Your Law Firm Ought to Have a Good Looking Website
I have written more than once about why it’s important to own your own website. In this article, I’m going to lay out a few things that you should think about in relation to your website. If you’re paying too much for your website, or feel like your current provider is not addressing the following (or if you ask them to they schedule “a refresh”) then feel free to contact me. I can help you understand the specific changes I would suggest to your site and marketing plan and likely show you how I can save you thousands of dollars a year.
From a technical standpoint, there are a few things that need to be in order. These are issues that effect online marketing in general, they are not specific to online legal marketing:
General Look and Feel
It’s hard to put to words what a “professional website” looks like, but context can help a lot. Take a look at your competitors websites to build a context of what your potential clients are seeing when they’re shopping around. If your website is not obviously the first, second or third best choice out of five, it’s time to re-design. While there are a lot of options in terms of imagery and color, I think deciding between “professional” and “inviting” is a good place to start. Ideally, your website is both, but there are some sites (think corporate counsel and insurance defense type sites) that lean more towards a clean, minimalistic design suggesting prominence and professionalism in your field. By contrast, a bankruptcy or family law site (where your main message is “I can help you”) might achieve a more inviting look by using softer colors or imagery.
Responsive Design (Big and Small Screens!)
Your website needs to look good on a computer, a tablet and a phone. With HDMI outputs becoming commonplace having a 32” or larger monitor as a second screen is becoming much more common than it was just a few years ago, so remember very large screens as well as very small screens. Your design needs to work on every size screen; not just the pixel-specific widths of certain models of phones. Apple, Samsung and all of the other leading phone manufacturers will continue to change the width and aspect ratio of their phones and tablets. Pretty soon the Samsung Note will be larger than the iPad mini effectively erasing the line between phones and tablets. The takeaway? Your site needs to look great at EVERY width, not just the 480px width of the first generation iPhone.
Legal Marketing Issues
Tone of Content
Obviously, there are an infinite number of choices to make that will effect the look, feel and tone of your website. An exercise that I think is well worth the time (especially if someone else wrote your content) is to simply put yourself in the mindset of your clients. Whether that means you’re slightly under duress, or simply uninformed about the nuances of the law, it’s a worth-while exercise. We’ve all had a teacher who talked over the class…don’t do that on your website. Be accessible, be easy to understand, and more than anything else, be helpful. You are being considered for hire to help someone fix a problem. If you can not clearly explain how you are qualified and able to fix their problems, you will likely not be hired.
Engaging & Inviting Your Visitors
You can build a beautiful website with a library of awesome content and still not achieve your goal of getting a new client. We are not building an encyclopedia here… we are trying to get people to make contact – don’t underestimate the importance of actually spelling this out. If you offer a free consultation, it’s pretty easy to develop a variety of “Call to Action” language.
- Call Today for a Free Consultation
- Learn more without cost or obligation
- Get guidance from an experienced attorney during a free initial consultation
- Before you sign anything (divorce or injury) have an attorney with your best interest in mind look over the agreement
- It costs you nothing to understand how state law applies to your situation, and to get some options for moving forward.
However, even if you do NOT offer a free initial consultation, you need to make sure that you are fighting your visitor / potential client’s fears and hesitancies. Did you know that there are people who think they will be billed for calling a law firm? Do what you can to reduce your visitors’ hesitancies; be clear about how to take the next step. If you don’t offer a free consultation, find a way to build value into the act of the first contact:
- Questions? Don’t hesitate to email me and I will provide you with as much information as I can.
- Ready to Move Forward? Call or email so that we can arrange a time to meet and I can help you understand structure and payment schedule of your legal fees.
- Want to know how ______(your state’s) ________(your practice area) laws apply to your specific situation? Call to learn more. (ie, ….how Minnesota’s Bankruptcy laws apply to….)
- Call Today. During your first appointment, we will cover _______, _______ and blank.
What’s in it for me?
Don’t get so busy talking about you that you lose site of the client and their situation. Facing a divorce or a serious injury tends to inspire questions like “how will I pay for my house?” and “how will I provide for my family” instead of “I wonder if this lawyer was the editor of their law review 36 years ago?”. The point being, there is a time and place on your site to list your accomplishments and accolades. Some people will actually be very interested in where you went to school and the things you have accomplished. However, you have to trust that the people who are interested will go and find them – don’t over do it with the placement and prominence of your law school or your associations. A little bit of “looking accomplished” can go a long was…. too much “looking accomplished” starts to make you look like a jackass. A kind word from a past client is worth far more to most people than any affiliation or organization.
Different Goals, Different Results
Obviously, there is no perfect plan that will fit every law firm. What’s important is staying focused on what’s important to your clients. Think about the questions that you hear the most in early meetings. As basic as it might seem, think about what questions people ask you in a social setting when they find out you’re a lawyer… it’s very likely you’ve had potential clients with the same questions. Remember that you have a hard sale on your hands. Your retainer is likely qualifies as a “big ticket” purchase to your client, and they don’t always have a crystal clear understanding of exactly what they are buying. Ideally, your website combats both of these factors by explaining how you are of great value to your client, and how you will be able to work with them through to the best possible resolution.
If you have questions about how to get your law firm website in shape, contact me today.