The professional services world has been all atwitter about social media. And while social media is transformational, it’s essential to remember that social media always points back to one place–your web site.
Web sites remain the central focus in any marketing platform. Whether someone’s been referred to you, or you’ve met on Twitter, both parties end up at your web site to make the decision whether or not to proceed with the relationship.
But amidst all the social media euphoria, have professional services web sites been a bit neglected? A quick review of our local market was revealing. We found:
- A 2005 copyright notice.
- “Recent” news from 2003.
- Too many gavels.
- More than a few calculators.
- More law books.
- Several Scales of Justice.
The list goes on…which led us to assemble our list of eight law firm web site mistakes. Here they are:
1. Should I stay or should I go now?
When someone new lands on your site, you have four seconds—yes, just four seconds—to capture their attention. Compelling visuals, a look that reflects your firm’s personality, and a clear sense of purpose (What do you want visitors to do now that you’ve gotten them here?) are essential.
2. It’s not you. It’s me.
Is your web site all about you? How much online real estate is devoted to “About Us” and “Our Mission” and “Firm History?” You want to inspire visitors with your understanding of their needs, how you’ve solved similar challenges before, and how you’ll solve that visitor’s challenge next…not a 33-page thesis on the firm’s history. Case studies, experience lists, industry-focused sections, and compelling content that speak your prospect’s language are the key to keeping people on your site.
3. Form over Function
Too often, form trumps function. This is a critical mistake. Web visitors expect a certain amount of consistency from website to website. They expect a navigation bar across the top. And that underlined text is a link. We’ve seen it numerous times—a professional services firm hires a creative firm with little or no industry experience, and the site—while fantastically creative—is barely functional. Creativity and a compelling look are essential. But there’s such a thing as too much creative. If your site deviates from basic design standards and is difficult to understand, perhaps how you deliver your services is hard to understand, too. At least that’s the conclusion visitors will draw.
4. It’s a brave mobile world.
Continuing with creativity, that Flash website that seemed so cutting edge five years ago now looks painfully outdated. Some devices, particularly iPads a, don’t read Flash—a big problem now that 56% of general counsel report accessing law firm web sites via mobile. Too much flash means limited mobile compatibility. And it gets worse! Search engines can’t read Flash either, which means potential clients may not ever find you. Those are opportunities lost due to excessive Flash.
5. Is anybody out there?
It’s Google’s world. We just live in it. Even the best web sites don’t have a chance if they aren’t deploying SEO. SEO—search engine optimization—makes your site attractive to search engines. That means if someone searches for you—or a related term—you have a fighting chance of appearing in the first page of results. Since the majority of web users never make it past page one, SEO is serious business. Individual page titles, keywords, and meta tags will increase your search engine visibility. Dynamic content, social media integration and blogs can also improve SEO organically. If you’ve got a great site but no traffic, take a look at your SEO.
6. Current content reigns supreme.
If content is king, current content reigns supreme. Are you updating your site weekly or more? If your site is built on a platform that prevents easy, regular updates and requires you to call your design firm every time you want to add a bio or upload a news article, it’s time to move your site to a platform that puts you in control. Search engines like sites with fresh content. So do individual visitors. Your website’s purpose is to drive traffic—to the site and ultimately to your client roster. Updated content does that.
7. Pithy prose is powerful.
Is your website written for the web? Or was your content simply harvested from existing print documents and posted online? In an online world, people scan. They jump around. They don’t read chronologically. Usage is anything but linear. Use bullets, highlighted key words, and blurbs with links to longer content. Keep your content “scan-able” so visitors can quickly assess a page and decide where they want to go to learn more.
8. Who cares?
Who’s visiting your site? How long do they stay? Once they’re on your site, where do they go? Without knowing your site statistics, it’s impossible to measure its ROI or refine it effectively. With simple analytics programs—which are free and easy to install—you can measure how people find you, how many visitors you have, and which pages are popular. Understanding these metrics will help you refine your site and deliver content visitors want to see where they’re most likely to look for it.
In Google’s world, a dynamic, professional, and effective web site is a cornerstone of every successful marketing program. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll take a big step toward creating a website that delivers new business.
For a limited time, we’re offering a complimentary website evaluation. Email email@example.com to schedule your website assessment.