OK, what do tasers and Flash animation have in common? Both were invented with the best intentions, and both serve an important purpose. But with both, irresponsible or aggressive use is harmful.
On three separate occasions last week I found myself in conference with clients who were determined to use Flash to their detriment.
1. One wanted a Flash “splash page” mini commercial that would run before a visitor could access any part of the site.
2. The other presented with a site made entirely of Flash and could not understand why her site had no search engine rankings.
3. The third, enamored by a twinkling firefly effect wanted moving lights behind his text.
There are some fantastic examples of Flash out there, like the animated procedure tutorials. A little Flash on your home page can also go a long way, as long as it does not impede your visitors.
Here’s what I encourage any physicians, especially cosmetic and plastic surgeons, to consider before adding Flash to their web sites:
1. Your visitors came to your site for a reason, and it was not to watch a commercial;
2. Search engines still struggle to see text inside of Flash movies, so Flash sites rank poorly; and
3. Flash is just as likely to distract as attract. Continuous movement on a page impedes reading.
So before you move to “stun” visitors with the bells and whistles, step away from the Flash and carefully consider your next move.
What to have on your web site:
Make sure that your web site is designed with the priorities of your practice in mind. These priorities should be a key focus of your design and accentuated to be easily viewed by your audience.
Different ideas and components should be separated on your site with boxes, colors or lines for different elements of your practice. There needs to be a clear distinction between the differing ideas you are attempting to express in your web site.
“Call to action”:
This is a clear directive given by you to encourage your audience to take immediate action. It is often displayed as an icon or form, photo gallery or blog. Instead of having a link that says “contact us”, you can entice viewers with something more proactive, such as “Click here for a free consultation.” By doing so, you are inviting the viewer to contact you immediately so that they can get started at their earliest convenience, thereby helping to speed the process of building up your clientele. Providing perks, such as free consultations, can often help viewers decide to pursue your practice.
Areas on your web site that are most important to your practice should be spotlighted. In determining the priorities of your practice, the most important aspects should be highlighted so that the viewer knows what services your practice provides.
If your practice is in medicine, try to build a web site that is clean and crisp with bright colors. Use secondary colors to show areas that can be clicked on. If the design appears too cluttered and messy, it may send the wrong message about your practice to potential clients.
These components should be avoided since they may be deemed as a turn off by your specific audience:
People have their own opinions as to the type of music that they find enjoyable. For some, listening to music when they view a web site can be considered annoying. People may also research your practice while they are at work where it may be an inappropriate time to listen to music. Music can be an effective feature on movie web sites, since the soundtrack is often what makes a film so spectacular but for practice web sites, information is key.
Splash Page/Enter Site:
Years ago this was a popular style used for most web sites. Now, it is not only an extra click of the mouse, but lacks the links that search engines love. You only have a limited time to grab your visitors and bring them into your site. The goal, in designing your site, is to make sure that what your visitors came to the site for is on the first page. Eliminating the splash page help keep viewers captivated by what your site has to offer for a longer period of time.
Different web technologies and design styles have come and gone over the course of time; some proving to be timeless and others leaving the scene as quickly as they arrived. It is important to recognize that the styles that are no longer considered ideal were perhaps not used appropriately by practices and businesses, thus turning off their respective audiences.
In order to maintain a functional and current web site, you should balance classic design techniques with the latest web site technology. Your visitor should be able to navigate your web site with ease and be conveniently guided to the priorities and defining characteristics of your practice. By highlighting these components, viewers are more likely to contact you to schedule an appointment or seek out additional information. Remembering these simple tips and suggestions, to improve the overall appearance, functionality and presentation of your web site will help keep your site current and refreshed for your general audience of web viewers.