Design from Inside Out: dental website

Design from Inside Out by Liane Sebastian

When looking for an Evanston dentist, I wished to do it right. This is a big decision, as my goal is to stay with one for years. First, I researched the internet and came up with a list of six that met my criteria. The slick websites of many were not inviting. But the warmth of Dr. Chernoff’s site, the helpful patient-oriented information, and his philosophy of “relationship dentistry” appealed to me.

After calling up each office on my list, I set out on foot to visit three that satisfied my initial questions. Once entering Dr. Chernoff’s office, I discovered it to be as warm and professional as I hoped. But it doesn’t mean I thought his website effective. I chose Dr. Chernoff for my dentist, not because of the website but because I made extra effort that most people don’t. Had the website shown more care than just putting stock images into a prefab template, it would have narrowed my search sooner. The effort was worth it, and I am happy with my choice.

Enter mobile technology. Now Dr Chernoff’s website does not function well on cell phones, which is now where many now search. The old format hurts more than helps. The mobile versions has a different structure and demands an update. Time for a change! So Dr. C became not only my dentist, but also my design client!

With an existing host contract, I needed to work within the parameters of Solution21. So, I planned out a phased development and started with a list of priorities. (Please see “The Dentist and Design”). The design update began with the most frequently viewed pages. The order of design development followed the order of readership statistics (From these solutions, the overall design theme emerged, and eventually influenced the template chosen to house the new content.):

1. Patient’s point of view
It was no surprise that the patient comments were high on the viewer list! There are good videos online, but the click through to them did not reflect the number of visitors on the page. We short quotations, cameo images, and links to the videos. Visitors now can more easily choose the topics that match their own situations.

2. Dr. Chernoff and staff credentials
The first question a prospective patient may have is what other patients experienced. The second is usually the background and approach of the dentist. “Dr. C’s” office is a small team of inspired and dedicated professionals. They all share the same approach even thought their backgrounds are very different. The staff page was the next project to receive new elements, following the style developing. Interviewing each staff member and asking the same questions give the mini-profiles a consistency and friendly appeal.


3. Informational priority and navigation style were defined next.
Perhaps the most important pages are the ones that describe treatment areas. Once prospective patients become patients, the pages that they access change. They look to the site for treatment information and explanations to dental care. It makes diligence both easy and motivating. Identifying these most-viewed topics allowed the navigation column to be transformed from three nondescript buttons to ten illustrated areas for easy clicks. Choosing an icon tooth design became a theme that unites throughout the site.

Chernoff-treatment-icon band

4. Illustrations embellish important pages and add instantly recognizable educational content.
“Dr. C’s” office is unique and the website should reflect this. Most dental offices sites all look the same, and if they ARE all the same, that is fine. But not for Dr. C. Not only does this include a dedication to making every patient’s dental visit easier, more pleasant, and advantageous, but is reflected online in concise and relevant information. Because images speak louder than words, a diagrammatical style fits with the evolving design direction. These are shared between the website and the blog

Chernoff-illustration styles

5. Migrating to new template
Choosing the template came after designing all of the elements. As modular components, they could migrate easily to the new template. With such a considered and well-planned approach, the investment into the site also is used in the blog and in social media. There is a consistency of look, feel, and functionality between each online delivery.

Chernoff-icon styles

Also please see my related blog about the design for Dr. Chernoff:

“A Softer Style: Illustration Series” for Dr. Chernoff by Liane Sebastian

“Say More with Less” by Liane Sebastian


Liane Sebastian wears an editor’s hat, designer’s coat, and artist’s shoes.