Recently we were asked to quote on a website for a dentist, just across town from our Perth web design studio. Now this dentist already had a website which was ranking extremely well. In addition, the design of the website had been professionally put together. But despite being in the top five listings and attracting a significant amount of traffic, the amount of new business generated from the website was meagre.

I had a sense, very quickly as to what the problem was but needed to do further research to confirm. Through my research, I discovered that my client was not alone in his industry with the overwhelming theme for dental websites being one of cheesy smiles from all ages and flashy changing graphics.

From my point of view, many of the dentist websites simply came across as fake and full of stock photography. They left me feeling worried that if I went to see that dentist that I was dealing with somebody who was all about marketing and may not be the best dentist around – OUCH!.

The real underlying issue here is trust, or more to the point – a lack of it. You must understand that when you design a website you must make sure that you do everything you can to generate the maximum amount of trust from your prospective customers.

If the website generates trust, then it will give the customer the confidence required to commit to making a buying decision (In this instance – making an appointment). Now, what had gone wrong is that the web developers had focused more on trying to get across the fact that this dentist was technologically advanced by putting together a flashy website. More flash = more impressive: WRONG!. What the end result was, however, is that the website completely undermined trust in his services, because it gave the impression of an over sell and in the medical profession this is a definite no-no.

Interestingly, to back up this suspicion the dentist then told me a story about someone who was referred to him by a patient. “Go and see my dentist because he is excellent” was the referral from the existing patient. But before acting on the referral, the prospective patient, checked out the dentist’s website, which prompted him to ask his friend. “Are you sure about this guy?”.

What had happened is that the website had undermined the trust that had been set up by the friend of referral. Fortunately, in this instance, he had checked with his friend who told him to forget about the website and go and see the dentist. But how many other referrals were scared off by a website that appeared to oversell the person or service?

The lesson here is to make sure that when you are designing a website that you take into consideration, your specific target markets expectations about your industry and design to the psychology of that market and its expectations. Medical professionals should definitely not try to oversell themselves and be aware that an overuse of flash and stock photography can undermine trust and be detrimental to your business.

We subsequently found out that the client’s wife had hated his web site. Maybe next time he will listen to her.

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