When you’re running a busy veterinary clinic, it’s easy to justify cutting corners with your visual marketing strategy. Tempting as it may be to simply post a few cute animal photos on your website and call it a day, doing so could leave you barking up the wrong tree. Image matters, and graphic design is a lot more complex and rewarding than you might think!
But let’s face it – as a veterinarian who spent the better part of a decade studying animal medicine, you probably don’t have the time, nor desire, to get schooled in all things web design. That’s why we decided to bring you the crash-course version instead.
After sitting down with our LifeLearn marketing team’s graphic design expert, Jennifer Boergers, we compiled some must-read advice on how to approach visual marketing at your practice.
So, want to enhance the look of your veterinary website, blog, and social? Check out these five tips for getting started with design, and you’ll be well on your way to creating professional results that can help you attract new clients and connect with the regulars.
#1: Simplify everything
When it comes to designing your veterinary website, functionality always trumps fashion. According to Jennifer, “Content is king, so cluttering your website with ‘decoration’ to fill white space takes away from your content.”
As a veterinarian, one of your primary roles is to educate and inform pet owners, so that deeply rooted desire to fill every blank space with information is understandable. Unfortunately, it may not be productive. Too much content can be overwhelming for clients, both current and future.
The solution is as easy as simplifying your navigation and organizing the roadmap for your content in a way that encourages ease of reading. This means reducing the number of options and links on your homepage to emphasize the most important information. When a site is difficult to navigate, pet owners may get lost when trying to locate specific information. Illogical, busy navigational designs encourage clients to seek information elsewhere, like from the dreaded Dr. Google.
Be intentional about everything you include within your content. All text, images and graphic elements should be relevant, speak the same message, and reiterate key information you want the reader to remember. When your design is simple, your message is clear.
#2: Balance is key
“Keeping things simple doesn’t mean your site has to be boring,” Jennifer advises. Sure, you want to inform pet owners as much as possible, but large blocks of text can make a website look cluttered, imposing, and yes, kind of boring.
That’s why it’s important to find a balance, using images to break down large bodies of text and entice pet owners to keep reading. Engaged pet owners bring a higher likelihood of forging a connection and either gaining a new client or keeping an old one. Plus, “adding imagery alongside important information draws attention to that information,” says Jennifer, and enables you to emphasize the takeaway message.
Still wondering what makes for the perfect balance? While there’s no magic number for that always-perfect text-to-image ratio, you can tell by skimming most content where the images should go. Many of the places where your attention wavers could be prime real estate for a great image.
#3: Optimize images
No matter how great your graphics are, if they take too long to load, it’s likely the pet owner won’t stick around long enough to see them. As this Google study shows, we need to engage clients within a “micro-moment,” and efficiently provide whatever information they are looking for, or else risk losing their attention – and ultimately, their business.
“When adding images to your website, be sure that they are the right size,” suggests Jennifer. Try to stick to 72 ppi maximum, and use the correct pixel height and width for the location you’re posting it to. The specific dimensions will change depending on the type of image you’re creating.
Since 91% of smartphone users rely on their mobile devices to find information, it’s also essential for all your veterinary content to be optimized for mobile. Try to compress your images for speedy load times on all screens, without taking it too far and making the images look pixelated.
Using a free tool like Tiny PNG or Optimizilla can help you easily compress images while maintaining the image quality, if you’re not keen on Photoshop or other graphic design software.
It can also help to save images as PNG files to shrink them, and to avoid images with large spans of red, which tend to load more slowly.
Tip: “Another great way to keep your site running smoothly is to use live text whenever possible,” says Jennifer. “Text is tiny and loads quickly, so people are far more likely to stay on a site if they see that it is loading, even if some elements – like images – take a few seconds longer.”
#4: Find and follow a color palette
Choosing a color palette is a great way to create variety and build a more interesting design for your veterinary website, without breaking your brand guidelines. It also allows you to maintain a consistent delivery of color, which creates a more professional look.
Jennifer recommends using “neutral colors that make your company’s colors bolder, so they can stand out. If your company color is blue, using grays and even complimentary colors can make that blue really stand out!”
Keep in mind that “just because your company’s main color is blue, that doesn’t mean everything has to be blue!”
That said, be sure to avoid choosing color combinations that are a bit too full-on, like the seasonal red and green web designs of the ‘90s. These tend to be far too difficult to read!
If you have a base color that you want to work with, but aren’t sure what other colors to include in a complementary palette, try using a tool like Kuler or this Color Calculator to upgrade the look of your online marketing.
#5: Don’t forget about typography
Typography is one of the most overlooked aspects of visual marketing, but it is extremely important! If your text is too hard to read, nobody will pay attention, and that really doesn’t work so well for client education, pet owner compliance, and the overall success of your practice.
Jennifer suggests that “type can be as effective as a big, bold image. Using fun fonts for big titles, especially on social and blog posts, is a great way to utilize type. Choosing an effective body copy typeface that is simple, clear, and easy to read can help legibility.”
Feel free to play with your typography a little to change things up and keep your content interesting. Adjusting the size and boldness of a font can break up heavy paragraphs to make it more appealing and, of course, to emphasize important points.
Whether you’re adding images to your blog, updating your website or posting on social, try these five design tricks. They can help you streamline your way to a stronger, more lucrative veterinary practice.
Save time and skip the guesswork of DIY web design by using a WebDVM website, and let us build the foundation with you!