Does your Law Firm’s Website Attract or Repel?
Yes, yes, I know. Don’t judge a book by its cover. What matters is what’s on the inside. I’m smart; I shouldn’t have to worry about being pretty.
Somewhere in the universe those sentiments are true. Not so much online, and most definitely not when it comes to your law firm’s website. This is the website that represents you, your brand, your expertise. Is good enough really good enough?
Although more law firms are gradually beginning to see the light and are shaking the crust and cobwebs off their stodgy websites in favor of modern, client-friendly designs, they remain the exception rather than the rule. Far too many law firms still fail to see the value in having anything more than a moderately attractive web presence to highlight their services and credentials. A website? Yeah, we’ve got one. Check.
This online strategy may have been sufficient several years back, but no more. This is 2015. Like it or not, if your website isn’t working for you, it’s working against you. Why? Because today’s potential client is looking for a lot more than an online resume and a Google Maps link to your firm’s address. If you don’t give them what they’re looking for, guess what? Your competition is a click away. If their website has done a better job than yours of attracting visitors and providing what they need, chances are excellent that your potential client just became their new client.
What’s Wrong with My Website?
Many law firms seem to take the “Field of Dreams” approach to their website, assuming if they simply build it, clients will come. They throw up what amounts to little more than a digitized version of a firm brochure. Rows of credentials and achievements are layered over stock photos of gavels or the scales of justice. A tiny photo of each lawyer in the practice is presented along with his or her respective areas of practice and a boring little bio. In some cases the website is launched and almost immediately abandoned, with no updates, no nothing. Other law firms keep their websites current but flood it with legal speak that is of no help whatsoever to a potential client.
So what can you do to bring your law firm’s website into the modern age and ensure that you take advantage of all the Internet can do for you? Here are our “Laws of Attraction” to get you started.
Law of Attraction #1 – Let Your Legal Freak Flag Fly
The legal business may be serious business but that’s no excuse to blend into the mahogany woodwork. You need to give potential clients a reason to choose you over your competition. Yes, you have the credentials but so do countless other lawyers. What do you bring to the table? What makes you and your firm unique? Inject your bio with personality. Over and above your expertise and impressive qualifications, clients love to know the “why” behind the scenes. What makes you good at what you do? You have a story to tell and that story will resonate with your clients, reminding them that they are hiring and working with a real person who has a passion for their work.
Law of Attraction #2 – Lose the Stodgy Photos
While you’re freshening up your bio, don’t forget to breathe some life into your photo as well. In the same way your bio should tell your story, your photo should let your personality shine through. Gone are the days of sitting perched on a stool in front of a library backdrop. Today’s modern legal websites are filled with photos that are more personal and engaging, showing that their law firm is comprised of real human beings. Step beyond the yearbook look and try something different – larger sizes, all black and white, photos that show a bit of each lawyer’s personality, even a horizontal orientation as opposed to the usual vertical. Some law firms have hired portrait photographers who create unique, energetic portraits with a unified look. A little humor or artistic license goes a long way in showing clients who they are hiring, all while still remaining completely professional. Your client is not hiring your law firm so much as they are hiring you.
Law of Attraction #3 – Work It
There are still some law firms who like to believe their website’s primary objective is as a general purpose web presence for the referred client vetting process. These law firms are likely leaving stacks of money on their conference room tables. First of all, even referred clients will be looking for signs that the law firm they hire is dynamic, competent and up to date. Never consider them a foregone conclusion – they need to be wooed just as much as a prospective new client.
Secondly, business can come from anywhere. You simply don’t know who might be looking for your particular legal services. With more than three quarters of seekers of legal help turning to online resources to assist in their search, it would be a strategic mistake to ignore the impact a well-designed, modern website has in attracting new clients.
Make sure your website appeals to the referred client as well as the potential client you didn’t know you had.
Law of Attraction #4 – Keep the Content Fresh
If you come across a can of food that expired roughly six months ago, what do you think? Should you toss it? Take a chance with it? I mean, it’s probably okay, right? But if there’s another can right next to it that’s clearly fresher with an expiration date two years in the future, which one are you going to choose? If a potential client is viewing your stale website, then clicks away to a “fresher” website with content just updated yesterday, which law firm do you think he will choose?
Please don’t let the content languish on your website. It does matter, for several reasons. For one thing, anyone who sees that your last blog post was dated 2013 will immediately decide that if you can’t take time to tend to your website – the face of your own law firm – you may well be equally lax about tending to other matters. Not good.
In addition to this, fresh content feeds SEO, keeps eyeballs on your site, and when accompanied by social sharing links, provides even more opportunities for you to be found. Don’t ignore this crucial ingredient to a successful, modern website. Keep pouring relevant, helpful articles, blog posts and other information into your site to ensure it never becomes a stagnant place that no one ever feels the need to visit a second time.
Law of Attraction #5 – Be Mobile Friendly
This law should not be news to you but it’s so important it warrants stating the obvious – your website must be mobile-friendly. You’ve read the statistics, you see everyone with their phones attached to their hands – people absolutely are viewing your website from their mobile devices. If they have to pinch and zoom to view your website, not only will you seem like a relic, you will annoy people into finding a law firm that can keep up with the times.
Bonus Law of Attraction #6 – Less about You, More about Them
One of the best ways to modernize your law firm’s website once the first five Laws are followed is to remember who your website is for. It is not for other lawyers, it is for your clients. Keep the legal jargon to a minimum. Worry less about listing all your degrees, achievements and accolades and focus instead on showing your client how you can be of help to him or her. Yes, they do indeed want to know your credentials and your level of expertise. But what they really need to know is that you understand and have concern for their problem and have the ability to create a solution to that problem.
A modern legal website that shifts to being a client-centered design will have no problems attracting new clients and, even better, keeping them.