The vast majority of law firm websites achieve very little for their business. Unfortunately it's because they've ignored some critical issues right at the start of the process. If you can tackle the process correctly, your website will be the foundation of an effective web marketing strategy.
Why Isn't My Website “Working”?
As I hunt around the internet looking at what law firms and lawyers are up to with their website, I see one thing regularly – a lack of purpose.
Even the prettiest (and most shockingly expensive) law firm websites seem to suffer from this problem.
It's pretty straightforward: when you designed your website, you didn't ask this question:
what do I want visitors to my site to do?
When we don't answer that question early in the design stage, we get “shiny button” syndrome.
We end up with a homepage that is cluttered with information, menus, buttons, sliders, pictures and sidebars.
We have menus, sub-menus, sub-sub-menus.
We list out 467 practice areas in the hope that a visitor to our site with actually spend the 5 minutes required to find something they are interested in. Or that they'll “surf”.
Unfortunately – they won't. “Surfing the net” doesn't mean “spending an hour on your site to find what I'm after”.
If I can't see what I want quickly – I'll bounce.
You've Got About 4 Seconds
The bloating comes from a lovely, but idealistic (and wrong) understanding of what people do when they come to our website.
Here's the truth: people will take around 4 seconds to decide whether or not your website is the place they want to be. Or not.
If they can't find what they're looking for, they'll click off and go somewhere else.
That means if I get to your site because I'm interested in starting a business, and I can't see within a few seconds how you can help me – I'm out.
If I need a new will, and I hit your homepage only to find that I have to squint at my phone and click through 3 levels of menus to find a massive list of practice areas (and I haven't heard the phrase “succession law” before) then I'm out.
If I'm starting a company and need some help to get things up and running, but can't see whether or not you even help people like me – I'm out.
Of course, with a refined digital marketing strategy, you should already know:
- what type of people should be visiting your site
- how you can offer value to them
So then you need to draft your website copy and create your design for that person.
What questions do they have? How are you going to gently steer them in the direction that will give them those answers.
But It's Complicated
I get it.
You might be a “full service” firm. Perhaps you have a lot of practice areas.
But the complexity of your practice should not translate into a complex website. You must refine – think harder about your audience and how easy you can make it for them. Think about who they are and why they are on your site. How did they get there? What are they looking for?
The best websites, with the best user experience, and the best consideration of purpose – these are the websites that work.
People simply don't stay on complex websites that are hard to navigate and are cluttered with excess. They put it in the “too hard” basket.
After all – you'd do the same thing, wouldn't you?
So why should your website be any different for your audience than how you use the internet yourself?
Why are They Here?
Remember our core – we're trying to become known, liked and trusted with a view to driving profitable client action.
Someone lands on your website. What they do next is going to be determined by how and why they got there in the first place.
Step 1 – who are they? Once you've got that… let's narrow it down.
I was Looking for Someone Specific
If I've googled “Lawyer Pete” and your website took me straight to Lawyer Pete's profile – how easy is it for me to contact Lawyer Pete? Is Pete's direct number and email there, or do I have to download a stupid v-card? If I'm on my mobile phone (and I probably am) then I want to click a button – dial the number, and call up.
Now. Not later.
Not with a v-card.
Just give me what I'm after.
Just to test this out, I literally googled “lawyer pete” and this is what I came up with:
This is a good profile page – I can now contact Pete straight away, using a number of different methods.
The down side – this site has a gazillion links and stuff on it to confuse me, much like the example above.
I wanted an Answer to a Question
Is your content strategy providing useful information for people? Does it actually answer the question?
If it does, and you've successfully been helpful to somebody – don't you think that they might want to get some more from you?
So how about you offer them something more that's relevant.
Not just updates, not just “join our newsletter”. That's generic, and in a world full of bland offerings I'm sure you can do better.
If I got to your site and landed on a page about startups, don't you think that I might download “the Entrepreneur's Guide to Legal Issues for Startups” if I was given the chance?
I might even give you my email address and my phone number to get it.
And then we've started our journey. I've given you my details, you can get in touch and we can start to see whether there's a business opportunity.
I Didn't Find my Answer
What about people who came to you but didn't find what they are after immediately?
Can they find it easily? How – what do they have to do, and how many steps are there?
After all, they landed on your site somehow.
How helpful can you be in the process, even if on first glance they didn't find what they were after?
Can you offer live chat? Can you offer a call to help out?
What can you do to make their life easier.
So How's your Site Perform?
Here's the journey you most likely want people to go on after they visit your site:
- get value from your public content
- get more value from something free – in exchange for giving you their name, email and/or phone number
- build trust through a dedicated email marketing system designed specifically for the area they expressed interest in
- become a client at the right time.
Is your site designed to make this happen?
Or is it just a repository for every single piece of information you could think of?
Once you have a site, you need to concern yourself with what you put on it.
What's your content strategy? What should you be doing with your site once you have dealt with the design?