Is It You?
For your Web site to work for you, it must reflect both your firm's unique and differentiating position and your style of doing business. Adding a tagline isn't enough. Do the research-find out what's different and better about your firm. Then reflect it in the structure of your site and its design and content.
Is It Intuitive?
Take this simple test:
- Does your site enable visitors to do a global keyword search on the home page-and on every interior page?
- Tom Jones is a lawyer in your firm--how many clicks away from the home page is his bio?
- How many clicks away is your litigation practice description--and how many more clicks away is your product liability experience?
- How many clicks will it take users to learn what industries you serve?
If it takes more than two clicks, your Web site is working against you. Visitors simply won't waste their time trying to find what they want. They'll visit once, but they won't come back.
Does It Clearly Convey Your Capabilities?
Clients and future clients want to know three things:
- What you've done
- For whom you've done it
- What you can do for them
If your Web site doesn't address these questions early in the user's visit, you are missing an opportunity.
In terms of practice specialties, we know that corporate counsel and business executives use the Web differently. In-house lawyers typically search capabilities by practice area; CEOs and CFOs first search by industry. If your practices section merely states the administrative groups in your firm, you aren't reaching your visitor. And if you only list capabilities by practice (such as corporate, tax, litigation) and don't include industry expertise (such as timber, light manufacturing, hospitality), a huge segment of visitors are leaving your site dissatisfied.
Lastly, you need to be specific. Answer the who (assuming your state bar association permits this), what, how much, when and where questions. Your work distinguishes your lawyers and your firm. Talk about it.
Are the Lawyers' Bios Specific and Relevant?
Take this simple test:
- Do your lawyers' bios link to the practitioners' e-mail addresses so a visitor can easily reach them?
- Do the bios link to the practices and industries that the lawyers have listed as specialty areas?
- Does your content management system enable a lawyer to have three or four different bios, each with a different focus (such as securities, agribusiness, IP)? Can a visitor access the IP bio from the IP practice page, or the securities bio from that page, with one click?
- Can a visitor link to articles a lawyer has written from his or her bio? Can a visitor link from a publication in your online library to the author's bio?
The lesson is to give your visitors access to relevant information in one or two clicks, but also to invite them to dig deeper into a topic or subject area--in as few clicks as possible.
Web sites should be interactive and dynamic. You can control your visitors' perceptions about you and your firm--and you can even control the experience they have with your site. They just won't realize it. That's when you know your Web site is working for you.
Deborah McMurray ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a strategic marketing consultant to the legal industry and principal of Deborah McMurray Associates in Dallas. She is a coauthor of The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet, 2nd ed. (ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2002).