Whether you’re starting your very first website, or adding an additional site to your firm’s marketing portfolio, there’s a cost-efficient way to do it that will set you up for success, whatever your short-term and long-term marketing goals are.
Creating a new law firm website is an investment in your firm’s future. Like any investment, it can be profitable or it can be draining. The best thing that you can do for your firm’s long-term success is to take time before you start a new website to define your goals, understand your options, and make the best possible strategic decisions.
Here are the essential things to understand about starting a new law firm website without breaking the bank or painting yourself into a corner.
Get Clear About the Purpose and Goals of Your Law Firm’s Website
The most important part of planning your law firm’s new website is to get clear about the role that the new website will play in your practice, and how you expect it to contribute to your firm’s goals.
Attorneys start new websites with LawLytics with goals ranging from starting a brand new law firm and bringing it to financial viability to expanding the reach of an already-dominant law firm into new practice areas or locations, and everywhere in between.
Most attorneys start a new website because they want the website to produce new business for their firm. But some attorneys already get all of the business they need from direct referrals and start a website to better qualify and screen those referrals.
For attorneys who want business from their website, their new website makes growing possible. For attorneys who are content with their referrals, their new website helps streamline their practice. The approach for each type of lawyer is different.
For attorneys who want their website to expand their reach and produce more potential client opportunities, it is important to get clear in your own mind what that means to you:
- How many new matters do you really want?
- What type of matters?
- In what jurisdictions?
- How much revenue does the average new client gross your law firm, and how much of that can you afford to spend to acquire that client?
- Once acquired, will a new client produce future revenue for your firm?
- What is the time horizon between acquiring the new matter and getting paid?
- Is it upfront, is it in incremental monthly billing as the matter progresses, or is it at the end of a successful contingent fee collection?
If you don’t give sufficient thought to these factors, you may end up painting yourself into a corner. This is especially true when lawyers deal with marketing vendors who either don’t understand the business of law or are eager to sell the law firm now regardless of long-term financial viability.
Some of these factors may not be known, especially if you are starting a brand new firm or if your firm is expanding into a new market. That’s okay as long as you use a flexible system like LawLytics where you can keep your costs predictably low and maintain your flexibility.
Consider future plans, both real and potential. Do you think you’ll add additional practice areas or expand your geographic reach? What would trigger the expansion? Where would you likely expand?
You don’t need to know the answers to all of these questions at the start, but thinking them through will increase your likelihood of being successful.
Make Your Law Firm’s Website Work For You
The goal of every law firm website, whether you’re just getting started, or whether your website is decades old, should be to make it easy for clients to find you, like you, and after they are prequalified by your website, to ultimately contact you and hire you.
You’ll need your website to do the obvious things like attracting relevant potential clients. The most cost-effective method for that is to leverage free traffic. (If you’re a LawLytics member, we’ll help you do this efficiently over time so that your website will become an appreciating asset that grows your revenue without proportionally increasing your marketing costs.)
Your law firm’s website will be the point of first impression for many of your clients and potential clients. So you’ll need your website to represent you well, which means creating both an intellectual and emotional connection with your potential clients and clients.
There is an expression that says “People will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is particularly true with your firm’s website, which should position you as a subject matter expert in your chosen areas of practice — but only after it positions you as a human being that potential clients relate to and feel comfortable with.
We go into great detail on how to do this in other webinars which are available on-demand, and we guide you through doing this as part of your LawLytics membership. But the point is this: When you’re thinking about building your website, getting people there is necessary, but it’s only part of the story.
Have a strong foundation for your law firm’s website
When you’re starting a new law firm website, the key is to focus on the things that will scientifically move the needle for your firm in terms of client, revenue, and profit growth, while ignoring the things that don’t.
When a potential client arrives at your website, the first question they ask themselves is, “Can this firm help me?” You need to answer that question immediately, and that means without making the visitor do work. If your potential client has to work to answer this question, they’ll instead press the back button on their browser. They’ll look for one of your competitors’ websites that makes it easy on them.
Take a client-focused approach
Get specific about how you can help your potential clients. For example, some firms use taglines like “We fight for you,” or “Small firm vibe, big firm bite,” because they handle multiple disparate types of matters and can’t figure out what else to say. These taglines generally don’t work well because they’re about the firm, not about the potential client. They don’t address the potential clients’ question: “Can this firm help me?”
Your law firm’s website should also make it easy for your potential clients to find the information they need to see how much you care and how much you know. This means having an intuitive navigation menu that behaves as the average internet user would expect it to behave. You need to make it easy to locate and consume proof of your competence in the form of substantive legal information, as well as social proof such as past successes and recommendations from former clients.
LawLytics software’s intuitive menu structuring, case results, and recommendations features make this extremely easy, so attorneys don’t need to worry about the mechanics of how to deliver this content. They can instead focus on what they want their potential clients to know.
Make it clear to your potential clients what to do on your website
Your site should make it very clear what you want your visitors to do. For most firms, this means contacting the firm by phone or through a web form. There are specific places to put this messaging, often in the form of buttons, which are referred to as Calls To Action (CTAs).
Your phone number and address should be very easy to find. If you have multiple locations, it should be easy for potential clients to decide which location to contact and which number to dial. All of that functionality is built into the LawLytics system, so whether you have a single office and phone number — or many — there’s no need for trial and error.
Your contact form should be as easy as possible to use. This means only requesting the basic information that you’ll need. It also means avoiding anti-spam measures such as forcing the user to match pictures or type in a word from an obscured image. The LawLytics platform has built-in client-friendly spam controls, so you won’t need to add these things that can get in the way of a potential client’s efforts to contact your firm.
How to prioritize what works on a law firm website
Some companies love to sell attorneys bells and whistles. In turn, attorneys often demonstrate to these companies that they do have an appetite for buying things that don’t objectively add to the law firm’s bottom line.
This results in a lot of attorneys with websites that are subjectively unique and creative — and that may even win design awards — but that are actually counterproductive when it comes to advancing the law firm’s revenue and profits.
When you’re starting a law firm website, it’s important to avoid doing things that don’t move the needle, or that move the needle in the wrong direction.
So what should you avoid?
As a general rule, you should not buy any extra add-ons in terms of design, and you should avoid building a website from scratch. This eliminates guesswork and also saves you time and money. There is a reliable formula for what works and it’s best to apply that formula from the outset, which will enable you to establish a baseline of performance.
The reality is that fancy design and animations tend to get in the way of the potential client’s journey towards liking and hiring you. Design is important within functional parameters but becomes a liability outside of those parameters. Stick with what is known to work well as you get started.
Learn more about how to start or improve your law firm’s website
If you want to learn more about how to develop a law firm website that helps you meet your short-term and long-term goals, or how to improve a law firm website that’s currently underperforming, see our on-demand webinar, “How to Start or Improve Your Law Firm’s Website”.