Optometric Management Tip # 423   -   Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Upgrading Your Practice Website, Part 2

I wrote last week about the importance of a strong, interactive practice website. I believe the website is the cornerstone of eye care marketing for the present and into the future. There are many excellent internal and external marketing strategies we can work with that spring from or build upon your practice website.

A do it yourself project?

It is certainly possible to design your own website if you learn how to write HTML code and there are many off the shelf programs and websites available to make it even easier by using a template driven format. I don't recommend going that route because the finished product just won't look as good or represent you as well as a custom design. Eye care professionals (ECPs) are not graphic designers or advertising professionals and if you do it yourself, it usually shows. Besides that point, designing and building a great website is fairly time consuming and you can reduce that if you have professional help. Also, strict template sites have very little ability to work with third party interactive features. Your practice website is too important to do it yourself.

I recommend a hybrid approach between total custom design and a template driven process. I want the look of a custom design but I want the control of being able to write my own text, upload my own photos and make changes anytime I wish with no additional bother or cost. There are web design firms that offer this semi-custom approach at a reasonable price.

Choosing a web designer

Look for a web design firm that...

Content

Like all great marketing projects, start by thinking what the medium and message will do for the customer, not what they do for you. Naturally, your website will be about your practice, but write it in a way that tells visitors how they will benefit.

Writing the content is easy for some eye care professionals and difficult for others, but good content is a must for a great website. You can and should get help with expressing the ideas in a pleasing style with proper grammar, but start with the ideas you want to convey. A good website development firm will guide you through the process and help you with the content, but only the practice owner (or another party who knows the practice extremely well) can describe what the practice is all about.

Design

Your web designer will guide you through the process and will ask key questions, but start to consider these points:

Photographs

Photographs are a vital element to a good website. You need lots of good photos that present your office and your services in a pleasing manner. With a good digital camera and some basic skills, you can take your own photos of your office and staff. Take several shots of each scene so you can analyze them and choose the best.

You should also have a good photo editing software program, like PhotoShop, so you can modify your photos before uploading them to your website. In many cases, the file size will be too large for use in a website template, but you can use the editing program to reduce it. You can also resize the photo and crop it to remove unwanted elements or to center the subject better.

You can also find stock photos of almost anything you want on the internet at minimal cost or free, but good photos from your practice are generally preferred because new visitors will get a preview of your office and existing patients will see people and elements they recognize.

Promote your website

You and your staff can make a huge difference in how your website is used.


Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management