Although every lawyer is unique, two things we probably all have in common are a desire to present a professional image to the world and a need for clients.
In our correspondence, our manner of speaking, and our dress, we try to convey an image of professionalism. Law offices tend to reflect the image the lawyer is trying to present to clients—staid, hip, tech-savvy—but in all cases, professional.
Most law firms today have a website, and, usually, the website does a pretty good job of presenting to clients the professional image the firm is trying to convey, at least on a desktop computer. The problem is that many times clients are not seeing our websites on a desktop computer. They’re seeing our websites on their smartphones.
Imagine a client of your own firm, driving to your office for a meeting with you. Your client is running late, or maybe forgot your address, so, naturally, she puts your firm’s URL into her mobile phone. Many restaurants and retail establishments have already learned the importance of a mobile-friendly website, so customers can easily find them on their phones. But a surprising number of lawyers have not. Many law firm websites are not mobile-optimized, which means that when your client puts your URL into their phone’s browser, what they may see is a tiny, illegible version of your desktop site—without easy access to your phone number, address, or email. That’s neither professional nor helpful.
Which smartphone experience do you think is more helpful to that client in her car?
A law firm’s website is really like the sign on your door: a reflection of your business and your professional image. A website that isn’t optimized for mobile devices is really saying to your clients, “I’m not very tech-savvy” or, worse yet, “I just don’t care.”
What Are Your Options?
One way to address this problem is to rebuild the existing website, ensuring a consistent and professional experience across all viewing platforms. However, rebuilding a site can require a significant amount of time and money. Depending on the design and functionality, a website redesign will often cost thousands of dollars and will take your time and attention away from your practice and your clients.
There is another approach that is much quicker and much less expensive. There are several web-based services that will convert a standard desktop website into a mobile site, or a mobile-optimized site. (I explain this distinction below.) Generally, this type of service involves submission of your website’s URL to an automated website that will generate a preview of your site’s conversion into a mobile-friendly format. Web-based services include Two Minute Mobile, Mobify, and Duda Mobile.
Costs of this type of service vary, but generally are fairly inexpensive. The service can involve a one-time charge, or a one-time set-up fee and continuing, recurring charges. In some cases, the service is even free, though the free option requires placement of ads on your mobile site, which would generally be a nonstarter for a lawyer trying to project a professional image.
Many of these services will carry over your existing website’s look and color scheme, as well as its most important information, such as site navigation, address, and directions, links to social media platforms, and contact information including click-to-call and email. Each of these services offers a different level of available customization, from the simple to the highly complex.
Separate Mobile Site or Mobile-Optimized Site
Services such as this can generate either a mobile-optimized web site (where the URL for the mobile view is the same as the URL for your desktop site) or a separate mobile web site (which would have its own separate URL). There are two important disadvantages to the approach of a separate mobile site. First, a separate mobile website will not have any of the existing website’s search engine rankings. Second, it will have to be maintained separately from the desktop site, increasing your effort and expense over time.
These limitations to a separate mobile site have led my company, Two Minute Mobile, to take the approach of creating a mobile-optimized version of your existing website. On a smartphone, a viewer will see a landing page that contains key contact information, with touch-to-call, touch-for-directions, touch-for-email, and mobile friendly navigation for the main site. On a desktop computer, however, your existing website will look unchanged. This approach retains your search engine rankings, and avoids the need to maintain two separate sites.
Whatever You Decide to Do, Do Something
A recent survey found that almost two-thirds of smartphone users will leave a website if they don’t immediately find what they are looking for. Often, your clients just want your phone number and location, so make it simple for them. Because you care about your firm’s professional image, and about getting more clients and making the ones you have even happier, you should make sure your website is mobile-friendly.