Even though I've been saying for years that law firms need to put 3 things on their Web sites to attract business clients, the message isn't getting through. I've been making these points in speeches, articles and blog posts. At a very minimum your Web site must list:
- Industry experience
- Representative clients
- Success stories
Now comes an article researched and written by Greenfield|Belser brand design, "From Bland to Brand" on page 42 of the November/December 2005 issue of Law Firm Inc. that says, "Simply put, law firms are failing to create Web sites that effectively market their organizations." See http://lawfirminc.law.com/display.php/file%3D/texts/1105/web1105 (registration required.) Among the failures are:
- No "Industries" button on the site. Less than 25% of firms display their industry experience, which is "surprising, because our research consistently shows that a firm's industry knowledge factors into a client's decision to hire it."
- 20% of practice area pages do not link to relevant content such as articles, updates, newsletters and the like.
- Only 44% of the sites surveyed display a slogan or tagline.
- Blue or white dominate 66 % of large law firm sites. "Why? Studies have shown people associate blue with trust." That's nice, but it makes all large firm sites look the same.
- Only 13% of firm sites offer in-depth case studies, and only 5% percent put case studies on their home page.
- 28% of sites use stock legal images such as spectacles, gavels, columns, scales of justice sheafs of paper and laptop computers. Borrrring. Triteness is bad marketing.
- Skyline shots are popular on large-firm sites. As a result, their sites end up looking almost exactly alike.
- Only 31% of the home pages included a link to the firm's extranet.
- Only 17% had information for law firm alumni, who are a great source of referrals.
- 97% of sites displayed at an 800x600 screen resolution, even though the most popular setting on people's computers is 1024x768 now.
- 35% of sites incorporate Flash. Flash is search engine repellent; it's a graphic that search engine spiders and bots cannot index. In my opinion, nothing on a law firm web site should be moving, because it distracts the eye away from text. On amusement park Web sties, Flash is OK.
In conclusion: "Law firm Web sites are more alike than different. That's not surprising given an industry bias towards precedent. But it's lousy marketing."