By Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO
A web site with easy-to-find practical information puts fannies in exam chairs. Site visitors should readily find your location, see the services you provide–and easily schedule an appointment.
When a prospective or existing patient needs to see you, the last thing they want is a scavenger hunt on your practice web site. They want a site that requires no guesswork. It should be easy to find your phone number, location, and the services you provide. They also want to easily reorder contact lenses and easily find out what frame lines you carry.
The key word: easy! The payoff: You can increase exams and revenues with a few simple changes to your web site.
Revamped Websites Generate More Patients
Two Case Studies
Eric White, OD
Complete Vision Care, San Diego, Calif.
Pre-Improvements: 1 to 2 new patients per week.
Key Improvements: With assistance from Eyecarepro.net, we eliminated homepage clutter, made our phone number easier to find and more prominently listed our specialties.
Post-Improvement: 2 to 3 new patients per day.
Dr. White conducted 193 comprehensive examinations in December 2011 with gross fees of $164,943. Of those exams, 55 were new patients, and of the new patients, 27 said they found out about the practice online, using the practice web site before booking an appointment.
Tommy Lim, OD
Berryessa Optometry, San Jose, Calif.
Pre-Improvement: In 2010, a stagnant, or, at best, slow growth pattern in number of new patients acquired.
Key improvements: Made it easier to navigate, easier to make an appointment, easier to learn about eye health issues and easier to read patient testimonials.
Post-Improvement: Twenty-one percent growth in new patients in 2011 with no additional doctor hours or new personnel added. The only change made to the marketing strategy was the revamp of the practice web site.
Help Them Find It Fast
Problem: Trouble navigating to find needed information is probably the number one complaint users have with web sites. Put yourself in the position of a consumer.For example, have you ever visited a site and simply wanted a phone number? Your eyes swept over the homepage at least several times before you finally noticed the phone number tucked in small, hard-to-read text in a corner.
Worse yet are sites that don’t feature the phone number and location in a bold font on the homepage; instead, a link says “contact us.” To you it may be intuitive that anyone who wants to get in touch with you should click on the “contact us” link, but from the patient’s perspective that link could be interpreted as a place to go if you want to send the practice an e-mail.
Solution: Ask a friend who doesn’t know much about your practice and has never seen your web site before to pretend to be a prospective patient wanting to book an appointment. To make it realistic, ask the friend to use her real life vision needs as a basis of the site visit. For example, they might come to your site as a contact lens patient who also likes fashionable frames and, in addition, has dry eye and a family of history of glaucoma.
Having that friend use her real-life eyecare scenario to explore your site might reveal that your contact lens services are hard to find and that you do not make any mention at all on your site about your expertise in treating dry eye and that you are glaucoma-certified. It also will reveal more obvious problems like hard-to-find phone number or location information on the homepage. Have a few different friends do this exercise and you will have a list of needed improvements to make to your web site.
Does Your Site Take Forever to Upload?
Problem: Most of us have visited a web site only to wait at least a minute just for the images on the homepage to render. Or, how about all those sites where an image appears with a message to click “here” to skip the intro or lists a subject of interest which takes a minute or longer after clicking to take you to your destination? Type in the URL to your homepage on your browser. How long did it take you to get there? Did it take you long enough that you could look away from your computer and look back and you still weren’t there?
It could be that your modem is just slow, so now type in the URL for a few other sites, like Google, the New York Times and eBay.com (to give you a good cross section). If your site took noticeably longer to render, you have a problem. Once on your site, repeat this experiment with all the web pages within your site (i.e. contact lens ordering, services, contact us, testimonials) and see how long it takes to get where you want to go. If you seem to have a problem with long upload times, there are some common culprits that usually can be easily fixed
Solution: One common cause of long upload times are Flash-based images and other images that are too large for the site’s platform. Fixing this issue may be as simple as changing the images and graphic elements on your site. Remember, fancy graphics and a complex design is only useful if patients can access the site to view them!
Is Your Site Only Usable on Desktops and Laptops?
Problem: Have you ever tried accessing your site on your smartphone or, if you have one, your tablet device (e.g., iPad)? Give it a try and then try finding some of the commonly needed information already mentioned such as phone number, location and services. Can you do what you need to do to find the frame lines you offer, order contact lenses and learn about your practice’s specialties? Try that exercise on both your smartphone and your tablet device. If you are not able to do everything on your smartphone and/or tablet that you could do on your site using a desktop or laptop, you have a problem. With consumers increasingly turning toward use of smartphones to access the internet, a site that doesn’t work on these mobile devices is akin to a digital death sentence.
Solution: To prevent your site from becoming obsolete in the era of the mobile device, consider working with a web consultant (if you lack the expertise yourself) to strip down the content on your site to make it easier to access. That includes use of smaller-size graphics that don’t take as long to render. Changes also could include calls to action on your homepage such as “click to call,” instant directions and a button to click on to make an appointment. Editor’s note: See Make Your Web Site Mobile-Friendly.
Top Consumer Complaints…and Quick Fixes
Hard to find contact info Make phone number prominent
Can’t find services provided List the services you provide prominently
Don’t see how to make appointment “Click here to make an appointment”
Don’t see where to reorder CLs Top navigation bar tab “re-order contact lenses”
Long upload times Eliminate large photo files, use lo-res images, eliminate Flash
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Alan N. Glazier, OD, FAAO, is the owner of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care in Rockville, Md. He also is author of “Searchial Marketing: How Social Media Drives Search Optimization in Web 3.0.” To contact him: AGlazier@youreyesite.com. Connect with Dr. Glazier on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alan.glazier.