Say no to phone books and yes to mobile-friendly websites

When was the last time you picked up a phone book or checked the yellow pages for a product or service? I’d venture to guess you haven’t done this in the last few years, or ever if you’re a millennial or younger. Whether you don’t use a phone book, what makes you think your patients are?

Telephone directories: a thing of the past

Let’s step into the late 1800s. Imagine not having indoor plumbing, electricity, or the technological advancements and conveniences of today. People got recommendations by talking to their neighbors. Communication with anyone further away than the local town was by mail.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented a telephone.1 Soon after, telephone operators (often teenage girls because boys were considered too unruly) were hired to route calls through the public telephone system.2 Imagine picking up the phone, dialing “0” and asking the “hello girl” to forward your call to your dentist, doctor or friend.

The first telephone directory came out in 1878.3 A sheet of cardboard with the names of individuals and businesses that had telephones was nothing like the two-inch-thick yellow pages we have seen in modern times.


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Fast forward to January 1, 1983, the Internet’s official birthday.4 Before that, computer networks could not communicate with each other. By the mid-1990s, the World Wide Web (the Internet as we know it) was up and running, allowing people around the world to communicate instantly through messaging sites, email, video chats, and more. Advancements in technology, such as smartphones and tablets, and the rise of the Internet have forever changed the way people communicate, research, read the news, and even find their dental providers.

Break away from phone books

The internet has changed marketing strategies for all businesses, including dental offices. When using telephone directories or yellow pages, dentists had the option of simply listing their name and address or paying for a print ad in the book. Think about your life or your dental practice today. How long has it been since you used the yellow pages or a phone book?

But when was the last time you used your smartphone, iPad or computer to search for information? It’s time to break away from the exclusive use of print ads and yellow pages searches and embrace the internet and its mobile-friendly websites.

Get a mobile-friendly website

Nowadays, connecting with a dentist is more complex than simply asking the operator to dial the number. For patients, it’s as simple as searching for the dentist’s name or location. Once the Google My Business (GMB) listing or website appears, the patient can click to call the office right from the palm of their hand.

Sounds simple, right? It starts out simple – for the patients. It is as it should be. Dentists must be accessible to their patients. If you’re hard to reach, your GMB listing is out of date, or your website isn’t showing, patients will move on to the next dentist. So, your next step should be to develop a mobile-friendly and mobile-friendly website with search engine optimization (SEO) designed to attract new patients.

Why does your practice need a mobile-friendly website?

Do you want patients to find you and learn about your practice and all the great services you offer? All the marketing in the world means nothing if you don’t have a website. Patients will research you, and they will do so through your website, online profiles, and social media sites. No website means potentially losing new patients.

When a patient searches for a dentist, their website and GMB profile appear during the search. The GMB profile gives patients a bit of information, such as your hours, contact details, and reviews. It also directs them to your website. If you have a social media page, they can do the same by sharing social teasers about your practice. The goal is to direct patients to your website. Although these are valuable elements of marketing, your website is the crucial element. It allows patients to find out about you and then contact you or make an appointment.

What makes a website mobile-friendly?

The answer is in the name: a mobile-friendly website is usable on a mobile phone. This means that your content is playable on a desktop computer as well as on a phone. Patients can easily view your information, click on links, and navigate the website.

A website that is not optimized for mobile devices contains very small text. Users have to zoom in and out and scroll the whole page which makes it much more difficult to navigate and navigate the website. A mobile-friendly design is responsive, which means that as the screen size changes, the content also changes. Content adjusts to fit the screen legibly.

Your mobile-friendly website should be easy to scroll through and consume content. It should include:

  • Responsive and proportionate content
  • Simple navigation menus
  • Clearly displayed calls to action
  • Small blocks of text
  • A clear and simple font instead of fancy script text
  • A search bar for easy navigation
  • Limited use of pop-ups
  • Fast loading content

Half of online traffic comes from mobile devices.5 When patients click through to your website through your GMB profile or search results using their phone, what do they find? Is your website inviting and usable on a mobile phone or tablet?

What makes a website user-friendly?

Optimizing websites for user experience is a new trend. What is user experience and what does it mean for your website? While before there was a big push for SEO and keywords, there is also a focus on the usability of a website.

A user-friendly website will perform better and may improve your chances of success or converting potential patients. Not only does appearance matter (your website should look good), but the use and navigation of the website should be seamless. Having both will give you a leg up on your competition.

A website optimized for user experience should have:

  • Mobile compatibility
  • Strategically planned and original content
  • Well formatted content
  • The rapidity
  • Accessibility for all users
  • Efficient browsing
  • Internet browser compatibility
  • Usable forms and clear calls to action

Keep in mind that 42% of users leave poorly performing websites quickly.6 Is your website attracting patients or driving them away?

It’s time to live with the times. Unless you live alone in a cave, you have embraced electricity, indoor plumbing, and modern technology. It’s time to put away the phone books and their print advertisements. Update your website to be mobile-friendly and user-friendly and get ready to connect with more potential new patients.


Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the September 2022 print edition of Dental economy magazine. Dentists in North America can take advantage of a free print subscription. Register here.


References

  1. Morris J. History of the Telephone – ITPA. Independent Association of Telecommunications Pioneers. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://www.nationalitpa.com/history-of-telephone
  2. Daugherty G. The rise and fall of telephone operators. Story. August 2, 2021. https://www.history.com/news/rise-fall-telephone-switchboard-operators
  3. Eschner K. The first telephone directory had fifty listings and no numbers. Smithsonian Magazine. February 21, 2017. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/first-telephone-book-had-fifty-listings-and-no-numbers-180962173/
  4. Internet history. 2022 June 3. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet
  5. Clement J. Share of global mobile website traffic 2015-2021. Statistics, February 18, 2022. www.statista.com/statistics/277125/share-of-website-traffic-coming-from-mobile-devices
  6. Fitzgerald A. 25+ essential web design stats to know in 2022. June 3, 2022. HubSpot. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/web-design-stats-for-2020

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