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Chances are good that you already have a practice website, but if you don't or if you would like to change some aspects of your current site, here are some ideas to consider.
Designing your website
While it's certainly possible to design and program your own website, the computer code language that is used may be a little difficult to master for the uninitiated. Besides that, a great website should have design elements that may be best left to professionals. The primary language used in websites is called HTML (hypertext markup language). Some commercially available software programs (such as Microsoft Frontpage, Expression Web or SharePoint Designer) are available to guide you through the web authoring process.
A far easier way to obtain your own website is to use a company that specializes in web design. The services available from a website development firm range from personalized work with an individual designer to complete self-service where you just type your text into a template and upload your files for photos and printed forms. You'll get more creative personalization and a more unique website with the former, but you'll find a lower cost and possibly more control with the latter.
There are many website design firms available to you. The list below contains some companies that have experience creating websites for eye care professionals but it is by no means exhaustive nor does inclusion constitute an endorsement or recommendation. You should evaluate and select a company that matches the needs of your practice.
What to look for in a web development company
Whether you use a local boutique web designer, a national firm specializing in eye care web design, an Internet do-it-yourself company, a web template service offered through a vision plan, or your brother-in-law who dabbles in computers, be sure to insist that you have direct access to your website so you can make changes easily by yourself. I think it's important to be able to log on to your website file with a password and delete, change or add text and files. If the web designer wants to assist you with every change or update, you'll find that you avoid making changes because it's inconvenient and may trigger an additional fee. You should own the website and have direct access to it yourself anytime you wish.
Here are some additional features to consider:
Can you use your own domain name independently from the web hosting name?
Can the web design firm host your site for you on its computer server and what is the cost for this service?
Can you get hit statistics about your website?
Does the firm offer features such as online contact lens ordering, appointment scheduling and office form completion?
Is technical support available?
Will the firm assist you if you wish to send emails to your patients?
Website development firms
This list is not exhaustive and inclusion is not an endorsement, but all of the companies listed here have been used by eye care practitioners.