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Making Rain: Website mistakes

July 29, 2015

stohler-making-rainNo matter what size firm you are, your website is your window to the world. Like it or not, a firm’s website has become the way your prospects, and probably current clients, evaluate and validate their choice to hire you to help them with their legal problems. You don’t need to break the bank to have a decent website that looks good, says what you do, is easy to navigate and allows people who visit the site to find what they need. There are a few things that you should consider as you evaluate your website and whether or not there is a need to make changes.

Responsive design

At a minimum, you should have responsive design. For those who aren’t familiar with this term, what it means is that on the desktop, tablet or mobile device, your site will work and look good. The design is “responsive” to the devices. If you want to be really on top of it, have a mobile design that puts information that mobile users typically want front and center —things like directions and phone numbers available by a simple click on the mobile device.

Narrow sites

If you still have a “narrow site,” which means it is 1,024 pixels wide, it is time to change. If you have this type of site, it will look very narrow on today’s wider and larger monitors. It makes you look outdated.

Trite images

Stay away from images like scales of justice, law books, gavels and courthouses. There are numerous images out there that are much more interesting and will help you establish your firm brand. Using these trite images makes all law firm websites look alike. It is a competitive world out there: set yourself apart.

Copy-heavy content

Get rid of all the long sentences and content-heavy pages that sound like they were written by committees of attorneys. A recent study by Social Times identified that most people want content of 300 words or less. What you’ve read so far, if you are still with me, is over 300 words. So keep it short, make your points and let it go.

Attorney email addresses

Put the email addresses of your attorneys on the site. Nothing is more annoying than having to fill out a “Contact Us” form just to email one or your attorneys. It is always startling to me that law firms will deter prospective clients from contacting them by throwing up a form to complete. And sometimes these are firms who claim to be responsive! How responsive is it when you can’t even make direct contact with the lawyer? If I am a prospect and have to complete a form, I’m moving on. If I am a client and trying to find my attorney’s email on your website, I’m irritated.

Attorney photos

High school yearbook photos may be best used in high school yearbooks. The trend away from this style and one that is more contemporary and relaxed started long ago. If you still have the traditional “sit down in front of this gray background and smile” type photos of your attorneys, changing them for a more contemporary look will be an inexpensive and easy update.

Meaningless statements

Do you have statements that really are more meaningless than useful? For example, do you say you are “client-focused”? What law firm is not? Do you say you are “results-oriented”? Who isn’t? These things are a given for a professional service firm. Use some creativity and come up with some words that truly describe your firm and set you apart from your competition.

Have a look at your site and see if you can identify any of these mistakes. If so, it really is not a big investment to fix them. It will help you present the image you want to your prospective clients and current clients.•

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Dona Stohler of S2 Law Firm Strategies provides consulting services on business development and marketing for law firms. Stohler has more than a decade of experience in the legal services industry and is the past chair of the U.S. Law Firm Group marketing committee. She can be reached at dsstohler@s2lawfirmstrategies.com or through www.S2lawfirmstrategies.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
 

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