Well, besides the fact that I DO need to get off my butt and start moving more (for my health), I’m not referring to exercise. I’m talking about mobile websites.
I suppose my impending suggestion (keep reading) to explore the notion of setting up a mobile-device-friendly website should be based on the assumption that you are beyond the stage of a marketing troglo-dentist and actually have a regular website for your practice. And, of course, it should be a PRODUCTIVE website. Otherwise, what’s the point of having one?
The question on the cell phone on the left should more precisely ask, “Can I easily view AND USE your website here?”
Although it should be self-evident, the ONLY reason to have any website is to channel productive patients into your practice. I could write a book about what makes for a successful traditional dental website (Oh wait! I did!). But, today’s blog post is about mobile-friendly websites.
You might have noticed a general trend in our culture. An odd head-down poor posture has become ubiquitous. They all appear laser-focused on something in their hands. Some won’t even pause in order to safely pilot a 4,000-lb projectile on wheels amongst their fellow human beings (don’t get me started on that!). “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (WTF) is it that demands their attention so? Please don’t use your cell phone (in any capacity) while driving!!!
Cell phones are now mostly “smart phones.” They are mini-computers with more computing capacity than the entire array of electronic behemoths that sent the Apollo missions to the moon. No kidding. And, if smart phone freaks could interface permanently with their devices via some bio-electronic implant or fusion, they surely would. In the meantime, they gaze into the little screens while performing amazing sleight-of-thumb(s). If they’re not texting their BFFs, they’re surfing the web.
The reality is that portable smart phones are increasingly used over desktops and laptops. Google is at their command any time, any place. And, whether they need directions to find a restaurant or find a new dentist, the chances of people using their smart phone is fairly good these days.
My current full-size website stats say, “Yep!”
According to the Google Analytics report on my primary website, about 15% of the 3,300 visitors used a mobile device in the last month. That’s almost 500 visitors viewing my regular website with a tiny screen. The problem: My website was created for a BIG screen. Nearly 500 people had to zoom in and scroll around to view the content of my website. And, if you’ve tried to do that, you’ll surely agree it’s a pain in the ass. A mobile site solves that issue with a minimalist approach. Think “Cliff’s Notes” version of your website.
The right stuff.
A mobile-friendly (small screen-friendly) website needs a few things to be “friendly.”
- Small files – fast downloads over slower cell networks. If it doesn’t show up SUPER-FAST, you’re dead.
- Fits into a small cell phone screen without having to scroll horizontally.
- Easy on the eyes – simple graphic design.
- Easy to use – navigation that is intuitive and easy to engage with fat fingers.
- Easy to read – too much text will likely get skipped on a mobile device. Mobile users want quick, easy, and to-the-point information. Edit your content down to its bare essence. Then do it some more.
- Have a link to your regular full-size website on every page.
I offer some images to support the need for a mobile-friendly version of your website.
First, a screenshot of my regular website as it would appear on a regular computer display.
Next is how that same full-size website might look on a phone. It becomes quickly obvious that viewing a full-size website on a mobile device can be cumbersome if not simply a pain in the ass. It’s all scrunched up. You would need to zoom in and scroll all over the place to view it. The bottom line: visitors probably won’t stay for long trying to zoom in and scroll around. Not good!
Now, here’s my new mobile site as it would appear on a phone. Bear in mind that this site is hot off the presses, and I have already started tweaking and re-writing the copy. I’ll be adding more images, as well. On the left is what a mobile visitor will see upon landing on my mobile site. On the right is the same page as the visitor scrolls down to the menu / navigation buttons. Very clean and easy!
Let’s click deeper and land on the Veneers page:
yourdomain.mobi vs. m.yourdomain.com
There are a couple ways to set up a mobile-friendly site. And, it is the subject of some debate. I’ll keep this as brief and non-technical as possible.
The first is to set up a separate website with its own .mobi address. It’s a completely separate and new website. The advantages are that search engines may automatically see them as “mobile-friendly” and give them preference to mobile searchers. Of course, this will cost a bit more, as you’ll need to register the .mobi domain and pay for hosting to create an entirely new site. Another possible advantage is brand congruency by using the .mobi variation of your full-size website: www.TheSameWebsiteName.mobi.
The second way is to create an “m” subdomain of your full size site. In this case the typical address for the mobile-friendly version of your site would be www.m.YourFullSizeSite.com. The advantage is that it will cost less. And, you (or your webmaster) will be able to access and control both versions “under one roof.”
Wait… there’s a third way… your mobile site can be set up in a sub-folder in your full-sized website directory. An example would be www.YourFullSizeSite.com/mobile. The same advantages apply as the m subdomain.
There are advocates and arguments for each way. I decided to go with a separate .mobi site after mulling it over. Your mileage may vary. Talk with your webmaster and decide which is best for you.
The art of redirection.
Another important thing to do once you have a mobile site is to insert code into your full-size site that detects mobile users and redirects them to your mobile site. So, when a smart phone user either enters the address to your full-size site, or clicks on a link that leads to it, he or she will be taken (redirected) to your mobile site for a better experience. Make sense? This is something your webmaster will do for you, unless you’re a crazy do-it-yourself-er like me.
Is this some sort of digital Rorschach inkblot test?
You may have seen these funny looking boxes in print advertising. They even appear on posters, signs, and the sides of buses. They’re called, “QR codes.” QR is short for “quick response.” Many smart phones have apps that can scan these codes. When scanned, the mobile user may immediately see text, a video, or connect to a website. Very cool! If you already have a QR scanner app in your phone, you can even scan the code below and watch what happens!
The potential for QR codes in all of your marketing efforts is nearly limitless. Off the top of my head:
- Any and all print ads you may be running.
- Office brochures.
- New patient welcome letters.
- Statements (if you do any billing).
- Business cards.
On the front door to your office.
- On the back of your SUV or car.
- On t-shirts… worn by all your staff at a health fair.
- Tattooed on your forehead. Well maybe not. Or… MAYBE? You can get QR code temporary tattoos! Hmmm…
- Or maybe I’ll start adding QR codes on my veneer cases!
Remember, it doesn’t have to take users to your website. It could be a Youtube video, too! Lots of ideas and potential!
Go mobile early and often.
I am admittedly new to the mobile website arena. But, at this point, I’d say VERY few dentists have dedicated mobile websites. I’d recommend getting on this train as soon as possible! Google gives longevity of regular websites some serious weight when it comes to SEO (search engine optimization). I suspect the same will be true for dedicated mobile websites when it comes to mobile searches. Don’t dilly-dally around and suffer from paralysis by analysis (said the pot). Get on this!
I want to thank the folks at New Patients, Inc. for lighting the fire under me about this and helping me make it happen. They are dental marketing brainiacs who don’t recommend anything without a crap-load of research and data to support it. For more info, click on mobile websites by New Patients Inc.
Stand by for future Dental Warrior reports on how this is working!