Website Ideas and Info
Ideas for building and updating your website
We want your clinic to attract and keep clients. A great website does just that. To help make your website rock, we've listed some ideas and tips for building and updating your website.
Webpages: The building blocks of your website. Webpages should help (potential) new clients get to know you and answer questions they're likely to have. Here's a list of some of the webpages you may want to include (and the questions that they answer):
- About Us (who are you?): A overview of your clinic
- Clinic History (what's your story?): Often combined with About Us. Clients love to know where you came from
- Staff (who's there?): Sometimes just the vets, sometimes everyone - it all depends on how big you are
- Services (what do you offer?): The services you offer. This may be several pages (e.g. one per service)
- News (what's new?): News about or relevant to your clinic and clients
- Procedures (what are you going to do to Fluffy?): Information about the various procedures performed (e.g. castrations, vaccinations, etc.; typically one page per procedure)
- Medical Conditions (what's Fluffy got?): Descriptions of common medical conditions in client-friendly terms (e.g. diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc.; typically one page per condition)
- Links (who do you recommend?): Relevant links for your clients
- Contact (how do we get a hold of you?): Your clinic's contact information
- Location (where are you?): Often combined with Contact Us; usually includes a map and/or directions to your clinic
Content (what's written on the page) is the heart of your website. Good content makes a good website. Bad content makes visitors turn and run. Since people skim-read online, vet school -like essays don't fly (no 1500 word minimums here!). Here are some good rules-of-thumb for web content:
- Keep sentences short and to the point: People will skip long, meandering sentences
- Keep paragraphs short: 3 sentences is the ideal length for paragraphs on the Internet
- Keep pages relatively short: Break a long page into multiple shorter pages
- Use headings and sub-headings: These break up your content into sections, making it easier to read
- Use bulleted lists: When several points are being made consecutively, bullets are easier to read
- Bold important points: If there's a particularly important statement within a paragraph, bold it (go easy though - bolding everything defeats the purpose)
- Consider images: Think about images that may highlight your point
Writing your content in this style will both increase its readability for your web site's users and for search engines.
A picture is worth a thousand words. That old adage is especially true on the Internet, since people tend to skim written content. A relevant picture can grab a visitor. Here are some things to consider when selecting images for a page:
- Don't use too many: Often one image is more powerful than several scattered throughout the page. Fewer images also give a clean, professional look
- Keep it mild: Pictures of surgery, for instance, are fascinating to us, but many clients find them too graphic
- Some pages don't need images: If the page is obviously not suited to an image, simply don't use one
- Images don't have to be photographs: Sometimes diagrams and drawings do a better job of illustrating a point
- Make sure you own the rights: Don't grab images off the Internet for your web site; you may run into copyright trouble
Don't worry if you don't have that perfect photograph. Just be creative, and consider the best image for the page. When your web site is being built, missing images can be sourced easily.
Taking pictures for your website can be fun. To really make them stand out, try the following:
- Consider the composition:
- What's in the background? If the background is cluttered, move the location or the camera to create a clean background for your picture
- Focus on your subject: Be sure your camera focuses on the subject of the picture
- Take several shots: With digital photography, you can afford to take several shots in case one's blurry
- Try shooting from unique angles: This adds visual interest to your pictures that will grab people's attention
- Turn off the flash: Often shots taken in natural light look better. Keep the camera very still for these shots - they take longer to expose (maybe don't try this right after your 4th coffee)
- Use the rule of thirds: Place your subject on a point 1/3 the distance from the edge of the shot (horizontally or vertically or both). This creates a much more interesting picture than the usual centred shot
- Use a high resolution: This allows the picture to be cropped, which means you don't have to zoom in as close, reducing blur and pixelation
- Get a good camera: The better the camera, the better the shots (we know your iPhone is good, but a real camera will do better)
- Consider a tripod: A tripod keeps the camera still and level, both of which create better pictures
- Turn on the lights: rather than use a flash, try turning on all the lights and opening window coverings to give more natural light
Got other ideas? Let us know!
Your Website's Reason for Being
What's the Point?
What's the point? In other words, why should you bother with a veterinary website? What's it going to do for your clinic? How will you know? These are questions that aren't asked enough with veterinary websites...
Word of Mouth Referrals
Your veterinary website supports your clinic's word-of-mouth referrals and brings new clients to your clinic. That's the point.
For clients looking for a new veterinarian, the first impression of your clinic is it's website (either directly from word-of-mouth referrals or by Googling).
Consider your website from the perspective of potential new clients - what will make them choose your clinic instead of the one down the street?
Keep this in mind when building and updating your website, and your clinic will shine online.