6 Questions to Ask About Your Law Firm’s Website

Effective Web Design for Attorneys & Law Firms to Get More From Their Online Presence

For attorneys and law firms embarking on the venture of creating or redesigning their website, the decision of choosing to invest more in the design and development of their websites is an important one.  Print marketing has been delivering steadily declining returns and law firms are becoming more aware of the critical role of their web presence.  

No matter your law firm’s size or budget, your law firm site will be judged by three main criteria:

1. Whether the site is simple to navigate and search.
2. Whether the website was able to answer the users question or solve their problem.
3. Whether the website imparted a sense of credibility, trustworthiness, competency and strength.

The following is a legal marketing checklist of six key questions to help you get more from your firm’s online presence:

1. Is the website’s strategy clear?

The reason so many law firm websites fail to convert visitors to clients is because too few firms pay attention to business visions and goals, which results in fractured website strategy.  Your firm strategy should be clear when a visitor comes to your site. What is your differentiator, what makes your firm better than all your competitors? You have one chance to make the right impression—and you have about five seconds to make it before your visitors make a “stay or leave” decision. Don’t risk making the wrong impression by not spending time on this critical step.  Here is a good example of a mission statement and company core values: Interlaw International.

2. Do you come across as credible?

Web users are increasingly sophisticated. They can spot a piece of cheap stock art in a second. Does your website have stock art images of gavels, capitol steps, law books or the scales of justice? This type of imagery cheapens your firm. If there are images of your attorneys, are they professional photos that make them appear accessible yet serious? Next, be sure to emphasize legal credentials and facts about your firm that impart a sense of competency and trust. Along with imagery, make sure that the text describing your practice is succinct and well-written. All these factors will help establish your firm as a trustworthy, strong ally in a potential client’s eyes.

3. Is your site “user-friendly”?

Designing a site so that it’s “usable” is both an art and a science.  Many legal websites present design architecture that is cluttered and difficult to navigate.  In order to create a highly usable site, you must understand both human behavior and information design.  Try using cascading menus from your global navigation bar that preview the pages inside each section.  Also, keep in mind that usability also refers to “a users ability to contact you.” Remember to make your ‘Contact” section prominent and easy to find, include relevant information such as legal specialties contacts, phone numbers, addresses, emails and a contact form (bonus points for including social media links here too).

4. Are your biographies effective?

Lawyer website bios commonly range from no more than a bullet-point list to a voluminous Curriculum Vitae of every thing a lawyer has ever achieved. You should ensure that your bio actually does help your site visitors answer the question to their problem. Check out how the Law Offices of David H. Greenberg generates viewer interest by providing an answer to solve their problem in the first sentence of content.

Furthermore, keep in mind that an effective bio also requires being SEO-friendly.  What does this mean?  Look at the first two to three sentences of your bio.  Then conduct a Google search on your name. If your website bio link comes up in the search results (you should start worrying if your site doesn’t surface on page one), look at the first 200 characters of the Google result—it likely repeats the first 200 characters of your bio. Bingo! So, make certain that these first 200 characters are as compelling and relevant as possible.  Here you can see how the Google search results for King, Holmes, Paterno & Berliner LLP provides this information prominently.  

5. Does your website garner measurable traffic?

If your answer is “no,” or “your not really sure,” then answer us this: Are you on any social network?  Regardless of the type of business you are in, had you established a Facebook account this time last year, you would have a set of followers that would be driving traffic to your website.  In addition to social media, seek other strategies to improve your sites traffic by distributing news releases, promoting events and/or frequently update a blog.  Drive more traffic to your site by keeping your content fresh and updated (about once a week or so); doing so will also optimize your search engine rankings.  Don’t forget to promote your social networks on your website, through email marketing and via blog(s), this will allow first time visitors the option to follow you on social media networks that they commonly visit and will show clients that you are up-to-date and in-the-know with your practice.

6. Can your site be accessed on a smartphone or mobile browser?

Nowadays, the ability for customers to be able to access your site from their smartphones or mobile devices is not only convenient, but it is becoming a requirement.  Believe it or not, you don’t need to hire someone to create a mobile app of your whole website.  However, it would be beneficial to ensure that your web designer understands how to design your site so that is fully accessible and navigable on mobile devices. To ensure that your site can be accessed on mobile browsers, free your site of any Flash elements that aren’t compatible with iPhones. We built flexible site navigation that enabled mobile browsing for Sullvian Curtis Monroe LLC– check out their site on your mobile device!

Does your legal website need updating?  We have many more tactics we would love to share with you (we haven’t even gotten started with all the things you could do with testimonials or rich facts about your areas of practice, but we’ll get to that next time).  In the meantime, contact Executionists to speak with one of our legal web design specialists about creating a custom designed website for your law firm. 

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Posted: October 4, 2012