Free: 10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common
For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.
Using an AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo! email address
It amazes me that lawyers still use these kinds of email addresses—and put them on their business cards! I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to purchase domain names for lawyers when I see that they’re still using AOL for their email.
If you want to look like a professional on line and you are using your email address to send business emails, you need an address that conveys seriousness and permanence. Like it or not, an AOL email address makes you appear unstable or fly by night. The cost of your own domain name is less than $10/year and will usually include free email. Direct your new email address to your Outlook (or other email client) account and you will be good to go.
Not writing for real people
You may have gone to law school to “think like a lawyer,” but when you talk like one, you’re probably not doing yourself—or your clients—any favors. This is especially true online, where you have mere seconds to capture the attention of a web visitor. Since you can’t see them, you cannot gauge their reaction or understanding and adjust accordingly. Use the language your clients use when they describe their legal issues. Check your online copy with a layperson—ask them to rephrase your content in their own words. If they cannot understand what you’re saying, simplify it.
Writing for real people includes being smart about SEO, too. You can pack your site with keywords, but if the copy does not make sense for those visiting your blog or site, it won’t resonate. When writing for an online audience, you want to demonstrate your expertise and write about subjects that interest your target audience. If you do that, you will be halfway to your SEO goals already.
Focusing your website or blog on YOU rather than your audience
Your website is for your clients, potential clients and referral sources, and they should be the focus. Make sure that your site reflects your clients’ interests and needs and provides information that they are seeking. Provide information about you in a way that reflects the benefits they seek. Remember the client’s perspective “What is in it for me?”
Do not make your website, your online profiles or other online advertising sound like a “Crazy Eddie” commercial. Overselling yourself is counterproductive and damages your credibility. Instead of preaching about your expertise, demonstrate it using stories and case studies or testimonials where permitted.
Expecting results without participation
It is a “Web 2.0” world; the internet is now a two way street, not just a platform for publishing or obtaining information. To make the most of the internet in your practice, you need to participate and interact online. Provide ways for others to interact with you on the web: allow comments, ask questions, and invite discussion. Make sure that you participate in the online conversation and extend that conversation offline. People do business with people they know, like and trust—and those relationships develop over time, with a number of contacts.
Boring, resume-style profile or bio
Professionalism is one thing, but boring is another. Infuse your online presence with some personality and style. Be authentic. Where appropriate, let you readers and potential clients know what interests you, why your work is important to you and your clients and how you are different. Give them a glimpse into who you are—it will be easier to like you and thus easier to hire you.
Being invisible online
When preparing for a consultation with a lawyer recently, I searched in vain for any information about him on the internet. There was none to be found—no website, blog, profile or internet presence at all. Do not assume your clients don’t use the internet. Even after receiving a personal referral, potential clients and referrals sources will likely check you out online. If you are not there, they may move on without even attempting to contact you. (And speaking of contact—make sure your contact information is easy to find online. Do not make people search for it.)
(photo: r3v || cls)