Tip 1. Choosing a color scheme
The first challenge is actually picking a color scheme. Rather than just adding any colors you like to your graphic, try to be deliberate about what colors you’re using and how they work together. A color scheme is an important way to create cohesion in your design, and even across all your designs. If you use the same color scheme repeatedly, you’ll actually create recognition, where clients can tell that a graphic comes from your practice, based solely on the familiar color scheme.
So how do you choose a color scheme? There is no set way: you have several different options. However, one of the keys to a good color scheme is to keep it simple. Too many colors can overwhelm the viewer, look ugly, or compete for attention. Professional designers can create beautiful designs from a large range of colors, like this one. But that takes skill and practice. The best rule of thumb for beginners is to pick no more than 1-3 primary colors to base your design around. These colors do not include the neutral tones of black, white, and gray, but consist of any other colors. I personally try to stick to no more than two colors in a scheme; even three seems like a bit much for my amateur eye. You can decide for yourself what you find most manageable, but this rule of thumb will help keep your designs looking clean and attractive.
Tip 2. Using tones, tints, and shades
You might feel limited by the 1-3 colors rule, but you don’t have to be. The colors are the base, but you can use different shades, tones, and tints of the same color to create variety. For example, I used a single color (plus white) for this graphic, but by using different shades of the same purple, I was still able to create variety and contrast.
Tip 3. Picking colors
The colors you pick are entirely up to you. You might choose colors based on your current practice logo or your practice website’s color scheme. If you’re creating a seasonal design, you might be inclined to select colors for that season, such as red and green for the holidays. If you’re like me and you find it challenging to select colors that look good together, try a tool like Adobe Kuler, where people create and share their own color schemes.
Tip 4. Using an eye dropper
One excellent tool that I use on a regular basis for designs is a browser eye dropper. My browser of choice is Google Chrome, and this is my go-to browser eye dropper. It allows me to hover over any part of a web page or image and discover the information necessary to replicate that color exactly. You can use the eyedropper to select colors you really like from any web page, or if you’re using a picture in your design, you may want to choose colors that are featured prominently in that image.
Tip 5. Limiting the number of fonts
I understand the temptation to use a lot of fonts. With so many beautiful fonts to choose from, how can you possibly just pick one? But if you take a look at most popular and functional designs, they consistently use only one or two fonts, with perhaps an accent font for a headline. The reality is that too many fonts can hinder the legibility, and even the attractiveness, of your design.
Tip 6. Using formatting to create variety
If you do want to accentuate or make certain words stand out, consider altering the font instead of changing it completely. For example, in the water balloon design, I only used two fonts, but I bolded the Open Sans font for the “June 29, from 6-8pm” copy, and I italicized it for the “Balloons and water provided” text. Keep your design looking cohesive while also creating variety and emphasis by changing the formatting of the fonts you already have.
Tip 7. 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.
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.
Contrast is a striking difference between or the juxtaposition of two elements. Colors are frequently used to create contrast, but different shapes or sizes can also create contrast in a design.
Tip 8. Contrast and text
Contrast is used to ensure the legibility of text in designs. It’s essential to have high contrast between your text and your background, or you risk making your graphic too hard to read. My general rule of thumb is to place only white or black text on colorful backgrounds, to really ensure legibility.
Tip 9. Creating contrast using shapes
Another trick I used in the above graphic is one of my favorites – the shape trick. I may be guilty of overusing this, but I find that when text doesn’t show up clearly on an image, adding a shape of another color and placing the text over that shape creates a higher contrast and increases legibility.
Tip 10. Creating contrast using size
Another form of contrast is the contrast in size. By contrasting the size of images or text, you can draw attention to specific elements or text. For the information you most want to draw attention to, use larger and bolder text, and for more detailed info, use thinner and smaller text.
Tip 11. Aligning elements
This is probably my favorite guideline for designing. It’s quite simple, but it can make such a powerful difference in a design. Aligning objects and elements within a design with each other can make a graphic look much more organized and clean. Professional designers use alignment extensively, creating intricate grids that align all the elements on the page. This is probably too much for beginners like you and me.
Tip 12. Using grids
A really simple way to employ alignment to create better looking designs is through the use of grids. For example, when you place multiple images into a graphic, line them up in a grid to create a cleaner image.
Tip 13. Balance is key
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.
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.
FAQs about Vet Website Design & Vet Website Builder
Q: Do you specialize in veterinary websites?
A: This may seem like an obvious starting point, but with so many website design companies competing against each other, it’s easy to get distracted when “amazing” deals and flashy sales pitches start flying at you like free donuts. It’s even easier to get taken in by the assurance of someone saying, “Yes, we can design you a new website!” However, there’s a big difference between someone who knows about general website design and someone who combines this knowledge with proven expertise in delivering what veterinary clinics need to meet the specific needs of pet owners. To steer yourself toward the latter, ask, “Do you specialize in veterinary websites?” If they don’t, or if they’re willing to “take a shot at it” at the risk of your clinic’s profitability and reputation, you should likely move on.
Q: Why do I want the things you’re recommending for my website?
A: This question easily narrows down any list of candidates from the first question, and you’re looking for specific and unhesitant answers. Here’s why:
Even though some website companies may have experience designing for veterinary practices—including some success stories to back up their reputation—they may not know why something has worked. They’ve just found that it does, so they keep repeating the process. Yet blind repetition is not intelligence and can’t anticipate and respond to the needs of pet owners as they change. While a company may deliver you a website that initially draws pet owners, that same website may fall flat a few months down the road. To steer clear of this, ask why certain elements work, and listen for specifics. If you ask, for example, why clean and modern website designs are important, be wary of hesitant non-answers like, “They look good.” Listen instead for informed, clear answers like, “According to web-credibility research by Stanford University, 75% of people surveyed said they made judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website design.”
(This, by the way, is why modern website designs are important to veterinary practices in attracting and converting more clients.)
Q: Do you want to know my story?
A: It’s all well and good for a veterinary website designer to deliver something that’s clean, fresh, and functional. Yet such bells and whistles are the mechanical features of a website, and people first make emotional decisions about products or services. In fact, research by Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman found that 95% of purchase decisions take place in the subconscious (or, the realm of emotions). And that’s why you often hear the word “storytelling” connected to effective websites.
Since time immemorial, people have emotionally connected to others through the power of story, and your story likely isn’t that you got involved in veterinary medicine purely for the chance to look smashing in a stethoscope. The first reason that compelled you toward a life in veterinary medicine was likely a love of animals, and the tools were just the features, meaning you have a powerful emotional story that will attract and resonate with pet owners. So, ask a website service if they want to hear your story. Ask how they can shape that story in your website through key design features like responsive images, slideshow functionality and embedded video. These are key elements behind some of the most successful veterinary websites, and if some website service can’t offer them, or if they don’t understand the importance of story, find a website service that does understand.
Q: How Will More Pet Owners Find My Website?
A: This is a really important question. The growth of your practice relies on new clients, and with roughly 80% of people now using the internet to find any kind of product or service, your website’s ranking and discovery on Google hinges on the right search engine optimization (SEO) to be competitive. And if you haven’t looked into this particular aspect of your website today, you likely want to do this quickly.
According to research by Hubspot, 61% of businesses surveyed said that improving their SEO and growing their online presence in the immediate future was their top priority. Those businesses naturally include competing local veterinary practices, so SEO should be a central part of what a website service offers you, and the service should be ongoing.
Where Google ranking factors can change like the weather, you’d have to detract a fair amount of time from patient care on an ongoing basis to track and tweak your website’s SEO. Does a website service track your SEO for you? Do they give you simple but regular performance reports? Do they include tailored keywords that align with the most current search-engine algorithms—all to keep your website ranking high and keep it there? If not, you probably want to find a service that offers these essentials.
Q: How can I easily see how my website is performing?
A: This, of course, is the ultimate question. Analytics matter to the overall performance and ongoing success of a veterinarian website, and you shouldn’t have to rely on a website company to give you this information on a schedule that works for them. One of the most important features you can have in your website is easy access to your website usage statistics with a convenient Google Analytics widget.
Yes, shopping around and asking a lot of key questions can take some time and lead down some dead-end roads, and if that’s something that sounds less than thrilling, LifeLearn understands. That’s why we created LifeLearn WebDVM, the simple, hassle-free way to get all of the above quickly working for you.
Save time and skip the guesswork of DIY web design by using a WebDVM website, and let us build the foundation with you!