<a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/karinconroy?rel=author">Karin Conroy</a> is a Marketing Consultant and owner of <a href="http://www.conroyconsults.com/">Conroy Consults</a>. Karin has an MBA from the University of California and a background in design, creative direction, and marketing management. Follow her @karinconroy.

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5 Quick Tips For Website Improvement

5-tips-webdesign

Your website is continually evolving. It always needs updating, just like your dental office. There are always improvements you can make, things you can change, and features you can add, but the process can be cumbersome and just thinking about it can be exhausting.

So rather than trying to do a complete makeover, consider these five quick minor improvements for your site. It is amazing how a few small improvements can put you on the path to greater goals.

Use visual indicators:  Icons

Icons provide a great visual indicator of what to expect in the text to follow. Icons and/or titles are especially useful in areas with paragraphs of text where a heading and image can provide a visual pause. Dental practice website content can sometimes be boring for the reader;  you can use an icon to improve your audience engagement. To break up the complexity of language, be sure to use icons that coordinate with your website’s color scheme – the small details can make a major difference in your website’s overall appeal.

Use thumbnail images for your posts

Thumbnails make lists stand out more and images communicate faster than words. Content is more easily found when you use thumbnails, which allows your readers to quickly scan your page. Images break up the content and provide supporting emotion to your posts and are just another way to improve your overall user experience. As a side note, this requires that you have images in each post, which is another requirement in my book.  On WordPress, there is a simple setting for thumbnail displays.

Quick fix SEO ideas

I know there is an over-abundance of information on what you should be doing for SEO. To make it simple, check only a few things. To keep it fewer than five minutes, email your Webmaster the following questions:

  • Insert your site’s main keywords in the <TITLE> of your homepage
  • Insert your site’s main keywords in the <BODY> of your homepage
  • Confirm that your website’s robots.txt allows search engines to index the homepage
  • Confirm your website has a sitemap, and create and submit an XML Google Sitemap.

Use a favicon to set you apart

favicon

A favicon, is a small square icon associated with a particular website or webpage that shows up at the very top left corner of your screen as well as on your browser tabs.  It is also known as a shortcut icon, website icon, URL icon, or bookmark icon. Your brand will stand out with this minor detail.  A favicon makes it much easier to differentiate one page from another if you always have a number of open Internet windows.

To create a favicon, visit the Favicon generator.

Use a footer to work wonders

A footer greatly impacts your website with function and graphic design. A strong footer has great contrast to differentiate it from the main content.  The footer steers your attention toward the content within the footer when you use a drastically darker (or lighter) background color. It is important to use this space effectively by including items that can be quickly read. Contact information, address, sitemap, and main sections are often found in the footer. Other functional items such as RSS-feed, e-mail-subscription and tag clouds can be placed there too.

Some common elements you might consider for your footer include:

  • featured work or content
  • dental links (disclaimers, privacy policy, terms)
  • site map
  • newsletter signup form
  • search form
  • social media buttons
  • recent news or Tweets
  • tag cloud
  • summary of “about us” section
  • contact information and/or contact form
  • awards and commendations

For more ideas, a few examples of creative footers can be found here.

 

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Marketing 101: Be Unique to Make your Dental Practice Stand Out

dental-business-branding

Your brand is not just a logo – it is commonly defined as your customer’s experience with your dental office. A brand is what your customers think of you and IS a reflection of everything you do: the way you send emails, your website, your Tweets, how you describe your business, and the logo on your business cards. It’s a complex mixture of feelings and personalities that make your customers love your work.

Therefore, your first plan of action should be to make define the difference that makes your practice unique, then create your identity pieces to coordinate. Here are some specifics on how to accomplish a successful and unique brand.

Step One – Determining your Brand’s Identity

First you have to define your market position – the features of your office or services that makes you different – also known as your Unique Sales Position. What follows is to create pieces such as a logo, business cards, website, and other marketing materials that are representations of that position.

For example if your dental practice specializes in state of the art surgery, your website would seem more credible with images of a sleek and shiny dental tools and equipment. An image of a dental chair with a retro dental chair in an old school setting would be contradictory and create brand confusion for your potential clients.

Your dental practice will need a logo, tagline and color scheme to define its professional identity online. Fortunately there are some online resources that can help you do just that –

Kuler is a website that includes some beautiful color schemes that you can use to create your brand’s identity

Logo Pond has an impressive collection of logos. Click on the search option at the top right corner for immediate results and search for “dentist” for immediate results.

Step Two – Your Letterhead and Business Card

Once you have created an online identity for your brand, the next step would be to use certain resources to produce a physical expressions of your brand. You cannot afford to be cheap with your marketing, be sure to hire a professional designer – a professional designer will have a considerable amount of experience creating business cards so it is best that you hire their services instead of trying to design these items yourself. Your business card, like your online identity will be what your clients will associate your dental practice with. This in turn will have a bearing on your status as a professional service.

Offer your clients an elegant, thick letterhead, business cards, or appointment reminder cards that gives them a tactile experience of high quality and contrasts with all of the digital contact that is increasingly common.

Here are a few places to find inspiration for business cards:

  • Flickr Art of Business Card Pool and Inspiredology simply give you a pool of images of business cards.
  • Corporate Identity Designs and All Graphic Design have images of sets of cards, letterhead and envelopes to give you ideas of how to put it all together

Market your dental practice by investing in items that will help you express your unique position and be memorable. Spending time thinking abut your branding is a valuable exercise that can reveal and redefine your business to be best positioned to set your dental practice apart. It is never just the logo or business card and should always consider the overall customer experience you want to offer.

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