Patients take just 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about your dental website. It’s no longer enough to have a site that’s beautiful and functional. To gain an edge over your competitors, your dental website design in 2020 needs to keep pace with your patients’ digital expectations How to attract new dental patients: and reflect their emotional needs, and the tasks they want to perform.
Faster really is better
There’s no getting away from the fact that your dental patients are used to getting the information they want on-demand. In today’s 24/7 convenience-driven economy consumers are using platforms like Netflix and Spotify to watch and listen to what they want, when they want. They’re live streaming sports events on their mobile phones, comparing prices on their devices as they shop, and using voice-activated virtual helpers like Google Home to find the nearest dental practice.
According to research on web page visual appeal, you now have just 50 milliseconds to make that great first impression when they land on your website. And only 15 seconds to keep their attention, says Tony Haile of Chartbeat.
How to give them a reason to stay
So, how can your website engage and persuade patients in such a short window of opportunity?
First, the answer to great dental website design lies in understanding how patients feel when they’re searching online and land on your site. Adding video content or introducing educational content won’t necessarily make it more engaging unless it provides answers that address their emotional needs.
Patients who land on your website because they’ve searched for an ‘emergency dentist near me’ for example, may be feeling anxious, need information quickly and may also be in too much pain to comfortably talk on the phone. These kinds of searches are likely to be driven by an emotional need for help and reassurance.
You can use this information to inform your dental SEO strategy How To Take Your Dental SEO From Zero To Hero – and the design and user experience (UI) of your website so it’s more likely to form an emotional connection with patients as soon as they land on it. And having an understanding of how your patients’ feel when they search, enables you to offer clear, simplified solutions to the problem that brought them there.
Let’s look at six examples of dental websites that successfully achieve this and why. Then let’s consider actionable ways that you can improve your own website design in 2020.
5 leading dental website designs
1. Lydian Dental
Lydian Dental is a group of mobile and bricks and mortar dental practices in Arizona and Texas in the United States. According to research carried out by Delta Dental Plans Association, 42 percent of Americans would like to visit the dentist more often. Lydian’s goal is to put the patient first and make it faster, simpler and more convenient for people to do that.
To convey ‘convenience’ and ‘simplicity’ to its patients, everything from the design of Lydian’s website to the overall architectural and interior design of its offices is pared back and minimal. The website features lots of space, uses subtle animated gifs and a three-step itinerary for patients booking and visiting the mobile practice during their lunch breaks.
The copy infers that even though you might say you can’t visit the dentist because you don’t have enough time to go, with their mobile service, now you do. Simple.
2. New York General Dentistry
Dr Inna Churn’s relaxed, unhurried approach to dentistry is evident throughout the New York General Dentistry website – not just in the design and copy but also in one-hour appointments that patients can book.
“I wanted [the website] to portray a relaxed setting without judgement,” says Dr Churn. “We want to go against the grain of a typical medical office being sterile and lacking warmth. Our patients become family the minute they walk through the door.”
To achieve this, the website features lots of white space, round buttons, a non-corporate, sans serif font and circular profile shots to impart the feeling of calm, personalised, gentle and caring dentistry before you’ve even set foot in the practice.
‘The design, I believe is clean and warm at the same time. There is not a lot of clutter or reference to teeth. I wanted it to be a portal to get to know the space, the staff and of course me.’
Dr Inna Churn, New York General Dentistry
She says the website is designed to be easy to navigate without a lot of technicality. “We tried to simplify things so patients could easily understand the dental aspect and focused a lot on eliciting an emotion of warmth.”
“New York General Dentistry is a great example of how to use a website to bring the patient customer experience to life,” says Ivan Davies, the Executive Creative Director of Arc Worldwide.
“It looks deceptively simple in its UX and UI, but what it’s really doing is making it easy for patients to make the choices they need to make on the site, which is to book an appointment or to ‘learn more’ about the practice’s treatments and services,” he says.
“As a visitor to the website, you’re left feeling that being treated at the practice would be equally as undemanding and relaxing.”
3. Smile Design Boutique
This Swiss dental practice launched in 2018 and provides a range of treatments, including dental emergency, cosmetic and periodontal procedures. Patients can choose to communicate in real time with the practice on apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
These apps are particularly well suited to our desires as consumers to do everything on our mobiles. But for UK dentists, these apps also carry other benefits. They’re useful for emergency cases because patients needing help in the moment that they’re searching may also be in pain. Offering a solution where they don’t have to talk to practice staff but can text them instead, helps them perform the tasks they need to complete, more comfortably and easily.
Online chat is also great for high value dental treatments with longer sales cycles because it aligns with patients’ expectations for premium service. Rather than having to wait for reception staff to deal with their inquiry by phone, they can ask questions and perform tasks faster and more easily, without the possibility of being put on hold.
Providing convenience and accessibility in the moment that patients need it naturally improves your chances of them booking an appointment with your practice.
Tend is aimed at Millennial New Yorkers and markets itself as catering to patients’ whole wellbeing. The dental brand launched in 2018, and this year raised US$36 million.
The clean, uncluttered layout has one clear and simple message: “Look forward to the dentist”. Their ‘soft’, ‘no judgement’ approach, with ‘zero waiting times’ and ‘Netflix in your chair’ all serve to reinforce this message in the minds of patients clicking around the site. Patients whose search behaviour is shaped by an emotional need to be impressed and educated are more likely to want to see your customer experience on show.
“Customer experience isn’t just about how your practice team treats patients during their visit,” says Ivan Davies. “It also comes across in your branding. Small things like the font you use on your website can make a big impression on how your dental brand is perceived by patients.”
“Sans serif plays into a Millennial trait of nostalgia. It’s non-corporate and can make websites feel more artisan in their approach and more in touch with thirty-something audiences,” he says.
“Combining it with serif fonts makes websites feel modern and less stuffy than a traditional dental practice might feel. It ‘says’ friendly and approachable, which is just what you want if you’re a patient who suffers from dental anxiety.”
The site’s simple navigation and limited colour palette also emphasise the one task patients need to do on the site, which is to book an appointment. Because the appointment booking process is built or integrated into the website, the branding and UX is consistent throughout. And this continuity is important for providing frictionless online experiences for patients.
TwentyOneDental is a client of Somnowell Marketing. They’re included here because the practice succeeds at engaging patients in those all-important first five seconds by highlighting the customer experience using video.
Patients who are searching with an emotional need to be impressed have aspiration and status in mind. This is borne out in searches for “best cosmetic dentist brighton”, which TwentyOneDental ranks highly for in Google. You can read more about TwentyOneDental’s success in this case study.
Patients visiting the site can get an immediate sense of its premium offering in everything from the practice’s interior design to the advanced digital technology that it has on offer. Video sets the tone for what patients can expect and it can also improve landing page conversion rates by more than 80 percent.
What an ideal digital experience looks like
The best dental website designs of 2021 will offer patients a frictionless user experiences or UX, that extends beyond the website and into the dental practice. Take appointment booking for example. This report from Accenture shows that patients prefer to book appointments online when it suits them, rather than having to call the practice during office hours.
In a convenience-driven economy, dentists can also go one step further by enabling patients to provide their demographic details before they arrive at your practice. This helps to free up your reception team’s time to provide a more personalised service. For patients who are in pain, this could be the difference between a positive experience and an onerous one.
‘Unfortunately, many dental practices seem to be stuck in the late eighties… Why do I still have to call my dentist to book an appointment? Why isn’t the pricing of services transparent? Why can’t I book an appointment for an evening or weekend time?’
Doug Hudson, CEO and Co-Founder of Tend
Simplifying the user experience (UX) of your website goes hand in hand with providing a highly engaging, streamlined graphic design or user interface (UI). UI is the look and feel of your website – elements such as the design of buttons and the fonts used. Together, UX and UI are able to help patients perform tasks like appointment booking with minimal clicks.
How to make your website design more effective
If your website pages are slow to load, don’t display well on mobile, patients can’t book an appointment online or read about your treatments, then you could well be losing business without even realising it. Great dental website design in 2021 is beautiful, but also highly functional and relevant. When appropriate patients arrive at your website, what they see and read on it should convince them to book an appointment.
To make sure your website does this you need to:
- Provide patients with a great user experience and a well-designed user interface.
- Establish an emotional connection with your patients.
- Feature video and SEO content on your website.
- Make sure your website displays well on mobile.
- Ensure page loading speeds are less than 3 seconds.
- Show patient reviews.
- Feature online chat on your website.
- Allow for online appointment booking.
1. Provide patients with a great user experience and well-designed user interface
Graphic designers are UI experts. These are the people who create the look and feel of everything that a patient sees and interacts with on your website. This includes the buttons, the font, the background colours, forms, and so on.
User experience (UX) relates to everything a patient interacts with on your website. Is it easy to book an appointment or is it a struggle? Can patients find information on your website about what’s involved in a procedure or do they need to click through several pages to find it? A positive user experience means it’s intuitive for patients to interact with the UI elements on the page. They can find what they need, the website is easy to navigate, and the experience is frictionless.
Understanding what patients need before they arrive at your website allows you to focus on building a website that delivers on their expectations. This is where a specialist dental marketing agency can be useful because they don’t have to carry out expensive and often time-consuming research to tell you what they should already know about patients. You can leverage their industry knowledge, experience and proven results instead.
2. Establish an emotional connection with your patients
Having a deep understanding of your patients is important for the UX and UI teams building or redesigning your website and it’s also vital for the team who is marketing your dental practice.
Your dental website first and foremost, needs to reflect the types of patients that your treatments attract. If your core offering is paediatric dental services for example, then it makes sense to show images of happy children and parents (after all, parents are the ones paying for your services). On the other hand, if you’re marketing cosmetic dentistry to high value Millennial customers, then you would show these types of people on your website.
You probably have a good idea of the types of patients your practice is treating, but there may be many more people who come to your website and, for a range of reasons, don’t book appointments, call your practice or fill in your forms. Understanding who these patients are could impact the design of your website. Google Analytics can show you who is visiting, their demographic, the pages they’re looking at and many other insights.
3. Feature video and educational content on your website
There are many different types of videos you can use on your website, but the main ones that dentists tend to use are explainer videos and video testimonials. Explainer videos help to tell the story of your practice and help to establish an emotional connection with patients. Video testimonials are patient reviews of the treatments and services they’ve received from you. Both these types of content help to distinguish your practice from local competitors and make it memorable in the minds of patients.
Providing educational content on your website can provide answers to patients who are at the beginning of their search. When they’re looking for information on, say, what happens during a procedure, giving them the content that they’re looking for helps them build trust in your dental brand. And trust is essential if patients are to see value in the treatments you offer.
4. Make sure your website displays well on mobile
Responsive websites have been around since 2004, so if your website doesn’t display well on mobile it could well be time for a redesign. According to online publication socPub, more than half of internet users (57 percent) won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile experience. And Inside Design reports that 85 percent of adults think a business’s mobile experience should be better than its desktop experience. Also be aware that most people view mobile sites silently, or while listening to music so any audio content you have on their may get lost. According to a report from Verizon Media and Publicis Media, 69 percent of people say they watch video in public with the sound turned off and 80 percent say they’re more likely to watch a video to the end if captions are provided.
5. Ensure page loading speeds are less than 3 seconds
Page loading times are important for conversion rates and for search engine rankings. Every second really does make a difference. According to Think With Google, 53 percent of visitors to mobile sites will leave if it takes longer than three seconds to load. But most pages (70 percent) take nearly seven seconds for content in the top part of the screen to load. The probability of bounce – or patients leaving the site – increases to 106 percent when page loading speeds go from one to six seconds. You can check your page loading speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. And an SEO expert can help you improve it using on-page SEO tactics.
6. Show patient reviews
Reviews play an important part in helping to build trust among patients when they’re determining the quality of your practice and the treatments you have on offer compared to your local competitors. In the same way as your patients verbally refer their friends and family members to your practice, reviews work in the same way online. If you don’t feature these, then you could well be less visible in local online searches.
7. Feature online chat or chatbots on your website
Online chat enables patients to message your reception team in real time. Facebook Messenger Marketing is one of the most popular ways they can do this, with more than seven billion conversations happening on the app every day. You can also use Facebook Messenger to ask patients to opt into your email drip campaigns. These could be to announce a new dentist who is joining the practice, offer special discounts to patients or send them educational content about the treatments you offer. Facebook explains how Messenger complies with GDPR on their website.
Chatbots have the potential to take Facebook Messenger to a whole new level. These are automated messaging programs that can sound like a human conversation. You can use a chatbot to answer patients’ questions about opening times, pricing, appointment time availability, and so on. Chatbots work 24/7, responding to patients no matter what the time of day.
8. Allow for online appointment booking
To book an appointment with many dentists in the UK, patients still need to call the practice within business hours. Yet patients are using apps at all times of the night and day to perform tasks like checking into airline flights, calling an Uber and booking an appointment at the doctor. Dentists are leaving money on the table by not enabling patients to book appointments outside of business hours and they also risk losing patients altogether to dentists who do. This is particularly true for new patients who are experiencing your website for the first time.
Appointment booking functionality doesn’t always mean you have to rebuild your entire website. You can integrate practice management software or third-party solutions with this feature instead.
Over to you
Great dental website design in 2021 will bring to life online the customer experience that patients receive when they visit a dental practice. To do this effectively, the best dental websites will create frictionless user experiences, enabling patients to perform tasks they now take for granted on mainstream websites. For more information about dental marketing and the best ways that you can ‘market smart’ check out this new ebook on the Ultimate Guide to Dental Marketing in 2021.
Guide to Dental Marketing
A Guide for Dental Practices