Attorney and Law Firm Website Design Services

Archive for the 'Good Reads/Tips' Category

Google Yourself; Converting Referrals and Controlling Your Image is a Key Website Goal

Monday, October 16th, 2006

There are many reasons why a law firm should have a website but few of them apply across all firm types and sizes as well as referral conversion and online image control. If you do not have a website, there is no telling what will appear when a prospective client searches for your name. In fact, check yourself out by visiting Google and searching for yourself.

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective client. If they have your name from a referral and decide to look you up online, what to they see, in what order to they see it, and is it easy to find you? If the answers to those questions aren’t coming up in your favor, you’re losing the best type of business there is.

To learn more about the benefits of websites for attorneys and law firms, continue to explore our website and our work. Or, simply give us a call and pick our brains, we’re always happy to talk.

Minnesota Lawyer: Assessing Your Law Firm’s Online Marketing Strategy

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Reprinted With Permission of Minnesota Lawyer

Assessing your law firm’s online marketing strategy

A Website need not be elaborate to be effective

By Michelle Lore | August 14, 2006
michelle.lore@minnlawyer.com

View PDF Copy of this article

There is no good reason for a law firm not to have a Website, at least according to Web designer Brendan Chard, who last week spoke at a MinnCLE conference devoted to solo and small firm practitioners.

A Website need not be elaborate to be effective, Chard told the crowded room of attorneys. “The primary information your Website needs to include is who you are, why you are great and how to get in touch with you,” he said.

Chard’s comments were made during “Websites and Online Marketing — Make Them Work For You” — one of many continuing legal education (CLE) seminars offered at the second “Strategic Solutions for Solo and Small Firms” conference in Duluth. The 2 ½ day event was sponsored by Minnesota CLE.

Chard’s presentation showed audience members how to make a Website a key part of their marketing operations and demystified how Web sites, search engines and online advertising work.

A Website is just one piece of the marketing puzzle, Chard said. “But it’s a big piece that can help create a more cohesive image for your firm.”

Why have one?

According to Chard, who specializes in designing Websites for small law firms, there are several benefits to having a Website. The first is that a well-designed site can be a very effective marketing tool.

“It integrates all your marketing; it pulls it all together,” Chard observed. It can also control the law firm’s image and increase referrals to the firm, he said.

Chard pointed out that often the first thing people do after getting attorney referrals is look up the lawyers’ names on the Internet. If the first lawyer does not have a Website, people will move on to the next name on the list, he said.

A Website can also generate cold calls, Chard noted.

The second purpose of having a Website is its utility.

A good Website will streamline communication between a potential client and the law firm, said Chard.

By including on the site what the firm does, directions to the office and contact information, attorneys and staff can avoid having to answer phone calls seeking this information.

All inclusive

Chard told audience members that the most important things to include on their Websites are attorney profiles and contact information.

The contact information should include the law firm’s address, directions to the office, a phone number and an e-mail address. A map to the office is also helpful, Chard added.

The attorney profiles should include things like:

  • the attorney’s educational information;
  • the courts the attorney is licensed in;
  • the attorney’s direct phone number and e-mail address; and
  • a summary or bullet points of the areas the attorney practices in.

Chard also advises putting a photo of the attorney on the Website. People want to know what the lawyer looks like, he said.

Other information that could be included on a law firm Website, although not as crucial includes:

  • relevant articles the attorney has authored;
  • reasons potential clients should choose the attorney to do their legal work;
  • favorable news clippings that mention the attorney;
  • achievements or awards the attorney has won;
  • a list of frequently asked questions and answers;
  • a newsletter if the attorney or firm publishes one;
  • helpful information or links to other sites; and
  • documents such as intake forms that can be printed off, filled out and sent in.

Chard said it is also be a good idea to include a list of representative clients and people the attorney has worked with in the past.

The error of their ways

Chard has seen a lot of errors in law firm Web designs over the years.

The primary mistake, Chard said, is to design the site yourself. You are attorneys, not Web designers, he stressed. “Let the professionals do what professionals do.”

Another mistake is burying the attorney’s contact information. “Make sure it’s easy to find,” he said.

In addition, some lawyers load the site up with things like high-quality photos or graphics that slow down the site’s performance. Attention spans on the Web are short so be sure your information comes up without much delay, Chard stressed. “Make sure your Website is quick.”

Finally, avoid leaving your Website “under construction,” Chard observed. “It’s a sign of laziness and an inability to get things done. … It doesn’t look good. It’s not a sign of progress and growth,” he said.

Chard encouraged attendees to find a good Web designer. He suggested asking around to find out who other attorneys have used, searching the Web for someone or placing an ad at Minneapolis.craigslist.com.

Remember, low cost does not always mean good, Chard emphasized. It takes time to develop an effective site and it’s not an easy process, he added.

Debunking myths

Chard took some time to “debunk” several of the Website myths that pervade the Internet.

If you build it, they will come. That’s not necessarily true, Chard observed. It takes time and effort to design a Website that will show up prominently in search engines, he said.

Websites are hard to change. Not true, said Chard. “It’s easy to make changes right on the fly.”

There’s a page limit. Also not true, according to Chard. There should be no limit, and it’s easy to make additional pages, he said.

It’s the only marketing tool you will ever need. A Website is not the only marketing tool an attorney should have, but it should be the centerpiece, Chard contends. All other marketing and advertising efforts should pull potential clients towards the Website to deliver a more complete message.

Marketing tricks

There are a variety of ways to market your Website, according to Chard.

Options include advertising the site in lawyers’ directories and referral sources, conducting an e-mail campaign to everyone in your address book, or advertising it in more traditional forms like print, television or radio.

One of the most effective ways to market your site, however, Chard observed, is through search optimization. When people are searching the Internet looking for a lawyer in a particular practice area or geographic area, you want your name to come up at the top of their results list. There are ways to optimize the chance of that happening, according to Chard.

Chard explained that when pulling up Websites in response to a user search, search engines like Google and Yahoo consider a variety of factors, including:

  • page content;
  • keyword density (i.e. how many times a work like “injury” shows up on the site);
  • titles on the pages;
  • the number of pages on the site;
  • the content-to-size ratio;
  • inbound and outbound links;
  • the age of the site; and

All of these factors influence how high up on the rankings list your site will be, said Chard.

A “sponsored search” is another way to direct people to your Website, Chard continued. Under this marketing method, attorneys request that their site be prominently displayed on a user’s results list following a search. Attorneys pay the search engine a set amount every time someone clicks on their site. They can narrow it down to a geographic area they’ve defined or a specific practice area, Chard explained.

“You are driving a totally targeted [audience] to your site,” Chard observed. It can get expensive, but it can also be very effective if it’s done right, he added.

The advantages of a sponsored search are that the attorney’s site is given instant visibility, the attorney can target traffic and there are no long-term contracts or commitments required.

Websites are a key marketing tool

Attorney coach and continuing legal education (CLE) presenter Roy S. Ginsburg of Minnetonka recently put in his 2 cents regarding the importance of law firm Websites to an audience of solo and small firm attorneys.

During a CLE presentation on ethical marketing skills — part of Minnesota CLE’s 2 ½ day conference on “Strategic Solutions for Solo and Small Firms” in Duluth — Ginsburg referred to law firm Websites as a very important part of marketing. He acknowledged that Yellow Page ads are effective and do work, but noted that it’s important to include a Website address within the ad so people can go to the site to learn more about the attorney. “You really, really need one,” Ginsburg stressed.

In addition, make the Website pleasing to the eye, Ginsburg continued, opining that a person who reviews the sites of two equally qualified lawyers will most likely contact the one with the nicest site.

If you have two attorneys and they each have a Website, the more professional looking site will get the first phone call, Ginsburg observed. “It’s human nature,” he said.

During his presentation, Ginsburg also stressed the need for the content of the Website — and all other marketing material — to convey accurate information. Any false and misleading content on Websites, in advertising material or in conversations, will violate Minnesota’s ethical rules, Ginsburg observed.

Tips for e-mail sanity

Monday, April 10th, 2006

There is a growing movement of good people out there called “Life Hackers.” Life hacks are tips and ideas to improve efficiency and get things off your mind, they generally have a technology slant. Some of the best commentary and thoughts on this topic can be found on www.43folders.com.

A few of the tips I’ve found most useful pertain to managing the ever bulging e-mail inbox. 43folders.com recently ran a series of posts called “Inbox Project Zero” I’ve implemented a few of the suggestions in my office and have found them to be very useful. The goal is primarily to put the e-mail user back in charge of their inbox and schedule by lessening the distractions created by e-mail.

1) Turn off new e-mail notices and alerts. With many of us sitting at our computers and running e-mail programs all day the beep or pop-up alerting that a new message has arrived is an instant distraction to the task currently at hand. Instead, simply check your e-mail on your schedule. Whether it’s every 20-30 minutes like myself, every 2-4 hours or just once a day give yourself permission to check e-mail on the schedule that works for your situation instead of the every few seconds demanded by your e-mail program.

2) Aim for zero. Try to leave your inbox either empty or with all of your messages read at the end of each day. It’s comforting to know that everything that has been sent your way has been given your attention. If you’re on a mailing list or have received a number of e-mails you know you don’t need to read, you can often right-click these messages one-by-one or in a group and mark them as read.

3) Filter it out. If you’re on mailing lists or often receive messages that don’t need replies or action, use filters in your e-mail program to move those out of your inbox and into another folder. This will keep the most important e-mails in your inbox, make important things easier to find, and make the massive amount of e-mails you may get seem less daunting.

4) Use flags. Many e-mail programs have an option to flag messages for follow-up. That way, you can visually keep track of messages you may need to act on, but can’t do so immediately. Try right-clicking an e-mail message to see if you have flagging and follow-up alert options in your program.

For more tips, see the archive of Inbox Zero posts at: http://www.43folders.com/izero/

Blackberry Thumb | Brain Numb

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Six years ago when I unpacked my very first Blackberry wireless e-mail device I was elated. I could now receive e-mail anywhere, instantly. Better than that I could respond to messages and completely conceal the fact that I was not dutifully sitting in front of my computer just waiting for new messages. It was the realization of the “I’m my own boss I make my own schedule” declaration/feeling/complex/illusion. Over the years I upgraded from the black and white small screen model, to the black and white large screen and then to the color large screen with international capabilities (more on the international in a minute).

Between the blackberry, new remote access capabilities, an e-mail support ticket system, and an after hours telephone follow-me service I was getting more done. I could golf and e-mail, eat dinner and update websites, and watch TV while doing server updates.

Then it hit me… even after I left the office I was always working. It seemed perfectly normal to catch up on odds and ends after hours. But with the blackberry always beeping, always up to date with the latest e-mail even when I wasn’t
actively working my mind was always on work. The problem with the timing of this realization was that it occurred on my Honeymoon in Italy with the ever capable Blackberry (with international access) beeping away and taking me “away.”

This condition has been coined “Continuous Partial Attention” and it occurs when multi-tasking or in the presence of devices, such as a Blackberry or Cell Phone that interrupt and are always demanding attention.

I improved the situation by turning off all Blackberry notifications and noises but when the battery died a few months back I made the tough but un-regrettable decision to retire the device to the trashcan. I realized that I already had systems in place so that I could be reached in a true business emergency and that unless something came in over the emergency line it could wait until the next day.

Here are some related links on Blackberries and Continuous Partial Attention:

(Some) Attention Must Be Paid!
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11899893/site/newsweek/

Blackberry users learning painful lesson
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-10-20-blackberry-thumb_x.htm

Creating a strong password system

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

We all know that we have too many passwords. Between pin numbers, e-mail, online shopping, voicemail, company networks, home security and various memberships the number of passwords we have to remember is staggering. I personally counted 38 activities that require passwords on a regular basis, as in at least once a week. Sometimes I get so bogged down I think I need a password just to get out of bed. But this is how it goes, with the ability to access and store information in more places, passwords are not going away anytime soon. With the acceptance that you need passwords I hope that this article will help you understand what sort of attacks your passwords will have to endure and why it’s important to have a strong system for creating them. (more…)