Hey all, a bit of a detour for something so heavily dental based: some IT post about mobile websites! I’ve been dying to post these type of posts for a while after running out of ideas recently on what to update (and also, xmas is coming out of now-where so things in ADA NSW and ADA federal is slowing down). So I’ve decided to do a bit of a detour and talk about web design, user interface design for mobile devices with a particular focus on dental related stuff.
Please note that I’m not a professional web designer, I’ve just done some summer school TAFE/Polytech during high school about the basics of photoshop, HTML and CSS coding, Dreamweaver and Flash (now Animate) coding. Most of the stuff which you see here are mainly from self learning and experience over the years which I developed my past website (such as as Studio Zero – headed by my best friend Chris who is an MIT graduate)
This article is intended to be a very simple overview about mobile design. I can write more specialist articles targeting specific elements of the design as time goes on.
Key points to cover:
- What is mobile design?
- What are the features of mobile design?
- Current trends in mobile design: responsive design (as compared to a completely separate mobile page vs desktop)
- Why is it important? proof in the worldwide statistics by Stat counter
- What can you do to your website in order to make it mobile optimized?
What is mobile design?
In summary mobile design is:
- Allowing a website to fit on any mobile device in order to allow the user to see the content with ease.
- Making your website with less taps, the ability to use one thumb and also one eyeball use (perfectly explained here in LukeW’s website with a youtube video)
- Making your website to be concise, simple to use, as most of your users using your website will be in a hurry (wanting to find information quickly)
- Making your website easy to use while the user is constantly distracted by their surroundings (mobile users use their mobile phones while walking, going out and travelling etc.)
- Optimize your website so that it loads fast when your users access your website. This is part of the reason why I strictly chose my servers to be located within Sydney.
- Designing your website from the very start to prioritize mobile interface compared to desktop (due to the limited real estate)
- Light on bandwidth – images that are optimized so that it won’t load too heavily on the mobile device as most people are using their cellular data to view your website.
What are the features of mobile design?
It’s easier to show it to you in screenshots so here we go, we’ll use the mobile default of my website to show it to you:
Most importantly, I can look at my own website, and literally use one hand and one eye and can still read the contents pretty clearly. That’s a good design in today’s modern, busy world.
LukeW has summarized it perfectly in this YouTube video sponsored by Intel:
In essence, responsive design is a website which will adapt the display of its content according the defined screen size. When the screen size (measured in pixels) start to shrink into a certain size the layout and the display of the content will change and adapt to the new size. This means that certain features will not load to save bandwidth, the typography may increase or decrease and images will shrink to fit into the mobile space. This allows your website to be very adaptable to new mobile devices and allow it to be cross platform compatible (aka, it allows your to future proof your website).
So why is mobile design important for dentists?
The importance is in the statistics, as kindly provided by StatCounter (a go to resource for global web usage trend): The main reason is that mobile websites currently as of November 2015 counts for around 35% of the total web browsing (still a large portion compared to 60% of all browsing done on the desktop)!
This is a large portion of users which you are neglecting to see your practice or your personal website! If you neglect your website which is optimized for mobile, you are missing out almost a 1/3 of your market! That’s a huge portion that shouldn’t be missed out if patients are looking for a dental clinic and a mobile friendly website pops up (compared to an un-optimized desktop version). In other words, if 100 patients come to your website, 50% will do a google search on the internet on their PC or Mac desktop computers while the other 35% will be done via their Android devices or iPhones. For the 35% whom calls into your clinic suddenly they would want a website that can look good and interact good to ‘gain’ some trust that you are a trusted authority to look after them.
If your online presence is weak or neglecting then patients will be more likely not know you, not contact you and will not perceive your services as professional as your website doesn’t look professional and inviting to them. It is those subtle things which we do as dental professional which gains a patient’s trust and loyalty!
Some snippets of the statistics to back things up:
So what can you do to your website in order to make it mobile optimized?
If you are starting from scratch and are proficient at designing your own website and migrating and messing with servers (like me): convert your website to a CMS (content management system) that is open source, has lots of support and documentation and used widely within the web industry. My choice of CMS is WordPress which this website is based on. I’ve also used a very responsive theme (purchased, as the theme design and support is already excellent) while I utilized their support and modified some of the baseline coding. I started my philosophy as MOBILE FIRST. I always check that the site looks good on a mobile website before considering if it looks good on my desktop.
If you start from start and are new at making your own website: Get help from a friend or a colleague whom is good at web design whom can help. Start off from good hosting companies such as Panthur or Netvirtue, use installatron to install WordPress and start messing around with your website before publishing. Almost all the wordpress themes now support MOBILE with responsive design which will make your job a lot easier. All you have to do is to add content and you will be fine!
If you have an existing website and designed by a previous web designer with no mobile optimization: Commission your web designer to make a mobile version, or better but more expensive, make a brand new website with responsive design and you will be set.