Your veterinary website should have a clear purpose: turn users into actual clients. The inherent difficulty in this is that relationships are much more difficult to start online, because it’s so far removed from a natural interaction with you. But while most veterinarians choose to ignore this problem, we are going to teach you how to overcome it. It will mean nothing less than your practice’s growth.
Step 1 – Conversion Optimization
“Conversion” means the transition from a website visitor to a lead. This is usually through a phone call or a form submission, such as an appointment request. The principles of conversion optimization are simple: always give the user a visible path to action (no-matter where they are on your website), and make the action as easy as possible to complete.
There are a couple important ways to execute on this idea. First, it is important that your website has a “sticky” header. This means the header stays in place as you scroll through the website. Your phone number should be fixed in your header, typically it’s a best practice to put it in the upper right. It’s important to utilize certain conventions for websites – people know to look for a phone number in the upper right of the screen, so that’s where it should be.
There should be multiple request appointment buttons throughout your website. The request form needs to be kept as simple as possible. Remember, our brains are wired to try to save energy whenever possible. The more steps in front of us, the less likely we are to take them. Keep your appointment request form limited to three fields – name, phone number, and preferred time of day to contact. It’s tempting to try to collect more valuable information, but your conversion rate will suffer.
Step 2 – UX
UX design is the paradigm shift that has recently shaken up the web design world. The idea is to focus on the user’s experience (hence, “UX”), and to better understand what makes them feel and act on a website. The true value in UX is that it helps us better influence and direct behavior. That starts with giving your user a phenomenal experience. Websites that prioritize UX design typically enjoy incredibly healthy ROI.
UX is about understanding people – design must come second. The important thing to understand is that this is, and always will be, about relationships. Your website’s job should be to make a user feel comfortable enough to take action. The only way to do that is if they trust you. There are several ways to do this, which we’ll list below:
- Their first impression of you will largely be based on the quality of your website’s design. Make sure it is unquestionably modern and engaging.
- A well looped video background causes extremely positive and strong emotional reactions.
- Client testimonials should be a central experience for any user.
- Use high quality imagery throughout the website that demonstrates the human-animal bond.
Note: To see a website that has excellent UX design, see AAHA’s Practice of the Year, Pembroke Animal Hospital.
Step 3 – Mobile Friendly
No matter where you are, a significant amount of your website’s traffic is coming through smartphones. In fact, there’s a real chance that it’s more than half of your overall traffic. Mobile design requires different execution – the website must be simplified to accommodate the smaller screen sizes. This can be done in one of two ways.
The first way is to have a dedicated mobile website built. Typically, it will be a very limited website that is tailored to your website’s most necessary user functions – such as contact options and location navigation. This was a very common choice a few years ago, but is not generally recommended today. It is cost-intensive (because you’re essentially building another website), and usually offers a bare-bones experience. Because of this, trust is hard to build, as it’s difficult to get to know you.
Fortunately, in the last few years, there has been a pioneering innovation that has largely solved this problem. The innovation is called “responsive design.” With responsive design, the website is engineered to be able to adapt its size and content, automatically, to suit different screen sizes. Which is really pretty amazing! This way, the user is still able to read your story in a way that best suits the medium.