opening your practice go to step 5. If you have been open for a year or more go to step 6.
Step 5: When you open your practice I realize the “working capital” doesn’t go as far as you think it will. It is much more important to get a website up than to not have one at all. So if the $1500 template model is all you can truly afford go that route. The main thing is to be sure not to get tied into any contracts beyond the website and make sure you can take ownership of it afterwards.
The disadvantage to this is it really isn’t custom, it won’t reflect your brand, may have some challenges when it comes to SEO and at the end of the day you are usually on your own when you need changes made.
Step6: All I’m going to say here is you have an opportunity to capture new patients. Your website is your storefront and your information hub. It has to be aesthetically pleasing and informative. In addition it has to be easy to navigate so people can find information quickly. So my point is that a website is as much the image of your office as the structure and the people in it. Spend the money to get it done right. You knew better than to open your office in an industrial park to save money so why do that for your website.
My suggestion: Choose a company that is going to do a custom site and not “Recreate” someone else’s site for you. They will probably cost $3000+ to get the site done but you will have a SEO ready site with someone you feel comfortable to partner with. Make sure the vendor isn’t creating the site and walking away. Make sure they are going to host it and maintain it afterwards. It is crucial you know where they are hosting it and have access to this information. Majority of companies will hold your site hostage if you move away from them so know this upfront. Be sure to ask questions about how they work with you after the site is done. Most will want to sell you SEO packages but I would actually look at companies specializing in your industry for that.
Dental Inbound actually works with numerous web vendors to help you find the best value for your budget.