Over the past five years, we’ve worked with hundreds of attorneys. They all have unique practices, goals and they all serve very different communities but despite these distinguishing factors, they share in making a lot of the same BIG mistakes during the website development process. These mistakes, although seemingly minor at first, can severely hinder a firm’s chance of online success.
- They take professional photographs with their iPhones
While smartphone cameras have come a long way, a photo taken on a phone is not comparable to one taken by a professional photographer. Few things make a website, and your law practice, look more unprofessional than a blurry or dark photo that has clearly been taken by an amateur photographer with poor lighting and subpar equipment. Invest the time and money to have a professional photo taken of every member of your team.
- They try to appeal to everyone, and wind up appealing to no one
Everything on your website, from the copy to the graphics and your call to action, must be tailored to meet the needs of your target audience. Far too often, firms try to cram multiple practice areas and highlight an array of specialties on just a few short pages. The issue of course with this is that it becomes almost impossible to then tailor your graphics, call to action and copy to address the varied needs of all of these very different clients. It can also severely hinder your ranking with the search engines as it tends to dilute your keywords. Above all though, particularly if you are a solo or a small firm, it can give visitors the impression that you are a jack of all trades and not really a specialist. Whenever possible, try to create a website with a narrow focus. If you do indeed practice in multiple areas of the law, consider creating multiple sites, or designated sections on a main site, to provide information and resources on each practice area.
- They try to reach a consensus in the office
Depending on the size of your law practice, you may have a single person or a number of individuals who partake in the website development process. As with any other creative endeavor, you must be cautious not to have too many cooks in the kitchen and recognize that everyone may not agree on every aspect of the design or even love the tagline; after all, everyone has their own tastes when it comes to color and style preferences. You’d be shocked at how often we talk to two partners and one says, I prefer minimalist design while the other says that traditional is the way to go. When you hit a roadblock like this, it can stall your website development and often produce a rather bland site that no one loves but everyone can live with. When these stalemates do occur and you’re not sure what to do, it’s important to take a step back and remember that your website must be designed with your ideal client in mind. What are their preferences? What kind of imagery appeals most to them? While your personal preferences may not be harmonious, most teams can agree on what their clients and prospective clients are looking for.
- They are reluctant to try new things
“But this is the way we’ve always done it” is a phrase that we’ve all encountered at one point or another. It is the ultimate resistance to change, looking to the past for acceptable norms or inspiration. While this attitude may be necessary in certain aspects of your practice (e.g. your ongoing commitment to your clients), it can seriously harm your firm’s online marketing endeavors. As you work on your website, remember that the most effective campaigns are not achieved on the first go-around. You will likely need to test the waters and be willing to change and adapt accordingly. If one of your special reports doesn’t seem to be attracting enough attention, try a new tactic. With an open mind and a willingness to try new strategies, you’ll likely identify one that is most effective in achieving your goals.
- They have no plan for ongoing success
The website development phase is an exciting time and one that most firms embrace with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, after the site is launched and the enthusiasm wanes, many attorneys just give up on updating their sites and their online presence suffers as a result. To ensure you don’t suffer the same fate, it’s absolutely essential that you develop an ongoing plan for success which includes regular copy updates and regular reviews to assess traffic and visitor behavior, and pinpoint any issues which may hinder your site’s success.