What Do Dental Website Visitors Want?

newspaper above the foldEveryone has preferences for colors, layout, images, and the amount of text on a website’s homepage. While what YOU like is important, dentists should consider two equally important factors in website design and development. One, what patients want is important. Two, what Google wants is important.

So while a dental website should accurately reflect a dentist’s preferences, it must also appeal to potential patients and Google’s indexing spiders. During our marketing interviews with dentists, we find that the following questions arise regularly, so we’re providing answers. If you have questions about the following concerns or other issues, don’t hesitate to comment, text, email, or call us.

How important is placing all important information “above the fold?”
The phrase “above the fold” is from the newspaper industry. The most important headlines and story introductions were placed above the center horizontal fold, because that portion of the paper was displayed in newspaper stands. Items above the fold were seen first, so zinger headlines and interesting photos had to capture attention fast and compete with info on other papers.

The phrase “above the fold” entered the website industry a few years ago, and it gained significant popularity with marketing companies. However, with new options for interactivity, as well as mobile site design, “above the fold” is now as irrelevant as the old-fashioned, pulpy newspaper. Sure, important info needs to be at the top of your website, but that does not mean that items traditionally considered “below the fold” will be ignored.

Are big slideshows problematic?
Not at all. In fact, images are key to capturing interest in web visitors. Moving images do the job quite well. In the past, moving images on a website required a ton of code and a Flash file. All that code interfered with Google’s understanding of the website’s purpose and content. Today, however, we have short-code options for elements of motion. HTML5 and jQuery plugins don’t cause problems with Google indexing, but still capture a web visitor’s interest.

Don’t people hate to scroll down?
No. In the past, a moderate percentage of Internet users may have disliked the simple task of scrolling down to see everything on a web page. Today, that’s simply not the case. Everyone scrolls for email, on Facebook, and on websites. If your content keeps users engaged, they’ll scroll or click to acquire more information.

Why does the homepage need any text, when pictures can tell the story?
Search engine optimization. While photos are great for human interest, and they can be tagged with descriptive words for search, in truth, Google and other search engines rely on traditional body text to determine what a website is about and whether the site deserves high ranking in search results. If you want your website to rank high, it needs original, informative text on the homepage and interior pages.

How much text is appropriate?
The more the better. However, I recommend a bare minimum of 350 words on a page. Of course, 500 words are better, 750 are even better, and 1000-2000 are terrific. Remember, all content must be original. You will not do well on Google (or in court) if you use text found elsewhere online.

Does horizontal or vertical navigation do better?
I prefer horizontal text on the PC version of a web design. I think that horizontal page tabs are intuitive because browsers (Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari) are built this way. However, for mobile designs, on tablets, phones, and watches, a vertical dropdown menu offers optimal functionality and user experience (UX).

Will website visitors know where to click to find what they want?
This is where UX really comes into play. Work with a graphic designer who understands UX and is up to date with scientific research on user trends, in regards to website design. An experienced designer will prioritize elements on a website, then place the most important call-to-action elements in strategic places, where they’ll be seen by the most visitors.

About the Author: Jill Duty is COO and head nerd at MDPM Consulting. She keeps her graphic designers, developers, and SEO diagnostician on their toes – because she has a passion for making clients happy with their website results. To reach Jill, email [email protected].