February 2014, Volume 10, Issue 2
Published by AEGIS Communications
A New Option for Practice Websites
Hosted websites give dentists an affordable and impactful digital presence
The Internet has radically changed the way the world does business. The reality is that a practice website is no longer a luxury. Like a business card for the 21st century, it is a necessity. The good news is that getting a professional website is more affordable and easier than ever.
Learning from the Past
As the Internet grows in popularity, dentists without a website are unknowingly losing patients to ones who have embraced the new standard.
Simply having a practice website is not quite enough, however. Like any other marketing tool, the practice website has one simple and crucial task: to attract patients and referrals.
Sadly, many dentists’ websites fail completely in this important task. The most pervasive reason for this failure is simply that most dentists’ websites are outdated, both visually and functionally. These “orphaned” sites are typically several years old and have an unattractive overall design with information that hasn’t been updated in months or years.
The majority of dentists are disappointed with the number of patients their own websites generate. Many of these websites fail to even pay for themselves, much less attract a steady flow of new patients to the practice. Thanks to recent advances, it is now possible to get a modern website that looks fabulous, educates patients, and ultimately brings a steady flow of new appointments—and does all of those things rather affordably.
It used to be that if you wanted to build a website for your practice, your only choice was to hire a designer. Websites have been out of financial reach for many dentists and other small business owners, with set-up fees usually costing at least $2,000. Fortunately for dentists everywhere, times have changed. A profound transformation has taken place, yielding a new option called a “hosted website.”
The New Standard
A hosted website is the fastest and most affordable way to build a dental practice website. Here are the key differences between a hosted website and a traditional web designer.
For a decent website, a traditional designer is likely to charge anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 in initial design fees. Then, once the site is finished, there is a monthly hosting fee of $10 to $20. In addition, to make any changes to the website, the designer will charge a maintenance fee, which usually runs between $50 to $100 per hour.
A hosted website cuts costs significantly by combining all three elements—the design, hosting, and maintenance—into a single monthly payment. This monthly payment ranges from $20 to $60, making it a reasonable investment for almost any dentist.
Most dentists naturally place a high value on their time, because their income is directly attached to it. Because traditional websites are built from scratch, they usually take between 1 to 3 months to build. During this time, the dentist and the designer are engaged in a time-consuming “back and forth” process to get every page of the site looking right and working correctly.
With a hosted website, dentists can save weeks of painstaking work by simply choosing their design from a library of pre-built templates. This system is what makes it possible for a dentist to have an attractive website up and running in less than 1 hour.
Every website requires occasional maintenance. For example, whenever dentists change their address or their prices, the new information needs to be posted on their website to keep it current. Traditional web designers charge for these services by the hour, at a typical rate of $50 to $100 per hour. In addition to this expense, the dentist must also wait for the designer to make these changes.
A hosted website has no maintenance fees. Changes are also made in minutes instead of days. This is because a hosted website comes equipped with a control panel that empowers dentists to update their own websites themselves whenever they choose. This breakthrough puts control of the website into the hands of the dentist.
In addition to giving basic information, there are hosted website providers that offer specialized tools to help dentists run more effective practices. These include the ability to accept credit card payments, an online feature that enables patients to easily request an appointment, or an email newsletter that keeps dentists personally in touch with their patients on a monthly basis. Most of these tools are easy to use and make a notable difference in the number of appointments the website attracts.
Making the Right Decision
Fortunately, having a hosted website built for a practice is simple. There are several companies that build sites exclusively for dentists. These companies offer a variety of dental-focused design templates, as well as special tools to help clinicians run their practices more effectively.
Every company—like every dentist—has different strengths and weaknesses. It’s the responsibility of individual dentists to determine what is most important to them, and then find a company that matches their values.
Here are the key issues to consider in making this decision:
Design quality—Some design templates may be more attractive and patient-friendly than others.
Price—Prices range from $20 to $60 per month. Companies with higher prices may offer more appealing designs and stronger features, and potentially a stronger return on your investment.
Ease of use—Some systems are much more intuitive and easy to use than others.
Technical support—There is a wide range of quality when it comes to technical support for hosted website companies. Some companies provide support by telephone as well as email.
Investing in a website is an important decision for a dental practice. Once the decision is made to move forward, it can take as little as 20 minutes to get the new website up and running. The ultimate result is being able to respond “yes” confidently when potential patients ask if there is a practice website.
About the Author
Sara Sims is the director of business development at DentistSites.com, which provides website marketing and business solutions for dentists at www.DentistSites.com.