Your website's health is critical to the success of your online marketing efforts. Your website is a workhorse that serves many roles. It may be the first introduction potential clients have to your firm, it may serve as an informational resource, and it may simply confirm your professionalism and authority for referrals. In any capacity, your website should be generating leads for your firm.
Unfortunately, both design and technical issues can act as conversion deterrents. Poor functionality or a confusing user experience may cause visitors to lose trust in your firm before they even meet you.
Similarly, a lack of certain features can be a barrier to conversion. These are features that may seem trivial but their presence can relieve substantial frustration on the part of visitors. Here are four things your website may be missing that are worth the time and investment it would take to add them.
1. A robust, functional search
Here is the good news: Visitors who do not initially see exactly what they need on a landing page are not necessarily lost. If a visitor is looking for information about a specific topic, he or she will take some time to try to find that information, even if it is not immediately obvious. You have less than a second to make a positive first impression, but a visitor will stay on your site for a few more if he or she thinks it can provide answers.
Many people, if they do not understand a website's architecture or are unfamiliar with how a firm might categorize its services, will turn to a search feature to find the information they need. If your search is robust and your results page helpful, you may earn a phone call. If not, you might lose a lead.
Search is often an afterthought on an attorney website, and it should not be. As the number of people performing research on legal topics continues to increase, so will the number of people attempting to search for things on your website. A good search feature can encourage conversions if it helps these individuals. Consider taking search one step further and implementing a predictive search feature, with which you can suggest topics, pages and other content to visitors who might not know exactly what terms to enter.
2. Good error handling
Sometimes, things break. A page may have been removed without proper forwarding. A visitor might fill out a form field incorrectly. The result, in any case, is a website error.
Errors will happen, and they do not have to be fatal blows to your visitor-website relationship. For example, if you have taken the time to set up a helpful 404 page — one that contains alternative article suggestions and a robust search — then a brief glitch can be turned into an opportunity to better serve your visitors.
In addition to setting up a 404 page, make sure that your form errors are simple and helpful. If someone has not filled out a field correctly, he or she should be given clear directions that outline the error and that explain how to successfully complete and submit the form.
3. Great photography
Many firms are beginning to recognize the need for custom photography in both online and offline marketing. People who are looking for an attorney want to connect with real attorneys, not a stock family or a cold courthouse.
Professional photography will not only help make your website look great, it will also serve to reinforce your humanity. Good photography will draw out the personalities of your attorneys and staff and give visitors a sense of your firm's character. When visitors can connect with your attorneys on an emotional level, they are more likely to feel as though they can trust you and talk to you.
4. Engaging bios
Bios, as with photography, are slowly beginning to earn the respect they are due. Attorney bio pages are some of the most visited pages on a law firm website. People are looking for information about the individual who may be representing them and are often presented only with a short, resume-style bulleted list.
Professionally, the list of articles you have had published in professional journals is impressive. This is inarguable. However, non-attorney visitors have little context for such information, and it is incredibly unlikely any will try to look up an article on your list and read it. Therefore, listing such information, without other personality-driven details, gives your visitors no reason to remember your bio over any other.
Your bio should give visitors a glimpse at who you are and what it is like to work with you. It should show off your personality, describe what distinguishes you from other attorneys and explain to potential clients what drove you to practice in your area of law. What motivates you?
A robust attorney bio is an asset, and you may also consider adding interactive features, like tabs that feature videos, blog posts, quotes, testimonials and results.
This is not to say that your bio should not also list significant accomplishments, work history, education and yes, even professional articles. However, these items should be supplemented by information about who you are and why visitors should work with you — information that strikes a deeper chord than a bulleted list can.