Prospective Patients are Moving Beyond the Desktop – Is Your Practice Website up to the Challenge?

Prospective Patients3In just a few short years, web-enabled mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have grown from curiosities to “must-haves” for the vast majority of your practice’s perspective patients. According to Business Insider, by 2014 mobile Internet use will surpass desktop computers. A good chunk of this traffic comes from web searches and according to Google research, 9 of 10 searchers have taken action (a call or a visit) as a result of a smartphone search.

What does this mean for your orthodontic practice? Today’s prospective patients are using their smartphones, laptops, and tablets to search for and check out practices like yours. To turn these site visitors into new patients, your practice’s website must accurately present your brand and call to action no matter which device they use.

Five Reasons to Make Sure Your Website is Optimized for Any Device

There is a new wave of website design principles that enable a single website to look and function effectively across all devices and screen sizes, from desktops and laptops to popular tablets and phones. For your orthodontic practice, upgrading your website to adopt these design principles, also known as responsive design, can materially impact new patient flow, referral success and profitability.

Here are five reasons your practice website needs to seriously consider an upgrade to this new type of website design.

1. Improved Prospective Patient Experience

As the capabilities of mobile devices accelerate, consumers are raising their expectations of the experience they’re going to get on the web. On a typical day, a prospective patient of yours might browse the web on an iPhone 5, a Dell laptop, or a Galaxy tablet – three very different devices, each with a distinct screen size and web browser platform. No matter which device is in their hands, they want to experience your actual website. A prospective patient doesn’t want a version of your site that doesn’t work on the other devices, or put up with limited functionality because they are not on a full-size computer.

Responsive-designed sites ensure that your practice puts its best online foot forward, on every device and screen size, every time. And far from compromising your website’s functionality, responsive design allows you to actually optimize the experience for mobile users – more on that as we go along!

 

2. Increased Social Media Referrals

The enormous popularity of social media means referral opportunities for your orthodontic practice could happen at any time. This is a good thing; you work hard to create a great experience for your patients. Make it easy for them to share their experience with their social contacts!

Let’s say a new patient has a great first visit at your orthodontic practice. As he walks out, he pulls out his smartphone and posts a quick status update on

Facebook, which includes a link to your practice’s website. Several of his friends see the post and click the link. Some of them are on smartphones; some are on tablets; others are on laptops.

With responsive design, you can rest assured that everyone on your patients’ social networks will view your site exactly as it was designed to be viewed. Whether these “social handoffs” take place on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or other social media sites, your site will make a great first impression.

 

3. Clear Practice Differentiation

To turn today’s online visitors into tomorrow’s patients; your website must deliver the best possible experience to each of them.

We said earlier that a one website on any device approach enables you to optimize the experience for every user. What does that mean? Consider that the overwhelming majority of mobile searches are for local businesses. With a responsive-designed site, you can place your practice’s address and phone number at the top of their screen, or provide a highly visible link to schedule an appointment.

By giving your mobile visitors the information they’re most likely looking for up front, you increase the likelihood they’ll take that next step to contact you. And best of all, this is happening without changing a thing for visitors using laptops and desktops. Talk about differentiation for your practice!

 

4. Improved Search Engine Optimization

Responsive design and search optimization go hand in hand. By providing one website with the same content for all devices, responsive design makes it is easier for search engines to index a website and improve its ability to be found in native search results. Little surprise, then, that Google recommends responsive design!

 

5. Better Prepared for the Future

New devices, screen resolutions, screen sizes and web browsers are constantly entering the marketplace. As they do, you can bet that your patients will immediately take advantage of them. A practice website that has a responsive design framework won’t have to worry about building another App or add yet another separate website for a specific device category.

The investment you make today in a responsive website ensures your practice will continue to garner increased visitors and new patient calls regardless of what new devices come to market.

 

Final Thoughts

How your prospective patients access the Internet is rapidly changing. Mobile devices will soon surpass traditional computers as the dominant platform for web searches. As a result, new devices, many with different screen sizes and resolutions, are being introduced and adopted all the time. For practices to stand out and capture the attention of prospective patients, they have to have strategy to adapt to these changes.

Responsive design represents a fundamental shift in website design by placing a premium on view-to-action behavior. This approach provides an optimal viewing experience for prospective and existing patients, regardless of which devices they use to find and engage with your practice’s website. By deploying one responsive-designed website for all devices and screen sizes, your practice has an opportunity to differentiate your value, help drive a better search and social experience and ultimately ensure that your website provides an ongoing channel for new patient flow into the practice.

 

Prospective Patients1Diana P. Friedman, MA., MBA

Diana Friedman is President and chief executive officer of Sesame Communications. She has a 20 year success track record in leading dental innovation and marketing. Throughout her career Diana served as a recognized practice management consultant, author and speaker. She holds an MA in Sociology and an M.BA from Arizona State University.

This article published in 2013 OrthoWorld.

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