Building an Effective Website from Scratch

For most prospective clients, your website is their first glimpse into your practice. Beyond introducing you, your staff, and your facility, your website functions as a marketing tool, encouraging people to learn more and ultimately make an appointment.
VMD Staff
Published: February 28, 2017
For most prospective clients, your website is their first glimpse into your practice. Beyond introducing you, your staff, and your facility, your website functions as a marketing tool, encouraging people to learn more and ultimately make an appointment.
You’ve heard the saying, “first impressions are everything,” and it’s important to keep this in mind when you think about designing your website. If you’re not going to hire a web designer to build your site, many tools are available online. Fortunately, it isn’t too hard to build a simple, effective website on your own, but there are several things you must do to ensure your site is as impressive as possible.
Highlight who you are and what you do.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but how many times have you stumbled across a website and been unable to determine what the company actually does? Unfortunately, this is still somewhat common, even today.
Your website home page should feature your practice name front and center. Don’t leave anyone guessing that you’re a veterinarian. You want them to know it the second they see your home page. If you offer specialty services, be sure to highlight them. You want your home page to contain a brief, focused message including details about you and your team, your professional capabilities, and the easiest ways to contact you. There’s room to share more information on the other pages of your site.
Make navigation simple.
After you’ve created your homepage, it’s time to offer more detail on the other pages of your website. To make it easy for people to find the information they’re looking for, try to follow the “three click rule”—a person should be able to find the information they need within three clicks.
Keep your navigation menu consistent across all pages of your website. You might find it helpful to create a toolbar that appears across the top of each page, listing all the pages that a visitor can jump to in a single click. You can also link to specific pages of your site by creating hyperlinks to other pages within the body of your website text. The mechanisms you choose to enable visitors to move around your site are up to you, but navigation should be as easy as possible.
Keep it structured. 
Options are plenty when it comes to building your site from scratch, but try to keep it as structured and uncomplicated as possible. You want your site to be aesthetically pleasing while showcasing your practice. Think back to some poorly constructed websites you’ve seen. Did they have text boxes that didn’t line up properly? Were there pictures or gifs all over the place? Did the colors grab your attention only because they gave you a headache? These are all important considerations when nailing down the details of your site.
Regarding text, fonts like Arial and Veranda are generally easier to read online. Try to keep the size of your text around 14 or 16 pixels, and don’t use more than three different typefaces on a page. This helps keep your site design simple and streamlined.
When choosing colors, many healthcare professionals stick with a more neutral, open color scheme instead of bright, bold colors. You want to keep your prospective patient’s emotions in mind when choosing a color scheme. If you’re trying to portray a soothing office environment, for example, don’t choose “loud” colors like red or orange. Also, don’t overdo it by picking 10 different colors. The colors you choose should blend well together, and there’s no harm in using plenty of white space as filler to give your site a cleaner, more modern look.
Create content with your busy audience in mind.
Having some clinical information on your website can be very useful to pet owners looking for general pet health and wellness information, particularly when your practice is not open. This type of content serves as a great resource and can also attract new clients to your practice.
That said, keep in mind that people expect to be able to scan a page quickly to get the information they need. You should make it easy to scan your pages by using paragraph breaks, subheadings, bullet points, or images to break up large text blocks. Breaking up content makes it easier for an online audience to read, which can lead people to take action by calling you.
Keep your content short, simple, and relevant. Words matter, and so does the order you put them in.

If you’re not confident in your writing skills, hire a professional copywriter who can create content that will grab your reader’s attention. No one wants to read a huge wall of text where the author rambles, uses bad grammar, or doesn’t say anything the reader is interested in. If you want people to keep reading, then keep the message engaging.

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