VetNetwork Blog

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Developing Your Veterinary Practice Website

0 Comments Posted by Alyssa Noonan in Marketing, Websites on Thursday, May 5th, 2011.

By now, you realize that a website is necessary for the success of your veterinary practice. Research shows that the internet is where most new clients will search for a veterinarian, and if you can’t be found there, your practice can’t grow.

In the process of creating the perfect website for a veterinary practice, the average practice owner will make mistakes. After all, this is not your area of expertise. Here are five common mistakes to avoid in the process of developing a website for your veterinary practice:

1.  Cutting costs on the development team: Website design and development require a team approach. A creative designer with experience in web design will be able to handle the aesthetic aspects, but that person probably does not have the coding expertise needed, nor the ability to write SEO-friendly content. Make sure your website is developed by a full-service marketing company with an experienced project manager who knows the process. You may know a junior web designer who will do the job for next to nothing, but you will end up paying more in the long run.

2. Accepting a website design that hampers usability: Website pages that play music automatically, or have animated “talking-head” narrators may seem technologically advanced at first glance, but these features annoy visitors. A prospective client visits your site to find out about you and your practice, not to watch a movie or listen to music playing in an unending loop. Other features to avoid:

  • Horizontal scroll bars: When a design is too wide for the screen, a scroll bar must be used to view all of the content. This inconvenient tool appears automatically at the bottom of the browser when the page is too wide.
  • Confusing “mystery” navigation: The path leading through your website should be simple to follow. Visitors navigating through the pages should be able to find what they are looking for and easily get back home. Content should never be more than 2 clicks into your website.
  • Slow-loading graphics: Be sure graphics are optimized for the web, and easily load into the browser window. No one wants to sit and wait while a picture or movie loads.
  • A design that doesn’t center in the browser window or doesn’t work in all browsers. A good web developer can avoid these design mistakes.

3. Using a free hosting plan.  There are many demands on your marketing budget, so you may think, why not use a free website hosting company? There are many reasons why this is a bad idea. The most compelling is that free hosting companies do not guarantee your site’s longevity. In other words, one day without notice, your website can disappear. Free hosting companies come and go, and many run out of money and shut down. If this happens, it is nearly impossible to recover your website files.

Websites hosted with free hosting companies often include banner and popup ads that appear at the top of your website.  You have no control over these ads. Your URL may also be an awkward domain name such as www.myvethospital.freewebsitehosting.com. Some free hosting companies also require that you use their templates, further restricting your design options. In general, you will find the companies have no technical support, slow response time, and may even have viruses on their servers that infect your website and can be transmitted to your visitors.

4.  Writing your own content and never updating it. You may think that you understand your practice better than any copywriter, but the content on your website should be written by a professional website content writer. A good writer knows how to appeal to your audience and speaks their language. Your message needs to be written in plain English and not in technical jargon

Having good, original content with all of the right keywords is vital in keeping your website visible in search engine results. Do not copy content from another website. This is illegal copyright infringement, and penalties can be severe.

Your content should be updated regularly with news items, event announcements  and even a blog to keep it fresh and interesting. Above all, be sure you have the site proofread. Multiple errors will make your practice appear unprofessional and untrustworthy.

5. Ignoring Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A beautifully designed and eloquently written website is of no value at all if it can’t be found in Google. Optimizing your website so Google search engine can find it is absolutely necessary if you want to rise to the top of the millions of websites on the Internet. Even in your own town, your competition will beat you to the top every time without some attention to SEO.

Decades ago, it would have been unthinkable to open a practice or launch a business and neglect to take out an ad in the Yellow Pages. In this electronic age, your veterinary hospital website is as important to the success of your practice as the Yellow Pages ad of old. It deserves the attention of experienced designers, coders, writers and SEO experts who know how to put your veterinary practice online in a beautiful, functional way. You’ll find all of these professionals in one place at VetNetwork. Give us a call at 800-564-4215.

Article Written and Copyright © by
Mark Feltz, DVM
Owner
VetNetwork
www.vetnetwork.com

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