You’ve got your veterinary website up and running, and it looks pretty decent, if you do say so yourself. You’ve got all the necessary information included, and yeah, maybe it’s a bit old-school, but it isn’t a huge deal.
Maybe not, but when was the last time you checked your website’s vital signs? You should see traffic, and frequent engagement between pet owners and your content. If you’re not seeing many signs of life, it might be time to reconsider your approach.
It’s important to use design strategically to attract pet owners and keep ‘em coming back for more. Don’t worry, it’s simpler than you think—and we’ve got some industry know-how on all things web engagement.
So how can you keep pet owners engaged on your website? We talked to Dale Beech, web design and production manager at LifeLearn, and compiled a treasure trove of helpful hints to revitalize your veterinary website. Whether you’re new to the game or a well-seasoned veterinary web admin, you’ll love these easy-to-use timesavers for cultivating an awesome online presence for your practice.
Ready? Set? Go!
Clarity is a website’s best friend.
As dog is to mankind, clarity is to websites. Without clarity, websites cannot thrive. According to Dale, “The key to engaging your visitors is to offer them value in a clear, user-friendly, and visually appealing manner.”
The majority of pet owners visiting your website are looking for specific information, and they want answers quickly and accurately. Clarity is your biggest ally here, because it impacts everything from language and fonts to graphics and navigation. Your veterinary website should be easy and quick to read, with consistent fonts, image styles and more, to avoid looking sloppy and unprofessional.
“A confusing site is a frustrating site,” Dale advises, “and people just aren’t willing to be frustrated with a tool you’re using to earn their business.”
How can you simplify your website?
If you want to keep things simple on your veterinary website, you should start by making it easy to navigate. Dale suggests that you keep the primary navigation bar somewhere easy to find (like at the top of the page), and to organize each item into clickable, logical categories featuring only three to six of the most important pages.
“The best advice I can give to help improve your navigation is to make it clear, complete and consistent,” says Dale. That said, navigating your website on a desktop looks very different from browsing on mobile, so be sure to optimize your design on multiple screens to reach as many pet owners as you can.25789
Optimize for mobile users.
If your page doesn’t load properly or quickly on smartphones, pet owners will find their information elsewhere. With over 91% of smartphone users bound to their mobile screens for data, your website needs to be mobile-responsive to stay connected with a growing pet owner demographic of millennials.
“Having a site that responds well and looks great on mobile is only half the battle; it also needs to be user-friendly and effective,” Dale suggests. You can accomplish this by devising a separate design infrastructure to accommodate each viewing platform.
Consider the difference in browsing habits between mobile users and desktop users. When using mobile, pet owners are more likely to search for quick and easy information like your contact details, hours of operation and your location. A desktop user would have more flexibility to read and enjoy blog posts, team bios and the like.
“So why not feature both?” asks Dale. If each design is built to feature the most pertinent information, “it’s easy for clients to take action from which device they’re using.”
Not sure how to optimize your website for mobile? Every WebDVM website offers a customized mobile
design to keep pet owners engaged on their smartphones!
Cater to pet owners, not trends.
When it comes to web design, there’s never any shortage of industry trends vying for your attention with flashy new features and glossy appearances. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with these trends, it’s important to consider your audience first.
Before you pick the best design for your veterinary website, you must “understand the needs of pet owners—what they’re trying to do on your website—and define your objectives—what you’re trying to achieve with your website. By understanding these factors, you can tailor your site specifically to meet the needs of your clients, and objectives you’ve set,” says Dale.
For example, many visitors to a veterinary website may be looking to book an appointment for their pet, so you should make it really easy for them to do so by adding an appointment button, or your practice’s phone number, to your homepage.25790
How can you be sure what works?
The best way to discover what works best with your particular audience is to listen and learn. You’ll have to engage in a bit of trial and error. There are a variety of great analytics tools you can utilize to stay at the top of your game, allowing you to track trends relevant to your practice and make adjustments where necessary.
“Like any other marketing tool, your website should be evaluated regularly for what is and isn’t working, and adjusted accordingly,” says Dale. “The great thing about your website is that adjusting it should be relatively easy to do, and doesn’t require a thousand-copy re-print because you missed a typo, so don’t stress if it’s not perfect. You can and should be changing it, and adding content to it regularly.”
The online world is constantly changing, so you’ll need to curate your website in order to keep up with the industry as well as your clients.
The whole purpose of building a veterinary website is to engage with pet owners, but this is no “if you build it, they will come” scenario! If you want to get pet owners involved with your practice online, try making the first move. As Dale advises, “people love interacting with the person behind the curtain, so let them see the real you, and talk to them!”
That’s what makes a website so appealing—not just for business, but for the health, safety and well-being of pets everywhere. You can educate, update and communicate by showing the people behind your practice to keep pet owners engaged so they’ll visit your site (and clinic!) regularly.
One great way to keep pet owners coming back for more is to include an opt-in newsletter option on your website. This could be a pop-up when they land on your homepage or a sidebar. The point is that it invites pet owners to provide their email addresses to receive emails from your practice about upcoming news and events.
Together with your blog and social media, newsletters are a great way to build a loop of returning visits to your website.
Tip: WebDVM websites come with WebDVM Social built right in, which can help you set up newsletters and other communications easily and quickly.
Always add value.
“Good content is arguably the most important part of audience engagement with your website,” says Dale. When your content is awesome, it’s easier to build a website that pet owners can use as a resource whenever they have a question about their pets.
Aside from pleasing pet owners with your perfect prose, providing great content means you can set yourself up as a go-to resource for your clients. To reinforce your expertise, Dale says, it’s important to make sure that pet owners can find that great content.
Strategies like internal linking (including links to other content on your website whenever it’s relevant) can help direct pet owners to other content they may be interested in, but ideally, every page on your website should be accessible from some type of menu structure.Your mission is to ensure the health of pets—and your website’s mission is to be an extension of that core purpose. If you put these tips into practice to engage pet owners online and keep them involved for the long run, it is possible! When all of your content is clear, easy to navigate, and valuable to your clients, they will keep coming back for more—which is good for business, and pet health too.
Is your veterinary website lacking signs of life? Find out how a WebDVM website can help revive your online relationship with pet owners!