December 09, 2020

Lawyer Web Design - Digital PR Expert Rene Perras Educates a New Breed of Lawyers

Usability is the number one priority when creating an attorney website, focusing on the clients’ needs is how your law firm can see an increase in inquiries. Updated on 11/26/2020-10/26/2011



Looking back over the last 9 years it has become clear that the legal community’s paradigm has been impacted by technological advancements along with being changed forever as a result of the pandemic. The evolution of the semantic web with semantic markup and schema architecture, meeting up with the Internet of things (IOT) or the web of things (WOT) begs the question; has anything changed when it comes to usability of law firm web design? Terms like user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are what legal web designers are communicating to managing partners of top national law firms. However, getting to that sweet spot where conversion happens and revenue is generated is a more difficult nut to crack, it requires science. 

Law Firm Equity

Every law firm looking for a customizable law firm website solution should be very conservative when trying to improve their current website. Valuable equity needs to be protected, by conserving existing website pages and their individual urls along with its respective content, this approach will be integral to preserving website equity. 

Law firm Imagery

Everyone is familiar with the phrase, that a picture is worth a thousand words. Does it take beautiful imagery in attorney website designs to convert prospects?  Do they need to be pleasing to the eye? In America, more often we are accustomed to selling the sizzle rather than the steak, appealing to our senses is what we are accustomed to. The belief that law firm imagery works, can be legitimate in some cases, but is surprisingly insufficient for most attorney websites. Law firm websites typically focus more on promoting the firm and their attorneys rather than on the future client’s pain points and how those can be addressed. Which can result in future clients not being driven to take action either by calling or filling out an online web form. Do you know what motivates your preferred client or ideal Avatar?

Law Firm Legal Technology

We live in a commodity driven culture where we believe that we can synthesize and understand complex problems. Law firm websites to the untrained eye appear to be simple to comprehend, websites can be seen, read and navigated, but the reality is they are a far more complex equation. They are built around one or more computer coding languages, either from an individual developer or by a community driven system of coders. Whether you have a custom or a template platform, the guts of your attorney website remains the engine that makes the vehicle go. It is based on 100’s of variables all working in unison, but without gas or SEO juice it will not get very far, this is what escapes the majority of lawyers as they have neither the training or desire to understand the critical technology behind all successful revenue generating websites. 

Law firm Website Engineering

Law firm website engineering and its technology can be more complex than being a computer engineer. The website engineer has to continuously adapt to an ever changing landscape and its search engine algorithms. It requires very important skill sets to assess whether your website has the proper elements woven into the structure that will be your primer for success. Everything from the important on-page factors or SEO framework, to off-page factors or important links that endorse your web property, these and many other variables will determine your potential to succeed in an ocean of competing lawyer websites. 

Understanding Expertise, Authority and Trust (EAT)

With nearly 30 years experience in marketing, designing, building and launching web platforms it has become clear that you cannot succeed without understanding EAT and how it has the ability to amplify your brand:

  1.   Expertise
  2.   Authority
  3.   Trust

These three factors if properly developed are by far the most critical components in branding both from a search engine perspective as well as how you are perceived by your audience. There is an important synergy that exists between both aspects. They will remain the primary reason why you become successful with each new and subsequent modification to your digital website asset which will continue to generate future clients for years to come.

Attorney Website Development 

Attorney website development requires an understanding of technology and all its' nuances, otherwise it will hinder your ability to make an informed decision. Where most attorneys go wrong is by looking at and then comparing themselves to their law firm competitor’s websites. There is no way for lawyers to know how their competition's law firm website is working or not working simply by browsing the site, whether their modifications are taking advantage of continued growth or the website isn’t working and that's the reason for the switch. This is the only metric for them, observing how their attorney peers continue to change, evolve and adapt, without any context can be problematic. Lawyers perceive their competition’s change as an improvement and their own website as stagnating, which confirms their conclusion that an upgrade is needed for it to work. This hypothesis is flawed, but it’s their perception that rules the day. Attorneys receive a call from one of the hundreds of web developers with their multitude of technologies and ideas. They hear the attorneys' dissatisfaction, fear and concern about spending more money to improve their digital asset, which for the law firm has become a bottomless personal money pit, in need of a continuous influx of cash. Web developers empathize, are understanding, and attempt to assuage their fears. You hope their solution will be your anxiety fix. Law firm web designers who are inexperienced will hope to reassure the lawyer that theirs is the preferred solution, like the many previous web developers that have come before them. Could it be that simple, or is it the definition of insanity repeating the same thing over again thinking this time it will be different? 

Five Important Points to Consider

  1. Know the legal specialization you excel in and focus on communicating that expertise. 
  2. How important is testing and data analysis when designing websites for lawyers?
  3. Develop authoritative mentions from local, regional and national news sites.
  4. Knowing your audience is critical. How can you go about constructing your Avatar?
  5. Amplify and enhance your expertise, develop authority and become trusted by clients and search engines. 

Law Firm Intake and Acquisition During a Pandemic

A constant stream of attorney clients is the lifeblood of all successful law firms. Answering a new client inquiry requires skill, focus and a set protocol to follow. It starts with a well thought out script and training of such key personnel as a dedicated client intake coordinator. In theory, it doesn’t appear like it could be that hard to answer the phone, but in practice, calls get missed, go to voicemail, are dropped and not called back. Staff lack training, get busy, are overworked and may lack empathy, all of which results in missed client opportunities. I have witnessed millions of dollars in future client awards and recoveries lost because there was no real system in place. Having a streamlined intake protocol secures new prospects by ensuring the call is answered in an effective manner, it also helps to address many possible contingencies that may occur. If it can go wrong it will at some point unless there is a system that ensures the protocol is adhered to. The pandemic has required attorneys to get creative in order to continue functioning in a new perilous business environment. It has forced them into developing a system to protect their staff and their clients equally. The utilization of a myriad of online video conferencing softwares to handle meeting with clients virtually rather than in person has become a critical step in new client acquisition. The early adopters will soon realize that the virtual process flow will facilitate an improved quality of life for everyone involved. Having legal document software to secure retainer agreements with new clients is becoming a necessary part of doing business. Certified e-signatures are all part of the many software companies offering these online services. Even when we get back some form of what has been lost due to the pandemic and regain some normalcy, it will be 12-18 months before our psyche has recovered when a vaccine is available. Even then, we may not see the need to fully go back to the old fashion way of meeting in person. 

Law Firm Case Study -  Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer 

Our team managed a law firm website for over 5 years for a leading Philadelphia car accident lawyer. After reviewing and assessing their existing 3rd generation website, we developed and launched their new state of the art website, built on wordpress (open source platform CMS) with a custom developed theme optimized for SEO, page speed, mobile responsiveness factors that were essential for optimal usability that follow Google’s best practice. Additionally, we also added schema architecture to facilitate indexing, which is favored by Google, for this top Philly car wreck lawyer. In the beginning traffic to this top Philadelphia PA auto accident lawyer was paltry, hovering around 200 visits per month.We took their existing attorney website from an existing bounce rate or exit rate of over 80% and lowered that to under 3% on the new site. After the implementation of their new properly structured law firm website and digital and content marketing campaign, we were consistently able to increase prospective client traffic. As we neared the end of our engagement this attorney website project was averaging nearly 10000 new visits per month. 80% of their search traffic was based on keyword intent, 15% was coming from syndicated news articles, press releases and authority content, and 5% from brand name search traffic. We were able to achieve ranking for over 3000+ long tail keywords and phrases eg., Philly truck accident lawyer near me, best Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer and top Philadelphia injury lawyers. Tracking and analytics were incorporated with designated telephone numbers to identify attribution. The team assisted in reputation management to help deprecate negative reviews for their brand name. We were able to rank authoritative web assets within the first two Google search results pages, pushing the negative mentions to page three. We helped cultivate real client endorsements with genuine testimonials, this and much more we achieved through the course of our engagement. Key takeaway: Before this engagement the law firm was spending $80K+ per month in promoting Philly car injury cases on TV, which resulted in soft tissue and catastrophic injury cases. Conversely our digital marketing and PR with holistic SEO out performed their TV advertising. We have many case studies like this for: San Francisco car accident lawyer, Bay area injury lawyer, Dallas car accident attorney, New Mexico car wreck lawyer, big rig lawyer near the Texas panhandle. If you would like to discuss this case study with us, please connect with me on linkedin so we can get to know you and your law firm in 2021.

What the Future Holds for Attorneys and Our Fellow Americans 

As we continue to move forward while adapting to these ever changing times managing our expectations for our work and personal lives we’ll become increasingly important. We are all weighing the safety and the soundness of our choices versus the risk and the reward. Whether we are meeting a new client in the office or seeing our families for the holidays either doing it in person or online, making an informed decision has become so crucial that our lives may well depend upon it. Finding web professionals that understand and can provide you with an Internet blueprint to map out your project, establish benchmarks and provide you with a timeline in which they will deliver as promised is how it should be. When developing a website the goal is to generate business, if it isn't realized immediately or worst yet not delivered as promised by inexperienced web developers, the process becomes mentally taxing. It’s easy to get tired, lose interest and then fatigue sets in. Staying the course and remaining vigilant appears to be what Americans and the rest of the world are meeting up with today. Understanding how the pandemic behaves as well as complex concepts like website schema architecture takes time, patience and focus in order to correctly interpret the theory behind it all, otherwise it can have a disastrous outcome. Being conservative or cautious in these challenging times is not a sign of weakness, but rather a demonstration in courage, in the long run it can only benefit our families, businesses and our fellow Americans as we live in this new world order.

Read my previous research that I published on 10/26/2011 and see what have changed for you. 

Lawyer Web design today is much different than it was 10 years ago, because now there is an immense amount of interactive and flashy tools and features that you can incorporate into your lawyer website. Many law firms are looking for that “wow factor” and want to stand out from the competition when creating their law firm’s website. But, the bells and whistles could actually overshadow your law firm’s core message.

Too often we focus on the bells and whistles that come with a website and miss the core message that our prospects/clients want and need to see. Instead of focusing on the “wow”—focus on your audience, who is on your lawyer website for a reason: They need a qualified attorney to represent their case. 

The focus should always be on the user experience, not on what massages our egos or the programmer uses to impress you. Usability should be the top priority when working with a web designer to create your attorney website; because if the potential client can’t navigate your page easily, then you’re not going to get new cases. In fact, a flashy site can be more cumbersome to navigate. 

A few areas of usability an effective lawyer website should focus on include:

• Navigability: Visitors to your lawyer website should be able to easily locate all your information on the site through navigation menus, search boxes and links. Having a well-placed navigation bar, like on the top of the website, can help your potential clients find and access important information easily. This will help eliminate your website’s bounce rate and keep people on your lawyer website.

• Readability: Consumers are on your lawyer website to learn more about your law firm, so give them something to read. Having quality content on your website’s pages, which isn’t heavy in legal jargon, can help give the potential client a better experience and help SEO efforts. Incorporating a law firm blog on your site is also another good idea to create content and establish confidence with the potential client. 

• Accessibility: Almost everyone needs a lawyer at some point, including people with disabilities. Incorporating features that cater to the disabled can broaden your reach with potential clients. In addition, the mobile Web is an up and coming avenue in which people are accessing the web. Making your lawyer website mobile Web-friendly will allow people who are using smartphones, tablets, iPads, web-enabled TVs and game consoles to access your website easily. By failing to include these features, your law firm can miss out on a large pool of consumers who are seeking the assistance of an attorney. 

• Speed:  If your website is taking more than a minute to load, chances are people are clicking off as fast as they clicked onto your attorney website. Having a fast website is key in eliminating the bounce rate and keeping potential clients from leaving your site for another lawyer website. In today’s society no one has patience, so if it’s taking forever for a consumer to access your website’s information, they are likely just going to move on to the next lawyer website.

• Experience: Overall, this is the most important factor for your lawyer website. If potential clients don’t have a good experience while visiting your site, then they are likely not going to call your law firm to speak with an attorney. The best way to find out how well consumers are experiencing your website is to talk to them about it and ask them to fill out a survey about your website. Through that information, you and your web designer can work together to make your website fit better to the consumers needs. 

About the writer Rene Perras Organic Website Growth Expert for Law Firms 

Rene Perras is a lawyer website consultant, who has worked alongside law firms of all types to help build effective lawyer Internet marketing campaigns for over 20 years. For a free consultation about an attorney website, please contact Rene Perras at 720-ONE-RENE or visit Cepac.com

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Source: Rene Perras Legal Advisory
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