Your website can be an effective way to bring in new clients – if it’s done right.
To help determine whether your web presence attracts (or drives away) potential customers, a seasoned website developer recently authored “What Does Your Home Page Say about Your Firm,” in the latest issue of GP Solo Magazine.
Attorney Jeff Lantz, CEO of Esquire Interactive LLC, a website development and marketing company based in Tucson, Ariz., says there are several common mistakes to avoid when crafting your law firm homepage.
Here are four of them:
- Avoid text-heavy homepages – “Your website will resonate (positively or negatively) with users in about three to 14 seconds after they first see your website,” Lantz says. This time frame is too short to create a positive impact with long text presentations.
Instead, Lantz recommends that you think of your homepage design like the magazine covers you see on newsstands: Large pictures and carefully crafted headlines with minimal text. These headlines aim to elicit an emotional response so you’ll purchase the magazine. Similarly, your homepage should create an immediate positive connection so users will delve further into your website. Magazine publishers know that excessive cover text dilutes headlines – and decreases purchases!
Such an approach lends itself to the way homepages are now presented. Today’s websites are rarely presented as three or more vertical columns of text, as they typically were in the past. A more modern approach is to have a homepage divided into large horizontal sections, with each having only one message, subject and image – allowing the page to be easily viewable on mobile phones.
- Avoid dark backgrounds – “White space is a critical element in website design,” Lantz says. “Most large e-commerce sites use white (or light) backgrounds for one reason: They lead to higher conversion rates (and more purchases).”
- Avoid overused and meaningless law firm descriptions – Your website should look unique, Lantz emphasizes, noting that lawyers should stay away from page designs that look like templates (even if you are using one!) and develop a distinctive, stylized logo. And, along those lines, you’ll want to stay away from trite boilerplate descriptions of your services. Rather, concentrate on key messages focused on your clients’ needs.
Highlight compelling messages around the matters important to your clients. “For example, if you’re a divorce lawyer, clients want to see if you: offer a free consultation (even by phone); accept credit card payment; and are willing to occasionally see clients on weekends or after hours,” Lantz says. In short, provide the information that clients most want to see.
- Avoid stock photos – Invest in good photography, as high-quality imagery significantly increases the perceived expertise of a law firm, Lantz says. Rather than the typical headshots or “lawyer lineup” photos, in which attorneys are posed in front of a bookcase of lawbooks, use large images of your lawyers in more natural poses, such as discussing matters with a colleague while walking in a hallway or meeting in a conference room.
If you hire a professional photographer, Lantz recommends that you negotiate up front a set fee for the shoot and image ownership. Also, make sure your photographer shoots an appropriate “banner” image, which is typically about five times as wide as it is tall.
Lantz provides additional tips to optimize your homepage – including those related to the use of client testimonials and the recommended placement of calls to action and contact forms – in the full article.