By now, you realize that a website is necessary for the success of your veterinary practice. Most new clients search for a veterinarian online, and if you can’t be found there, your practice won’t grow. Today, we discuss common mistakes of developing a veterinary practice website.
The average small business owner is likely to make some mistakes when developing a website. After all, this is not their area of expertise. However you can easily avoid the pitfalls that will significantly impact the value of your finished product.
Here are five common veterinary practice website mistakes to avoid:
1. Cutting costs on your development team: Website design and development require a team approach. An experienced web designer 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 for your veterinary website. 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 isn’t user-friendly: Website pages that play music automatically, or have animated “talking-head” narrators may seem exciting and advanced at first glance, but these features annoy your 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:
• Confusing 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.
• 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.
• Choosing a template website. Cookie cutter template sites don’t show pet owners what makes your practice special. Also, inflexible templates care mean your website content ends up as a jumbled mess.
3. Using a free hosting plan. There are many demands on your marketing budget, so you may think about using a free website hosting company. There are many reasons why this is a bad idea. Free hosting companies do not guarantee your site’s visibility. Free hosting companies come and go, and many run out of money and shut down. If this happens, your website will disappear and it will be nearly impossible to recover your website files.
Also, free hosting companies often include banner and popup ads on your website and you have no control over these ads. In general, you will find free hosting companies have no technical support, slow response time, and will cause you more stress and headaches in the long-run.
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 marketing writer. A good marketing writer understands your audience and knows how to write in a way pet owners find both appealing and compelling.
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 your site is proofread. Any errors will make your practice appear unprofessional and untrustworthy.
5. Ignoring Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A custom-designed and well-written website is of no value if pet owners don’t see it. Even in your own town, your competition will beat you to the top of pet owners’ Google search results if you don’t pay attention to veterinary SEO.
Decades ago, it would have been unthinkable to open a practice or launch a business and neglect to take out local print ads. Now, your veterinary hospital website is as important to the success of your practice as those print ads once were. It deserves the expertise of professional designers, coders, writers and SEO experts – all of whom you’ll find at VetNetwork. Please take a moment to visit our online portfolio of recently designed custom veterinary hospital websites. Then give us a call at (800) 564-4215 today.