When a client walks into your lobby what’s the first thing they do?
Admire the wall of beautiful art or well-lit founders' portraits? Take in the fresh flower display that’s rotated on a weekly basis?
No. They head to the receptionist and ask to be directed to the person they are trying to visit.
Websites are the virtual lobbies of today. And much like lobbies and conference rooms, websites are a means to an end.
In fact, the truth is more than half (56%) of clients never visit their law firm’s website. Remember, clients expect to learn everything they need to know from their partner. There’s no need to go to the site.
But don’t delete your URL just yet. It’s time to put your website to more strategic use.
The clients who do visit your website—go for one reason only—attorney bios. “I have no time to read the news and updates—if they’re important, my partner will tell me.”
1. The Only Thing Your Clients Want
Contact information. End of story. A law firm website needs to make it easy for clients to find attorney bios. Not just easy—über easy.
The average C-level exec spends about 2 minutes on a business website. But BTI’s research reveals clients are stuck spending anywhere from 21 seconds to well over 2 minutes (an eternity on the web) searching for an attorney bio—before they reach the information they need.
Think like the client to make their experience easy. Offer search capabilities on first and last names. Allow for nickname searches (Andy instead of Andrew) and misspellings (Smith and Smyth). The more search possibilities, the better: niche specialties, office locations, first letter of last name, etc.
2. What Your Website Is Really For
With less than half of current clients visiting your website, think about who is actually reading those pages. Your website is the virtual lobby for a different population: press and media, recruits, lateral hires, competitors, and—of course—potential clients.
Law firm websites need to tell your firm’s story to the people who don’t know it. Your website should mirror your actual lobby—amazing, welcoming and useful. Make sure the content has been designed with the user’s needs first.
What do these visitors want? Information. They are scoping you out and only seek answers to a few key questions:
· What services do you provide? How much depth is there?
· Have you won any recognition for providing these services? I’m looking for a reputable provider…not just any law firm offering to handle my bet-the-company case.
· Who will vouch for you? Who do I know who might use this firm?
· Which attorneys might I be working with if I used your firm?
· And now that you’ve sated my initial curiosity, how do I get in touch with you?
Answer these key questions for visitors as quickly as possible. Clients look for clarity in navigation and want law firm websites to be:
· Direct: Skip the clever labels and stick to straightforward descriptions (“Practice Offerings” is clearer than “How We Serve Clients”).
· Intuitive: Put links in a place where the eye falls. Remember this is your lobby; the goal is to get people to their destination as quickly as possible—not looking at the artwork.
· Responsive: Clients access information from every device imaginable—set your site up to accommodate them all. Provide access to key information from every page: services and contact information.
Also, keep this in mind: the next time you upgrade your website, you may be better served surveying potential clients instead of current clients for insight—they are your real target.