In today’s world, almost every business is an online business.
Your law firm might be built from brick and mortar, but the overwhelming majority of your prospective clients are going to find you online (or else they might not find you at all).
Consider this: According to the 2014 FindLaw U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey, 72 percent of people looking for a lawyer online will only contact one attorney. 82% of those people will hire the one lawyer they contact.
What does that tell us? Your website needs to be a masterpiece — an eye catching conversion machine. Multi-million-dollar cases could be on the line.
Studies show that you have only a few seconds to make a first impression. If users like what they see, they’ll start delving deeper into your site, and the content they find needs to impress them too.
Ultimately, your website is everything — it brings people in, informs them, persuades them, calls them to action, and converts them from visitors to clients.
In the legal web marketing world, we call that process the conversion funnel, and building it isn’t easy. After all, the competition is tough. Most law firms have websites these days, and only so many can fit on a Google results page.
Even those lucky enough to get clicked on have a challenge: stand out from all the rest.
How Do We Make Them Stand Out?
The key to differentiating a Network Affiliates-created website is really in the way that we look at what our industry calls the “UX/UI.”
User Experience/User Interface (UX/UI) is one of the hot, buzzy phrases in the digital world. Marketers sling those four words around like they’re a singular entity, as though the slash deprives each individual word of meaning.
We like to take a different approach by considering the true purpose of each concept.
The User Experience (UX) refers to what the viewers will see and how they will use the site. At Network Affiliates, we develop the UX before we’ve selected a single image, color, or font. The UX really is a concept, a master plan. It is essential that your team have a strong sense of that, articulated in a clear vision, before delving into the UI. We begin every website project with a robust set of wire frames that detail each of the following:
- Conversion points
- Data captures
- Cross-promotional opportunities
- Page functionality
- Content outline for each page
- Next steps
This is key. Using this approach from Square One means that all of our early-stage conversations with you are about strategy and ROI — NOT about what “looks good.” Aesthetics are important, and those will be carefully considered in the next stage, but they can be a real red herring. Strategy and ROI are the goals. By breaking up the UE and the UI, we keep your priorities in place.
Next up, the User Interface (UI) refers to the website’s aesthetic and your viewers’ physical interaction with the site once it’s designed. This is the piece of the process wherein we make your firm stand out from the competition. The UI is your first impression, your calling card, and your home run.
Of course, the UI is in many ways a work of art, and art is subjective. So how do we ensure that we nail your art on the first try? Frankly, we can’t — art is never a one-and-done proposition. That’s why we test all of our designs.
Even after we arrive at a beautiful, powerful, and strategically designed site, we still aren’t done. The UX and UI are followed by our powerful website analytics.
Network Affiliates uses the standard suite of Google Analytics tools, along with a second layer of tools that helps us identify areas where the UX or UI can still be improved.
When we find an area that isn’t performing as well as they should, we immediately begin modifying, monitoring, and testing that area until we’re able to optimize it. Such real-world testing lets us refine and perfect your site’s ROI using actual data, not assumptions.
Smart Web Investment Requires a Strategy
Legal web marketing is the largest and fastest-growing form of law firm marketing in the 21st century. Your competitors are making substantial investments in their websites, and you need to too.
But wise investments don’t have to break the bank. Every law firm walks into its website process with a budget. As legal marketing experts, it’s our job to make the most of your budget with measurable and impressive ROI.
At Network Affiliates, we believe in website investment strategy. In other words, we know that simply pouring money into a website doesn’t work.
The most effective law firms have outstanding and highly functional websites that have been designed to narrowly achieve very specific goals. A thought-out website strategy is the only way to cut through the crowded ’net.
Fancy aesthetics are nice, and we can certainly achieve them, but they aren’t the goal. The goal is to grow your practice. At Network Affiliates, we keep our eyes on the prize — and the prize is results.
Here’s how we win that prize:
We align our thinking with yours, not the other way around.
We start all of our website projects by asking the law firm what they want out of it. The answer’s usually the same: “We want more cases.” We hear you — loud and clear. We are a response-drive agency. That means our job is to make a website that gets you what you want — namely, more cases. To do that, we’ll combine our expertise with yours. You know your business best, so we will dig in deep to find what sets you apart. You might have a lot of competition, but no other firm is just like yours. We know how to accentuate your differentiators.
You aren’t the first lawyers we’ve worked with.
Lawyers are a unique group. You’re driven. Your profession requires you to understand almost everything. As such, you’re bright people with higher-than-usual expectations and an appreciation for success. We love that about lawyers because it makes them great partners for growing a business. Our team knows how to work with lawyers and harness their passion. We’ve been doing it, quite successfully, for more than 20 years. As a matter of fact, our agency was founded by a lawyer, with the express purpose of helping other lawyers grow.
Websites might not be built with nuts, bolts, or motors, but make no mistake: they are machines. Build them right and oil them well.
Every aspect of your website’s performance matters. That’s true not only because you want to retain prospective clients by creating an enjoyable user experience but also because Google values a good user experience too.
Search engines have gotten so smart. It’s almost scary. They crawl your website and essentially experience it as a human would. Accordingly, your website will yield appreciably higher ROI if it is:
- Written well
- Easy to read
- Content rich
- Mobile friendly
- Frequently updated
- Easy on the eyes
- Optimized for keywords
- Cleanly scripted
- Popular among visitors
- Geo-targeted for specific locations
- Written with metadata in mind
- Strategically linked to other pages (both within and outside your domain)
- Ethical, per Google’s latest algorithm standards
- Coded with the very latest standards in HTML and other languages
Our Three Rules of Law Firm Website Design
Every single website is different. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. Too many legal marketers rely on digital boilerplate to roll out carbon-copy websites for their clients.
At Network Affiliates, we emphasize a customized, strategic, and cost-effective approach to law firm website design. That said, we have found a few “golden rules” that seem to ring true in virtually every website project we’ve launched over the years:
- First Impressions Are Everything. Studies show that visitors decide whether to stay on a website almost immediately upon seeing it. Think about your own experience as a website visitor — snap judgments are part of a web user’s M.O. Your site has mere milliseconds to make a solid impression. Does it load quickly? Is it visually pleasing (colors, fonts, layout)? Is it easy to navigate (not having to look too hard or dig too deep for information)? Does it inspire two-way communication (converting clicks into clients)?
- Credibility Is Your Greatest Asset. Visitors need to feel confident in your ability, affordability, and prowess as a law firm. After all, they have a ton of lawyers to choose from, and they want the best (at an affordable cost). Seventy-five percent of your visitors decide whether you meet that standard in the first few seconds on your site. But when they start probing, the content needs to support that first impression. Authentic and authoritative content is key. Let the visitor know who you are and, more to the point, show them that you know your stuff.
- Talk to People, Not Lawyers. Websites must read well, but you aren’t writing in the vernacular of people who use the world “vernacular.” Some law firms cater to a more widely educated demographic than others, but it’s possible that the person visiting your site has a 4th grade reading level — and a million-dollar case. Don’t lose a client because you don’t speak their language! Then again, you don’t want to “dumb down” your content either. At Network Affiliates, we work with expert legal content writers, building reader relationships while also capitalizing on SEO.
Get Real Results with a New Law Firm Website
Whether you’re looking for a brand-new website or a revolutionary facelift, Network Affiliates can help. Our eyes are always on the prize: results. We earn those results with proven, custom-crafted, and affordable strategies.
Whether you use us for your next website or not, we want to leave you with two FREE pieces of advice:
- The planning phase of a website is the most important part! It is critical that you and your vendor are on the same page before anyone presents a single design. It might not be the most fun part, nor the most riveting, and certainly not the most dazzling. But it is the part that impacts your ROI most directly. By setting objectives and mapping a path toward accomplishing them, we save our clients money and deliver websites that work better (and sooner) than our competitors.
- YOU ARE NOT THE AUDIENCE. (Neither are we.) Law firms and design agencies are both guilty of occasionally allowing their personal preferences to override experience, strategy, or data. Remember: while your website should authentically reflect who you are, the user experience should always be in the driver’s seat. At Network Affiliates, we design with the user in mind. Before we make changes, we’ll make sure you understand the rationale behind the design and the impact changes might have.
If you’d like to learn more about our law firm website design solutions, give us a call or contact us online. We’re here to make a difference.