Practice manager Hannah Betts looks at considerations for updating or rebranding your website
As responsible practitioners, I believe that it is our obligation to ensure that our online presence offers a true representation of what both the industry and respective clinics offer so that we uphold the best in service and clinical excellence from the very first click.
Your website is usually the first place that your existing and potential patients will learn about you, so make it a reflection of your company’s ethos and values. This article aims to address the general importance of a website as a brand communication tool, specifically looking at rebranding your website to coincide with a clinic refresh or update.
A website could easily be considered as an additional (and arguably the most important) employee. Often the first point of contact for prospective patients, it’s important that the website accurately reflects your brand image and values. We are fortunate to work in a constantly evolving industry that actively embraces and champions technological advancements and innovations. Given the very nature of our industry, it is inevitable that our business will also change and grow alongside it. Although a website may work for you for a considerable number of years, it doesn’t mean that it should infinitely remain the same.
Reasons for rebranding your website may include (but are not necessarily limited to):
• Overall refresh: if the overall look of your business changes then it is a logical step for your website to be refreshed at the same time. This will ensure that your brand messages are consistently communicated.
• Technological advances: online appointment systems, increased retailing opportunities and the boom in social media and mobile device usage has garnered a need for websites to be mobile friendly. According to media company comScore, mobile devices now account for nearly two of every three minutes spent online,1 so it’s highly likely that prospective patients will be using their mobiles to conduct their initial research. In addition, video content is becoming increasingly important and with some statistics suggesting that embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%;2 it’s certainly worth the consideration.
• To create a competitive edge: professional aesthetic clinics can often bare similarities to their competitors and this may lead to prospective patients missing your unique selling points (USPs). Therefore, rebranding your website can reinforce individuality and create a competitive edge.
• To reflect a change in the services that you offer: if you change the type of treatments that you offer or decide to specialise in a certain category of aesthetics, then you may want to change your website to reflect this. This can be done by re-organising your navigation categories, by changing your page layout or adding extra pages to an existing layout to help give the user clear options of what is on offer.
Whatever the reasons for rebranding your website, it’s important to not lose sight of your identity and to ensure that your tone of voice remains professional and inviting. Communicating changes to your clinic team and patients can be a challenging aspect of any rebrand process, but is essential to ensure that you do not lose custom. An example would be to update your customers through the use of emails and social media. It is always a good idea to plan ahead and if there is any chance that the website would be down, schedule this during a less popular time, such as late in the evening or first thing in the morning.
In order for you to fill the above requirements, you will more than likely need to find a partner to assist you. Whilst some clinics may employ someone in-house to do this, it is rare and the majority will outsource the work to a specialised agency. However, before you choose the right partner, you must decide what you want from your website. Spending time thinking about the appearance, usability and accessibility is crucial. This will help when both researching potential partners and compiling a brief to ensure that your needs are met and that you achieve the outcome that you want. Specific considerations include:
• Appearance: a visually appealing, polished and professional website is key to creating the right first impressions. Ensure that text is easy to read, the colours used are consistent with your brand and that images are of high-quality.
• Content: engaging content that is well written, informative, engaging and up-to date is essential. This will help to build trust in your clinic from the outset. In my experience, a combination of informative content, explaining the procedures in full, mixed with legitimate reviews and video content that is easy to access, has the lowest bounce rate meaning users spend more time on the page.
• Functionality: your website should work quickly and correctly so make sure time is spent testing its functionality before going live. Poorly constructed components will simply direct potential patients elsewhere. From contact forms and online booking facilities to site search, everything should work 100% as expected.
• Usability: similarly, good website usability is essential for ensuring that both existing and potential patients can use the site problem free. It should be easy to navigate with clear call-to-actions throughout.
• Search engine optimisation (SEO): ensure that your website can be found efficiently. I would advise that you work closely with an SEO agency to ensure that the best digital practices are used when developing content and changing any layout to the site. This can include the incorporation of videos, editorial pieces or more technical things such as conversion rate optimisation with placement of phone numbers and contact forms.
• GDPR compliance: as with other aspects of your business, if you manage patient records via your website then it’s essential that the latest General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation is adhered to.3
By deciding the above and creating a list of requirements, you will consequently be able to research potential partners. It is important here that you can do some of these things yourself, like writing and uploading content for example, but without appropriate coding knowledge for example, you will probably need to hire someone to do this for you.
You should ask yourself a number of questions when going through this process which will help determine whether they are right for your business needs. I’d firstly recommend you check that any prospective partner has designed and built websites that will at the very least meet (and ideally exceed) your expectations. Have they worked with similar businesses as this can be advantageous in terms of them understanding certain terminology and what customers might want? Don’t discount those that don’t have these credentials though, as they may bring a fresh approach and new ideas to help you stand out from your competitors.
You should also talk to current and former clients of any potential partners and ask them for their honest opinions. Are they easy to work with and do they possess effective project management and communication skills? Word of mouth is a great way of finding and deciding partners.
As well as this, honest two-way communication is essential for building a fruitful working relationship that will garner the best results for your business. Ask about how they like to communicate progress and agree decisions, and ensure that this suits the way in which you like to work. Our current agency uses a collaboration and organisational online tool to help us manage work flow with them, prioritise issues and help ensure all things are on record. It is helpful to choose a partner that has the ability to listen, as well as provide counsel, so that all of your opinions are given consideration.
Budget is also a huge consideration when outsourcing website design, be realistic with your budget and ensure that you take all cost elements into consideration. Costs will
vary dramatically between a website being designed, built and tested from scratch to an existing site that has minimal updates. A well designed and executed website can bring significant return on investment so take this into account when deciding your project fees and budget.
Lastly, what are the timescales? It’s important to establish clear timescales of when the project can start, how long it will take and whether this fits with your deadlines. Websites take a certain amount of time to plan, build and test properly, so ensure that you find out how long this will realistically take. In my experience, this is generally based on the size of website needed and its functionality required; if it is an ecommerce site, this will take longer as the content is much more substantial. In comparison, a website with a few treatments and a contact form is slightly more basic and therefore needs less time for layout planning and building. This will also be reflected in the cost of the build.
The importance of a website as a brand communication tool should not be underestimated and websites should regularly be reviewed and updated to reflect ongoing advancements in both the aesthetic and digital industries. Before embarking on a website rebrand, it is important to consider the needs of existing and potential patients, and that outstanding customer service and standards of excellence are clearly communicated and maintained. Researching any potential partners thoroughly is key to securing a successful return on investment.
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