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Issue: 63 - Mar 14, 2014
How Annoying is your Website?
By: Maureen Blaney Flietner
Mavourneen LLC/MBF Communications

Your website is your universal business card. It’s an invitation to potential clients to get to know you. Just how annoying do you want it to be?

A recent brief tour of random veterinary websites unleashed a Pandora’s box of stuff capable of getting on a visitor’s nerves.

Your limited marketing time may be concentrated on your Facebook page, Twitter account and other social media. But your website is still one place many potential clients visit when they search for the who, what, where, and when about you. Don’t forget about it.

Take the time - make the time - to check your website regularly. After all, the last thing in Pandora’s box was hope. So – with just a bit of regular attention -- every veterinary business should be able to have an inviting, informational website.

Here are 10 annoying features found in a quick search. Are they part of your site?

  1. Pages blank or not completed: Who launches a half-completed website? Apparently quite a few businesses. Does your menu offer such pages as “About Us” or “Services Offered” but they’re blank? More than one veterinary practice has forgotten its presentation to the world. In many instances, a website visitor can find the words “Profile Coming Soon!” “Enter interests here” or “Enter education here” for veterinarians and staff members who have been at a place for years.
  2. Text explaining how to use your website A site should not have to come with instructions for visitors. Make it user-friendly and easy to navigate. If part of the site is not yet operational, don’t put it out there. One website, for example, included an icon for scheduling appointments. Next to the icon was text explaining not to use the icon since appointments could not be scheduled from the website.
  3. Grammar and spelling errors: A professional business that takes itself seriously would take the time to check for grammar and spelling errors. Misspelled words may have visitors questioning if there are other communication errors in your business. Do you also improperly communicate instructions for medications?  
  4. Old “news”: You may want to remind people that, yes, your business was the one originally started by the most beloved veterinarian in town who passed away several years ago. But that’s old news. Many potential clients may not have even been aware of the previous owner. Tell your visitors what is going on now. If you want to include background information, make it secondary. In addition, keep other copy up to date. It’s not unusual to find websites with 2013 calendars or with services set to begin in 2012.
  5. A blog without any posts: A blog is a chance for a visitor to get to know you and your business. What impressions do you create when there is a blog without posts? That you just haven’t gotten to it? That you weren’t aware it was on your website? That you really don’t care? If you don’t have the time or ideas for regular posts, remove that portion of your site or hire a freelance writer. If you do have a blog with posts, don’t have the last post-dated years ago. A visitor may think that the business is closed. If your posts are “evergreen,” remove the date to keep the tips timeless. However, if you have timely news – welcoming a new staff member, saying good-bye to the office pet, or announcing the winning of an award - mention the date.
  6. Requiring that pop-ups be allowed: Check with your webmaster to make sure your site does not require that pop-ups be allowed. Many people choose to block pop-ups to avoid the endless advertising. Requiring that pop-ups be allowed to view your site could mean that parts of your site won’t show up. Why irritate visitors who want to learn more about you?
  7. Requiring visitors to register: No one wants more unwanted e-mails. That’s what visitors will fear if you require them to register before they can read beyond your homepage. Instead, offer them a way to get your posts sent to their inbox or invite them to sign up for your e-newsletter.
  8. “Tours” with one image: A “tour” with only one image? They are out there. Don’t include this feature if you can only find one image that gives a good representation of your business. Make the time to get good photos to show off your clean, welcoming and modern business. Take a hint from the real estate industry where its online tours of homes for sale give visitors a feel for a place before they arrive.   
  9. Too generic or too large of a header image: Those cute and often large images of baby animals at the top of your homepage are usually “awe-worthy” but do they really differentiate your business from your competitors? Consider using a photo of your building, your office, your lobby with staff members, the office pet. Perhaps you want to change the image quarterly to show your building or office through the seasons. Keep it a reasonable size so visitors don’t have to scroll a lot to get to your information.
  10. Unfriendly contact information: Since many phone books are going the way of the landline phone, people look for contact information online. Make it easy for potential clients. Don’t require them to fill out a form to contact or find you. Consider including your business name, address, phone and fax on every page.

Maureen Blaney Flietner, a fulltime freelancer for more than 14 years, offers writing, copy editing, and photo/graphics services. Visit her website at www.mbfcommunications.com