Does your website and MAMBO NO.5 have something in common?
It was not so long ago that many law firms viewed a website as a “brochure” on the internet and to a large extent that’s what it was.…..in 1999. My 13 year old daughter calls this the dinosaur era (before she was born).
In 1999 the Euro was born, MAMBO NO.5 by Lou Bega (who??) was top of the charts and the world welcomed its 6 billionth person, the internet had less than 300 million users and there were no smart phones.
Fast forward to 2014 and the internet has grown to nearly 3 billion users (www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/ ) and the global smartphone audience will total 1.75 billion in 2014. (emarketer.com)
Against that backdrop and while it might be a daunting task, it is critically important that you review and update your law firm website now. While you may not know who Lou Bega is (does anybody?) you can be sure that many visitors to your website are viewing it on a mobile device. The other certainty is that many law firm websites are not displaying properly on those mobile devices.
Sure, this is a problem. On the other hand it also creates an opportunity that you should not miss…..to not only make your website look good on a smartphone but to overhaul the site to make sure the content is current, navigation is easy and the information on your site is interesting and helpful.
Your online presence
A website is your opportunity to showcase your law firm online, for most small law firms a website represents their entire online presence.
Perception is everything on the internet, if your website does not have the content your visitors want or doesn’t look and function as expected people will go elsewhere.
Typically, if visitors to your website can’t find the information they need quickly and easily or the content they want is not there or is not regularly updated they will find it somewhere else.
Why would they ever visit the site again?
The smartphone revolution
It is quite likely that you are reading this article on a mobile device (42% of our newsletter articles are read on mobile devices).
Smart phones have revolutionised the way we use, view and interact with websites online and your clients are no different.
In 2010, internet research firm comScore predicted that mobile users would surpass desktop users within five years, utilizing data available from Morgan Stanley.
According to comScore this actually happened in February 2014 in the US with mobile making up 55% of Internet usage. PCs clocked in at 45%.
Australians have adopted smartphones and tablets faster than consumers in many other developed countries.
It’s a mobile world
Older websites are difficult to view and navigate on mobile devices. Newer websites use a technique called responsive design, the website detects the type of device the viewer is using and responds according, looking good and functioning properly on all devices.
The simple fact is that your website needs to be mobile friendly due to the proliferation of smartphones and their increasing use for web browsing.
This alone should be a compelling reason to update your website.
Check now to see what your website looks like on the smaller screen of a smartphone.
Keep your website content current
Ensuring that visitors to a law firm website get the high standard of user experience and the information that they expect should be a major focus of all law firms.
Reviewing and maintaining your website should not be a “one off” it should be an ongoing process, the content on the site should always be up to date and accurately reflect your brand and the image you want your law firm to project.
Just as you would not allow incomplete or inaccurate legal documents to leave your law firm you should not allow old, incomplete or inaccurate information to represent your law firm to the world.
A lot has changed in website design and functionality in the last 2 years let alone the last five to ten years.
So, what are the critical factors that you should take into account in a review of your website? Here is a short list to help you start the review.
Your website acts as a showcase of your firm to the world, it is your primary online presence. Does it look dated? Does it accurately portray the image that you want, are the colours right? Is the logo correct?
Critically, the content on your website needs to be up to date. There should not be links to sections of your website that don’t exist, if you have a news or articles section keep it up to date.
The content needs to be helpful and engaging so that your clients keep coming back.
It’s not all about you, it’s about the problems that you can solve for your clients and how your legal expertise will help them.
Hopefully by now you are convinced that your website needs to be optimised for mobile devices.
Stock images are great if you have no other photos but these images (particularly of people) should be regarded as temporary. Your clients would prefer to see photos of you and your team, rather than smiling people they don’t know and it helps to create a connection if the photos are of people they know or might meet.
The speed at which your website loads is important because it impacts on your users experience on your site and because Google takes this into account when ranking your site in search.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
There is no point having a great website if no one can find you. Fresh and up to date content that contains the keywords that your target clients would type into Google when searching for legal services is a great starting point to improve your chances of being found.
Consumers have a choice, they do their research online before deciding to buy things, including legal services. Making sure your website helps them choose your law firm is more important now than it has ever been.