As we approach the new decade with anticipation and hope, we can look back and be thankful that Internet marketing has evolved away from brochure-ware Web sites to more tailored, intuitive, user-driven experiences that provide quick answers, easy transactions and the desired information to visitors. The result is visitor loyalty.
Law firm Web sites have dramatically improved since I created the original Ten Foundational Best Practices list in 2005. The original research study, in which a qualified team first reviewed the then AmLaw 100 Web Sites, highlighted that America's top law firms were spending collective millions on their Web sites, yet were not providing good visitor experiences.
That White Paper set precedent by identifying ten Foundational Best Practices for law firm Web sites. It was the first full-scale report on how the legal industry is faring with its online marketing efforts, based on an objective analysis of the AmLaw 100 Web sites. As noted in the introduction to the 2005 White Paper:
The benchmarks established here clearly show what is being done well and what can be done better. It is a must read for anyone wishing to learn how to maximize the usability and memorability of a law firm Web site.
It was an exhaustive undertaking evaluating the AmLaw 100 Web sites based on the Ten Foundational Best Practices. We completed the research in 2006 and 2007, and wrote another White Paper based on the 2006 research. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in receiving a copy of this White Paper.
We will conduct the research in 2010, again analyzing the AmLaw 100 Web sites - based on the 2010 Ten Foundational Best Practices below. Over the next few blog posts, I'll describe in detail each Foundational Best Practice and the attributes within it.
If you are interested in a Ten Foundational Best Practices audit of your Web site, please email or phone me at 214.351.9690. You'll get a detailed roadmap for your next Web site upgrade or overhaul.
Remember -- these best practices are must-haves; they are foundational. If law firms follow the guidelines within the Ten Foundational Best Practices, visitors to their Web sites will:
- Quickly find the information they want and need
- Realize the differences in strategy, values, scope, reach and strength from one firm to the next
- Return to find out more.
2010 Ten Foundational Best Practices
- Communicating your message (the first impression your Web site makes, what does it say about you?)
- Graphic design (these are the objective criteria your design must meet, from browser resolution to whether they are mobile-friendly)
- Navigation (is it intuitive, easy? Is everything cross-linked that should be?)
- Lawyer biographies (the most important pages of your Web site, are your bios working as hard as they should?)
- Narrative content (this includes practice/industry descriptions, news/events/publications, etc. -- is it visitor/client-focused?)
- Web site interactivity and outreach (this is a dynamic medium, how well are you connecting and interacting with visitors?)
- Site search (this isn't about searching, it's about finding the great content on your site)
- Site optimization for online search (SEO - what are the foundational things you should do to improve your organic search results?)
- Firm citizenship (increasingly important, say corporate counsel)
- Site "hygiene" (the Web site equivalent to spinach in your teeth -- what is getting in the way of a visitor having a perfect experience with your site?)
Stay tuned for the discussion of each of the Ten Foundational Best Practices.