1.01 Just a simple web site . .
Once upon a time we volunteered to design a bit of
a web site for our local veterinary practice. This has one and a
half surgeries and three and a half vets. How much work could that
be we thought!
We started by analysing existing vet web sites. We wanted to see
how they worked, how they were put together and the way they looked.
To be honest, we were looking for an example of excellence among
them so that we could clone it and save ourselves hours of work!
Return on Investment
We went looking for Veterinary Web sites. This was 1999. There weren't
very many and some were suprisingly difficult to find. There aren't
that many more in 2004. We persevered until we had built up a reasonable
collection. The first thing we wanted to assess was the probable
return on investment that each site was bringing to its practice.
Some sites had clearly had a lot of expensive professional time
spent on their creation. Others looked like the hobby of an interested
vet. One or two looked like they'd been put together by chance as
the practice cat walked across the keyboard. Investment ranged from
tuppence to thousands of pounds.
What were these practices expecting from their web site? Did they
want to improve animal care in their area? Sell more products? Attract
new clients? Encourage existing clients to take extra services?
In most cases it was very difficult to see any potential returns
for the practice.
Estimating positive returns was easy. Almost universally zero. When
sites had been online for a while there was a general feel of those
piles of expensively produced practice brochures that gather dust
in an office cupboard. Out of date information, pictures of staff
long gone. Many sites proudly displayed a label "Site last
updated" with a date two years or more before. The content
was generally thin. You could read every page and come away with
nothing more than the phone number and the post code (though some
sites even failed to show one or other of these).
The clearest returns were negative. Some sites were so badly implemented
that the lack of professionalism in their design could only suggest
a similar lack of professionalism to be possible in the surgery.
Today, with many more visitors having experience online, the effect
of a poorly designed site has become more pronounced. People know
what a professionally designed site look like and they are much
less forgiving of an amateurishly produced site attempting to promote
a professional service.
We found a handful of exceptions. Practices where someone, generally
a principal, had discovered both an interest and an aptitude for
promoting their surgery online. The most effective of these combined
an enthusiasm for the internet with a clear parallel enthusiasm
for the practice of veterinary arts.
The next stage
© Vetlist Ltd 2004
We clearly weren't going to find an easy solution to designing this
one little practice web site. We would have to do some work - rolling
up our sleeves we started by considering who the site was going
We welcome your comments, criticism and questions.
here to e-mail us