When we begin work on a clients’ dental websites, we always start with the architecture of the website pages – the content outline. And right there, as the first navigation item, you might expect to find the word “HOME.” Clearly this isn’t home as we all know it, the cozy warm place you go to retreat from the world – this is your landing page, the first page visitors land on. The homepage is just a starting point, and the goal of any great homepage is to motivate the user to continue browsing your dental site. Your visitors have already been to the homepage, so why would you want the first link to take them there again? A “Home” button simply serves as a reminder of where they have been.
Helping visitors navigate dental websites effectively
We all know that people read left to right and top to bottom – at least in Western culture. It seems to have become part of our makeup. That means, logically speaking, if a visitor lands on the homepage and the navigation is ordered by importance, it should facilitate their visit by guiding them on to services or a new patient information webpage.
Some dentists worry their patients will get lost if they land on a page other than the homepage, but that may be giving your visitors too little credit. The truth is, most people know that clicking the logo will return them to the homepage. By now this is intuitive to almost any web user. And if they don’t click on the logo, they will click on the back button.
It’s all about conversion
The homepage shouldn’t say anything that the rest of the website doesn’t say. There is no need for visitors to keep going back home. Your visitors aren’t teenagers. You don’t need to make them a meal and do their laundry. You need to make them want what you are offering. Keep them moving through and out the door of your website… and running toward a phone to make an appointment!
The goal of any dental website is to turn users into patients
Great dental websites, like the ones we develop, take into account conversion funnels that lead the user into picking up the phone and making a call or filling out the contact form. Usually a conversion funnel includes building awareness, interest, desire and action. Action doesn’t mean going back home! Sending them back to the homepage doesn’t create conversion, since it’s basically like starting them over.
So should I have it or not?
When building a website, creating a sense of place is important. What does this mean? Obviously, you don’t want your visitors to feel lost. But letting the user know where they are all the time can be accomplished quite easily by:
highlighting the visitor’s location on the menu
adding clear and concise headlines
using encouraging colors
employing breadcrumbs (a type of secondary navigation, that, just like in the Hansel and Gretel story, guides users back to their original landing point.)
Doesn’t that sound more logical than encouraging visitors to start from zero every time?
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