Years ago, the typical person opened the Yellow Pages to find legal help. Today, most prospects go online. From their perspective, your website is your law firm - their first, most lasting impression of who you are, what sets you apart and how well you can meet their needs.
Site design is crucial to communicating the right messages. An easy-to-use site with a strong, unique personality can instantly set you apart.
Why is that important? On the Internet, your window of opportunity is small. You have just seconds to persuade a prospect to stay on your site and delve deeper. Your message must be clear and memorable.
Well-designed websites that stand out have several key elements in common:
They convey what makes you unique.
Online, being all things to all people is a great way to reach no one. Effective design zeroes in on the attributes that set you apart and communicates that unique identity through visuals, words, and how your site is organized.
Focus on unique areas of expertise. Choose images that reflect your specialties and the geographic area you serve. Reinforce those messages in headlines and other prominent blocks of copy. And think in terms of your prospect's expectations. While an aggressive tone and bold colors can work for a criminal-law firm, for example, visitors to a family-law site may be swayed by a softer approach.
They answer prospects' questions.
Make it simple for your prospects. The average visitor to your site wants answers to a few basic questions. A well-designed site clearly communicates up front:
- Where your firm is located.
- Who you are and what distinguishes your firm.
- Why the prospect should hire you rather than your competitor down the street.
- What special areas of expertise - such as Spanish-language capabilities - you offer.
- Answers to frequently-asked questions that you hear when speaking with prospects.
And don't forget to include a basic, but absolutely critical, piece of information: How (and when) a prospect can contact you for more information.
They have personality.
You're selling yourself. Don't be afraid to add personal touches such as your photo to your site. If you purchase a template site, "un-templatize" it as much as possible with logos, photos and other content unique to your firm's brand.
Or consider a FindLaw template website, which gives you the convenience and professionalism of a template solution but with a custom look and feel that still communicates your unique identity.
They're easy to use.
Fancy multimedia bells-and-whistles - such as Flash graphics or other memory-consuming video - don't necessarily make for an enjoyable user experience. Keep your site straightforward and easy to explore, even for less Web-savvy prospects. Can a visitor navigate your site effortlessly without clicking the "Back" button, for example?
They're consistent with other marketing materials.
While the Web is growing (fast) in importance as a legal marketing tool, your website shouldn't stand alone. Convey a consistent message to prospects - through the words, images and colors you choose - across all your marketing materials, from online to print to broadcast and beyond. If a prospect sees your name in a print ad, then visits your online site, the experience should be seamless.
Visit FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing for more information on how we design successful sites that are easy to use, reflect your image and help you attract more clients for your law firm.