How can Dentists Create an Appealing Smile Gallery on the Website?

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Just like any consumer, cosmetic dentistry patients are also living in a digitally-driven world. What does that mean for the dentist? Patients are continuously researching and making purchase decisions online. Those cosmetic dentists who establish a strong web presence and constantly utilize powerful digital marketing and advertising strategies can establish better local awareness for their patients and attract more traffic to their websites. These strategies cover anything from website design, brand reputation, and search engine optimization (SEO). Patients search the internet for the very best quality care available. They might start with referral and consultation, asking their friends and neighbors, but their research takes them to search engines like Google. In fact, 75% of the patients look online for a new healthcare provider or a dentist. What’s the bottom line? A digital-first mindset is a doorway to being the number one local solution for your patients. In this article, I will focus on a small portion of your website user experience that can significantly impact the patient’s decision to select your practice for their cosmetic makeover.

Build an Effective Smile Gallery for Your Website

To attract patients looking for a smile makeover, you have to have an effective online smile gallery. According to the Sesame Communications landmark study, How Consumers Choose Cosmetic Dentists Online, your smile gallery is the first patients visit after finding your website. You see how important it is to make a great first impression. So what is the most effective way to present your smile gallery? First and most important, Do not use models or stock images. That turns off your patients immediately and results in them walking away to another business. Don’t overdo to drive patients away. Few things that will drive your patients faster than anything away from your website and onto a competitor’s website is:
  1. Overly “glam” website
  2. Small-page flash websites
  3. Use of models and stock photos
  4. Intro pages
  5. Excessive usage of pop-ups
  6. Bad user experience and hard-to-find information

Smile Gallery Should Represent the Work Done and the Why

It goes without saying that your smile gallery should involve information for each case. What was actually done and why. What procedure was used on the patient? Just like building a persona, you need to tell a brief story of the case along with the patient’s first name to personalize. This is important because your patient is looking for a warm and caring dentist, but they need to know more about the procedure and its effectiveness when it comes to makeovers. Telling them a little about the patient will show that you care about the people, not just the teeth. In addition, it creates trust and brand reputation. Remember that your website should work the same way as if the patient contacts you directly. So take the opportunity to present the best of your work and your personality through your website. Remember your STEPPS for creating successful and persuasive digital marketing. What does that mean? Through STEPPS, you:
  1. Attract patient’s attention
  2. Engage positively with their emotions
  3. Establish trust
  4. Inspire their imagination
  5. Close the deal
Inspiring a positive emotional experience in your patient is vital for your marketing campaigns and your website user experience, specifically through your smile gallery. So take time to create a memorable experience for your current and prospective patients. Keep in mind that people make decisions on the right side of their brain based on emotions, then justify the decision based on logic on the left side. Your smile gallery is there to appeal to the emotion first. In the story, the procedural information is there to close the deal by the use of logic.

Use Full Face and Not Just the Teeth

Having the before and after of the teeth might be satisfactory for the logical mind to decide. After all, it represents your clinical skills perfectly. But remember, emotion makes the decision; logic closes the deal… To spark an emotional response in the viewers’ eyes in your dental practice, you should use the full face in the photographs. Why is this important? It goes back to showing you care about more than just a teeth It drives them to imagine themselves from a different worldview. Imagining themselves in the before and after picture. Douglas Van Praet, the author of Unconscious Branding, explains the importance of “Leading the imagination”. In one of his chapters, he takes the reader through a story of how a Porsche dealer in Toronto utilized the concept to increase their direct mail response from 1% to an incredible 32% response. In that story, the Porsche dealer sends a photographer to take a picture of a shiny and brand new Porsche in the driveway of each house. The headline read, “It’s close than you think.” How brilliant is that? Get the buyers to imagine themselves owning a new Porsche… For that example, implementing the strategy to showcase the makeovers will allow your patients to visualize themselves with the makeover. In addition, using real cases will help your practice showcase your skills also help your prospective patients identify with your brand. Remember to ask for consent beforehand. David Hall, The founder, and president of Infinity Dental Web, recommends adding a brief consent into the patient registration form.

How many Cases to Display in the Gallery?

It is recommended for dentists to display at least five to ten quality cases, or up to twenty or so on the website. Remember quality over quantity. The quality of the cases is more important than the number of instances you display on the website.

Where the Smile Gallery Should be Placed on the Website?

Since the smile gallery is an important factor in your patients’ decision making process, we have to make sure it is very accessible and very visible on your website. The patient should have several different ways to land on the gallery page without having to browse too hard. Remember, convenience is the key. The Do’s:
  1. Have smile gallery as part of your website’s main navigation menu bar.
  2. Order the navigation bar in the order of importance or in accordance to the patient journey. (very beginning after home page option, or towards the end closer to Appointment)
  3. Ensure that few of the cases also appear on your home page, when the user is scrolling down digesting the information.
  4. If you have services page, display related cases for each under its own corresponding product/service page
  5. Make sure your image sizes are optimized so it doesn’t affect your page load speed. You can lose a lot attention if your page loads slowly. Typically the ideal website load time should be between 1-2 seconds for mobile sites. If takes longer than that, the users abandon the page and off they go to the competitor’s. Ideal size should be less than 500KB or even less than 250KB if possible.
  6. Speaking of Mobile, make sure your website and your smile gallery templates are responsive and can easily be displayed and views on Mobile. A lot of patients research the internet on their mobile or tablet. We need to make sure information is visible and user-friendly.
A way to test out your responsiveness is to collapse the browser to a small size window and as you are collapsing it, view how the page is behaving on the smaller screen. The Don’ts:
  1. Don’t hide your smile gallery under services or another section as a submenu option. That is very you need to showcase your best work. We don’t want that to be hidden or for customer to have to search for it.
  2. Don’t jeopardize the design of your gallery by excluding information on one display environment than another (Mobile vs. desktop)
  3. Don’t overcomplicate your gallery template. Simplified experience is the best experience.

Couple of examples of bad user experience for Smile Gallery:

  1. Carousels of images
What does this really tell the patient? How does this emotionally affect them to make a decision? Also, in my opinion, usage of carousels is not the most user-friendly option in the world on mobile. Done right, you get the same experience as desktop version but on a smaller screen. Done wrong, users have to get into click war with the display for the left and right buttons to work.
  1. Overly complicated experience
Wow! Cool! Good news is at least it was responsive! Don’t get me wrong, I love the before and after slider. I think it’s really beautiful and adds to the user experience. But I think the arrangement of the pictures could have been better. Keep in mind that you are battling with the user experience of the website visited prior to your website but also with the users’ historical interactions with the website.  If you step outside of the norm, it better be for improvement not to create further complications.

Ideal Design Template for Smile Gallery

If I was to review a layout, it would be the following. The stack version helps with content association and responsiveness of the content on the page. Plus, it follows the thought process. The image and the before and after grabs the patient’s attention, helps them imagine themselves with the before and after, followed by providing the logical information to convert the patient.
  1. Grab attention
  2. Let them imagine it
  3. Convert with Logic
  4. Close the deal


As a cosmetic dentist, you most likely have invested a lot of your time and money in creating a beautiful website and ensuring the website ranks on search engines to optimize for SEO and local searches. You did all this because you wanted your website to stand out and attract new patients. With consumer expectations rising across all industries, as a cosmetic dentist, the mission of your website should be to provide the best user experience that captures users’ attention, inspires positive emotions, establishes trust, and creates an environment to lead imagination. Creating a beautiful smile gallery that showcases your skills and quality of work will be tremendous in helping patients choose your website as their go-to solution for their smile makeover.

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