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Douglas McPherson

Director, 10 ½ Boots

Getting your website right is essential

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Getting your website right is essential

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advises firms looking to refresh their websites on presenting a clear benefit to the reader and making it as easy as possible for visitors to take the next step

Depending on which figures you read during which week, between 60 and 65 per cent of first enquiries that come to a law firm come through the internet. This figure is slightly skewed by the more transactional practice areas and by smaller firms, but the message is clear: if those enquirers aren’t impressed by their first interaction with your firm, then how likely are they to actually get in contact? More importantly, if they are not progressing their interest in you, where are their enquiries going?

Your website is your window to the world. If the above figures are correct (and there is no reason they shouldn’t be), then six out of every ten people who contact you see your website before they even speak to you. This means that however good your firm is, however welcoming your front of house staff are, and however well you’ve trained your fee earners to convert enquiries, you are missing out on three-fifths of all of the opportunities that are coming your way before you have any personal contact.

This is why getting your website right is absolutely essential. I have seen too many cases where a website revamp is either put off because of time or budgetary pressures, or stalls in production because partners can’t agree on (often small and insignificant) details or are in search of nothing less than perfection.

If you are looking to refresh your website, here are six very simple points to consider. 

1. What do you want your website to do?

Yes, you want it to mark you ?out as an attractive commercial proposition, but what’s the end game? Do you want it to be an online brochure? Do you want it to farm enquiries? Do you want it to be an online information repository for specific target groups? Do you want it to satisfy one-off enquiries or encourage repeat visits so you can start to build a loyal community around your firm?

Before you even ask a designer for a quote, you need to answer these questions. They will influence the flow of your site, its navigation, its design, and its content (and the frequency with which that content will need to be refreshed).

2. Clean and contemporary beats clever 

People get too hung up on design and on clever graphics and animated extras. The truth is, when it comes to the professional services, people just want clean and contemporary. While video is increasingly important because of the way people ingest information and the positive effects it has on search engine optimisation, too many moving parts can slow the site down, which in itself is off putting.

Similarly, a cluttered or ?dated design can be just as off putting. People are coming to you for clarity of thought and attention to detail, so make sure the look and feel of your site embodies that. 

3. Make it easy

As with all marketing vehicles, your site needs to make it as easy as possible for visitors to take the next step. Have clear calls to action on every page. 

This could be an email, a phone number, a download, ?a registration form for newsletters or workshops, ?or an enquiry template. Better ?still, you could employ all ?of those at different places ?on your site.

4. Think about how your enquirers will use it

‘Responsive’ is no longer a budget-sapping marketing-ism. Nearly all of those first-time enquirers will find you on a phone or a tablet so make sure your site is responsive to those tools. 

5. ‘So what?’

Do you clearly say why people should use you? I’m not talking about the anodyne claims that you are proactive, pragmatic, innovative, market-focused, etc., (yawn) but the inclusion of a punchy value proposition that will immediately show your visitors they should end their search and get in touch with you. 

An easy way to do this is, every time you make a claim in your copy, ask yourself, ‘So what?’ If the claim doesn’t present and articulate a clear benefit for the reader, it either needs a polish or it isn’t worth including.

6. Use what you like

Whether it’s for research, shopping, or news, all of us use the internet in some way these days. This means we all have a good idea of the functionality offered by the most successful sites, and an opinion on which parts of the functionality we like and find useful.

When you see a good idea that you know will make your site easier to use, appropriate it because it will make your site more attractive.

Douglas McPherson is a director at Size 10 ½ Boots @BDinLaw www.tenandahalf.co.uk

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