How Are Patients Viewing Your Website?

Devices used.Utilize design techniques that get smartphone and tablet users into your practice.

Most ophthalmology sites are designed for desktop and laptop computers. But, do you really know what devices prospective patients are using when they view your website?

Figure 1: Fewer than half of visitors to Elective Medical Marketing’s clients’ sites use desktop or laptop computers. More frequently, they use smartphones and tablets together to access the practice sites.

It’s 2014 and we’ve crossed the mobile threshold. Fewer than 50% of our clients’ site visitors are sitting at a desktop computer when engaging with our practices (Figure 1). More prospective clients are now using smartphones and tablets. The best way to update a website today is to begin with appearance and functionality on a mobile phone, then upsize to tablets and end with the desktop-laptop site.

Have you evaluated your site’s appearance on these differing screen sizes?

Responsive Design

I’ll assign this month’s homework a little earlier in the column than usual: Pull out your smartphone or open a tablet. Type in your practice’s Web address. What impression does it make on these smaller screens? Has your entire site been miniaturized? Is the content readable without expanding?

Does the site appear truncated, with half or more of the homepage content out of view, requiring the user to swipe to find a phone number or address? Is your website using “responsive design” technology so content resizes automatically based on screen size, leaving images, contact information and type readable without further viewer manipulation?

Mobile Site Requirements

While responsive design is a hot topic in web development, we’ve found it might not be necessary yet for ophthalmology, as long as you have a functional, relevant mobile site. The best quality prospects visit your site by directly accessing your URL or through organic searches. As they sit at a desktop computer, they’ll look at almost three pages and spend less than three minutes on the site.

Time on site

More than half of visitors using a smartphone to access a website come from direct access or organic search, but they spend less than half the time of desktop users and look at half the pages. Why? They’re not looking for education on their phone; they’re looking for contact information. They need your phone number. They need your address. Taking rich content (such as videos and additional sections) from your desktop site and making them available on a mobile site is simply unnecessary.

Figure 2: An Elective Medical Marketing report shows prospective patients who use desktops and laptops to view a practice websites typically spend more time and visit more pages than those who use tablets and smartphones.

Review Google Analytics

Dive into Google Analytics and see how users interact with your site. Make sure your site has a mobile version that offers click-to-call capability and showcases location information prominently. The website can make educational content accessible on a smartphone, but you don’t need to feature it.

If you’re thinking of moving to responsive design, start from the premise that people will only give two minutes and three pages of their attention. If one page is an overview and one page is a call to action (calling or filling in a form), what’s the third element? Use this space to set yourself apart. However, respect that web viewing today is quick, mobile and instantly readable.

Sites that load well and convey information quickly on every device speak to your technological prowess and impress prospective customers. Make sure your online appearance makes the right impression.

By Kay Coulson, MBA, founder of Elective Medical Marketing, a Denver, CO-based consultancy focused on helping physicians grow their elective service lines. Originally published in Kay Ophthalmic Metrics column in Ophthalmology Management.