Reading time 5.42
By now it should be obvious that there are good reasons to have a website. A few possible functions of a website are marketing and giving 24/7 access to your practice. It can offer general information about your office policies, hours, directions and insurances accepted. You might choose to add appointment scheduling, contact lens ordering or other more advanced functions.
But, there are other important functions a website provides. It can increase connections between you and your patients. Your website could be the first, but hopefully not the only contact, a potential patient may have with your practice. Your website also conveys the culture and values of your office and doctors. If you choose to use a mission or vision statement you can make a direct statement. But be aware, it is also conveyed by the tone of the copy on your website. When I discuss copy, I am talking about the written material on your website. It also applies to the written portion of e-mails and social media posts.
Being honest and up front, I am in no way an expert on how to set up a website or what features you need. I feel that it is an individual decision made by those in the practice. However, I will admit that I have examined a large number of websites of optometric practices. I did this for research when I was creating my own company’s site. There are no set rules for website content. What I am offering here are just my ideas and observations about websites. You may agree or not- either way is acceptable. As I said, it is your choice. I do hope that this blog will at least inspire you to examine your site and make changes if needed.
Since there is a lot of information to cover, I decided to write this blog in three parts. In the first part, I will deal with the look of your site and some thoughts about the copy (written part) itself. In the second part, I will discuss more about the copy and content of a website. The third part will discuss other possible features of a website.
CHOICE OF FONTS AND COLORS
How legible is your site? As a visual profession, we should be aware of this. We know that our patients, and thus the visitors to our site, are of all different ages and all different visual abilities. Exercise great care in choosing the fonts and colors used throughout our site. If a person has to struggle to read it- it won’t get read. To make you website effective, you must remember who your target audience is.
When choosing a font be sure that it is easy to read. Not all fonts are. Find one that appeals to you, but is also legible. Try out the print size and font type on some older patients, staff members or family members. Get their feedback on how easy it is to read. I recommend using an older person (65+ years) and a person with reduced acuity if possible. If you only test it with people who are in their twenties and thirties, you may not get the information you need.
Be aware that you can alter the spacing of the font. You are able to compress or extend the space between letters. The weight of the font is another variable. The weight is the thickness of the line stroke of the letter (i.e. boldness). When I constructed my website, I had them increase the weight of the font to make it easier to read.
The colors used on your website often coincide with your logo if you have one. Many people have consulted and created a branded look for their practice. If so, then the colors and fonts used on your website should be consistent with your brand.
Some websites feature a dark background with light letters. One example would be a black background with white letters. These sites can be striking, but be careful because they can also be difficult to read. When you choose to use a dark background- font style, size and weight become even more important.
Look at how your chosen background color and font color interact. Colors that are not compatible create retinal rivalry. The results in an unpleasant visual experience.
EVALUATING THE COPY
If you wrote the copy, I would recommend that you ask other people to read it before finalizing it. It is much easier for someone else to find the places that are confusing or unclear. Proofing your own work is difficult. We know what we were trying to say, so when we proof our own work it will all seem clear to us.
There are a lot of apps that you can use to help check your copy. You can use the spelling and grammar checks included in your own software. There are apps like https://www.grammarly.com/ to check for grammatical errors. I use the Hemingway app http://www.hemingwayapp.com/ to help me edit my writing. It identifies sentences that are complex and difficult to read. I don’t always make all the changes it points out, but it does give me an objective way to view my writing. It will also give you word counts, reading times and reading grade level.
When writing for the general public it, your goal is to write to a seventh to eighth grade level. Definitely proof your copy and look for spelling mistakes. Typos and spelling errors give the impression that you are careless, sloppy or don’t care. None of these are impressions you want to give to a prospective new patient. As a final step, I read my copy aloud and find that this can identify awkward passages.
The written part of your website (copy) should avoid technical jargon- to make it easy to read. Using technical terms does not impress potential patients. It can come across as you being a medical snob. Or it can give the impression that your communication skills are not good. Neither is going to get patients in your office.
I don’t like the use of superlatives in website copy. You may or may not agree, but I think you should at least think about it a little. Examples of superlatives are; “We offer the best care in the county…”, “We were the first to have this piece of equipment or do this procedure…”, or “We are the only ones in the area to have a certain piece of equipment…”. I dislike them for several reasons. Number one- they are difficult to prove and often are not true. Other doctors are always updating their procedures and equipment, so how do you know you are the only one or the best?
Another reason I dislike superlatives is they can paint you as a braggart. Is that the image you want to project? There is a fine line between being confident and tooting your own horn and the perception that you are bragging. I feel you can come across as confident and knowledgeable in a more subtle way that presents you in a more caring manner. It just takes a little more thought in what and how you write.
MAKE IT PERSONAL AND CONNECT
I would much rather read something personal about yourself and your practice. What you take pride in, how you feel about your staff and patients and how you decided to be an optometrist are of greater interest to me. Including general information on your family and hobbies can also help patients connect with you. Sincerity is very important. Don’t make statements because they sound good. Only make statements that are true. Authenticity is a desirable trait in today’s world. Being humble and sharing why you chose to practice optometry can create a connection with your patients. You can share that you stay on the cutting edge of all new changes in optometry without bragging.
Take the time to look at your website and what it says about you as a doctor. Does it accurately convey your beliefs, goals and commitments to your patients? Does it make a prospective patient want to visit your office? And if they do visit you, is their experience going to be consistent with what your website conveyed?
Join us in the next blog for more information on making your website represent your practice and function as an effective marketing tool for you.
What are your feelings about the construction of a website? Do you have suggestions about features that have worked well for your practice? Share your comments below.