4/17/09

Why Ask Why: Building Law Firm Web Sites

Online marketing for professional services, and in particular law firms, is a difficult proposition. Not only do legal online marketers have the challenge of overcoming lawyers' sensibilities about legal advertising, we have to contend with 50 states bar's advertising rules. Then after dodging these two bullets, we are called to measure what may, at first blush, seem to be immeasurable: reputation, influence and persuasiveness. Neil Mason's ClickZ article, "Metrics for Non-Transactional Web Sites" brought me back to the early days of my web's development when I would ask lawyers, "why do you want a web site?" In those days of yore (!), law firm web sites appeared to be knee-jerk reaction to what their peers were doing. But, if lawyers wanted a successful web site (or in this day and age, a successful blog), we had to decide where we were going. If there is no end-game in mind, we will just be wandering around. This is even more true in the vast wasteland of the web. Many law firms and lawyers struggle with this question: why do we have a web site? In a nutshell, the answer is one, or a combination, of the following:
  1. Sell a product
  2. Display an online brochure
  3. Generate leads

Once the decision, it will color a site's lay-out, design and content. And it will determine how we measure a site's success.

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3 comments:

Will Lewis said...

A note on bad law firm website design. Have you seen Cravath's site? A white shoe, old school, conservative as heck law firm, and they have the most avant garde design on the web. I like the site, and they obviously spent a lot, but information is difficult to find.

Jeff Berman said...

I agree that starting from a perspective of what you want the site to achieve is the right way to go. I wrote an article discussing some good features for a law firm website setup for lead generation and used a real world example of a firm's site in Phoenix. You can read it here:
http://tinyurl.com/c7rxvs

Mike Brown said...

To your three purposes, I would add a fourth, especially in esoteric areas like Intellectual Property:

- To provide enough information to answer the typical questions a prospective client has about the subject, so that when someone does contact you they have a good chance of hiring you as educated consumers.

Our site has always been heavy on content and light on advertising - the engineers and technologists and companies based on technology appreciate the resource, and it has been a good source of solid clients for us.

 

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