Last year, our research into digital marketing and business development indicated that only 13% of Australasian law firms have websites that are highly effective at generating new business enquiries. At its best, this is what your professional services firm website should be doing.
Form or substance?
If you think your professional services firm website needs a new look, you may be right – designs can date very quickly, especially in this hyper-digital era. A mobile-responsive design is a must, for example.
The problem is, too many firms think a new look will overcome the problem of outdated, irrelevant, or poorly thought out content. So before you get caught up in the excitement of creating a bold new design, remember what is most important to your audience: valuable content.
Stylish and modern web design may capture initial attention, but if you don’t have the right content, clients and prospective clients will quickly move on (to your competitors). Invest in good content for your website to build your firm’s credibility and get a return on your investment.
A well designed (not flashy or distracting) website will support and enhance quality content. Effective design will make it easy for visitors to navigate your site, find what they need, and get in touch with you if they like what they see. But good design will never mask poor content, and savvy visitors will quickly disengage with your site.
The five steps below will help you review your firm website and make smart decisions about where to invest your time and resources.
1 Take stock of your existing website
Before rushing off to engage a web designer, make the time to properly evaluate the content on your existing website. You need to know what’s working and what’s not before making changes.
It may be that you don’t need a full-scale re-design (because substantial structural changes to your website may negatively impact factors like rankings and search traffic), but if you want your website to generate enquiries, make sure you have a plan for delivering quality content.
Pro tip: Make sure you have Google Analytics set up for your site, and become familiar with traffic patterns, popular pages, engagement (“clicks”). A word of caution: beware of making assumptions based on the data – just because your home page gets a lot of visits, doesn’t mean it’s working (is it translating into new business enquiries? Are visitors exploring other pages on your site?).
2 Set realistic goals
Keep your website ambitions realistic and focussed. Instead of making your site bigger and flashier, make it better. Concentrate on simple and functional before getting fancy.
Pro tip: Try Hubspot’s free website grader tool for a quick assessment of your site against key metrics like performance, mobile readiness, SEO, and security. If you score poorly, this assessment can be a great starting point to work through with your current website developer.
3 Test your website content and messages
If the website functions fine and looks OK, ask yourself whether your website content communicates these essentials:
- Is the information you’re providing relevant and useful to your audience?
- Does it answer their questions?
- Is it up-to-date, clearly written, and logically structured?
- Are your services well described and expressed?
- Is it easy for visitors to see who you are, what you do, and who you do it for?
- Is it easy for prospective clients to make contact with you?
Effective website content is less about how great your firm is, and more about what benefits and results you deliver to prospective clients.
Pro tip: Ask a client or a contact from outside the firm to review your website and answer the questions above – they will give you a more objective assessment. If your website doesn’t rate well on its content, you will need more than a just a new look to get real value from your online presence.
4 Understand your audience
Understanding your audience will help you develop content that will draw them in. Before you revise or create content, consider this: Who is it you want to reach? What information is of value to them? What is your current team and service line up?
Before investing in new features like video and digital flipbooks, be sure that your audience wants and values them. The critical question for you should be: “will investing in this digital exercise result in bringing new work through the door?”
5 Maintain the website
Once the function, looks and content are sorted, if your website is to be more than a static digital brochure, you will need to have someone responsible for maintaining it. That may be a part-time or full time internal resource, or a web agency on a retainer, for example.
A website redesign is not a discrete project that ends when the new site goes live. It is an on-going activity to maintain. It’s very easy for even basic content to fall out of date. Does your website suffer from any of these?
- Your “latest news” page was last updated in 2012.
- Your firm blog languished after three posts, last dated more than a year ago.
- You have staff profiles for people who left the firm months ago.
- You don’t have staff profiles for people who have been with you for months.
- Your list of services doesn’t reflect the focus of the business anymore.
Fresh content will not only keep your site relevant, it will also help boost visitor numbers through better search rankings.
It’s important to design the website function, look and content around what your audience (clients, prospective clients and referral sources) want, need and expect see to verify you as a “right choice” provider.
If you want to learn more, download a free copy of our research report, Winning Work in a Digital World, to find out what areas to focus on to make the most of your firm website and online presence.
Talk to us – we can help.
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Remember, nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply Albert Einstein was spot-on when he said “nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply”. Tenders, bids, proposals, and informal pitches for business are not times to show how clever and capable you are by using legalese (I’m looking at you lawyers), […]