88% of all US adults have a smartphone. Further, over 50% of all search is performed with a mobile device. With a significant number of new patients discovering dentists online, having a strong mobile internet presence is essential to the success of your practice. Unfortunately, this need has driven a few companies to misrepresent their products by confusing dentists into thinking they are purchasing a mobile app when they are actually providing an over-priced mobile website. Further, some of these services may actually harm your practice.
Before investing in mobile technology for your dental practice, it’s best to understand the differences between a mobile website and a mobile app.
A mobile website is simply a version of your primary desktop website. When someone visits your website on a mobile device, coding within the website detects what device is being used and automatically delivers a version of the site best suited to that device. Mobile optimized websites load faster, are generally smaller, have fewer graphics, larger navigation buttons and provide the most requested information “front and center”. (See an example of Smile Savvy designed mobile websites.)
A mobile app is different from a mobile website in that it must be downloaded onto a user’s mobile device, generally through the iTunes App Store for Apple products, or Google Play for Android devices. This means users won’t easily find your mobile app in a Google search. Instead, mobile apps often provide enhanced functionality not available on a typical website, such as push notifications and calendar integration. Mobile apps are independent of your website even though they may provide links to your website and social media functions. While it is possible to add a shortcut for your mobile website to many smartphones, mobile websites are not mobile apps.
Properly designed mobile websites will always use the same URL, or website address, as your main website. A mobile website that is coded well will be viewed by Google as your website, providing you the same search benefits as if a user had found you on a desktop. Further, many newer websites are built with “responsive” design. This means that there is only one actual website which adjusts to suit whatever screen size or device is being used.
You should be aware that there are several companies offering mobile websites which do not follow best practices. These websites use a completely different URL than your main site, potentially drawing traffic away from where it’s most beneficial and even causing “confusion” for Google as it attempts to index and rank your primary website. Even more, many of these companies are charging exorbitant setup and monthly fees far above what you should pay for this service.
We recommend that you educate yourself regarding the usage and functionality of mobile apps before purchasing one for your practice. Evaluate what you are trying to accomplish with a mobile app and see if there are simpler, more straight-forward solutions. It may be that what you are looking for is simply a mobile website. Or, your current patient management software may provide the functionality you are seeking in a mobile app. If you decide to move forward, evaluate any mobile app company based on how well you can track statistics and measure value. If you see that your app isn’t getting the traffic or use that you expected, you’ll want a company that doesn’t lock you in to expensive contracts or cancellation fees. Always choose established, professional companies that are respected by your peers. Again, make certain that what you are buying isn’t actually a mobile website.
Smile Savvy provides a mobile-optimized version of every new website we design. Further, many of our newest Quick Custom designs are responsive, making them adapt to any screen or device you view them on. Please contact us for more information on how we can make your internet presence mobile ready.