The Six Sins of Legal Web Site Design

Article excerpt

Your firm needs a new Web site, and you've convinced the partners that it's time to undertake this lofty goal. I use the word "lofty," because legal Web sites often take unexpected twists and turns due to the sheer volume of information and phases of approval. You'll need some loft to get it done. You've made the right move to limit the number of decision-makers who will approve the phases of design and the final product. But there are several other critical preparation steps you may have missed. By taking these steps, you can avoid these six sins of legal Web site design.

(1) Neglecting Search Engine Optimization

Beautiful is not enough. You have to make the site ready to find. Even very large Web consulting firms do not necessarily make it easy to find your site once it is on online. Talk to your designer about SEO and build some time into the project or budget to research keywords and coding that is search-engine friendly. A good Internet marketing presence usually takes an expertise that few design firms have.

(2) Missing Your Target

Do you know how your prospects buy and what stage of the buying process your Web site supports? Get focused before you spend. Design your site for your best prospects and what they are looking for.

For example, if you offer personal injury or family law services, the pages for these practice areas should have a more personal tone and design because prospects are probably just beginning their search for an attorney. Business clients, however, may be searching online because they've heard something about your firm and want to check out your credentials, past cases or experience before they contact you.

(3) Design First

While the Internet demands good design, too many firms hire a graphic designer to create their Web site. Begin with a clear idea of what you really want the site to do, the experience that you want for users and the messages to convey. Management as well as marketing and sales should be tapped for feedback on how to engage visitors. Interactivity could include monthly e-newsletters, articles, downloadable brochures, video clips, podcasts and blogs.

Pay special attention to career pages and the key messages you want to send to candidates. With a clear branding and marketing strategy for your online presence, your designer can do a much better job. …