Many website design firms have courted the legal market to create website for law firms. The problem is, most designers don't understand the unique needs of a lawyer, how the firms operate and how to create a website that makes money for the lawyer.
Following are seven common misconceptions about law firm websites.
MISCONCEPTION #1: I can create my own website.
If you're happy with a website that gives visitors basic information about you, then you're right. You don't need to have a website that works.
However, if you want a website that will consistently bring in cases, it has to be different from the websites of other lawyers in your area.
Further, it has to give the visitor a reason to contact you. Simply offering a free consultation or free report is not enough. You have to have a "sticky" website, one that has lots of information that people find useful, one that they come back to for reference and a website that develops a relationship with the visitor.
MISCONCEPTION #2: If I put my website on the Internet, people will automatically find me.
They old saying, "build it and they will come," couldn't be further from the truth. Just because you have a site on the web, doesn't mean people can find it.
Today, SEOs (search engine optimizers) are getting big money (two to five thousand a month) to get websites listed in the top of the search engines.
Once you have a website, you have to have a systematic way to drive traffic to your site. There are many ways to drive traffic, but just putting the site up is the first step in having a website.
MISCONCEPTION #3: If I put my website on the Internet, people will automatically hire me.
Usually not. Most law firm websites are nothing more than a few "fluffy" paragraphs about the law firm. If your website says:
"At Smith Law Office, we believe putting the needs of the client comes first. With the use of technology and competent legal research, our attorneys are able to advise our clients, giving the client an advantage in each matter."
Or something similar, no doubt your message is ignored by the visitor.
The fact is, consumers are smart today, than ever before. With the amount of information available to people and those lawyers willing to give it out in mass quantities, people expect more than lop service. They want solid information in a format that's easily accessible.
The visitor has to be compelled to contact the firm, or they won't turn into a client.
MISCONCEPTION #4: Law firm websites don't make real money.
This is actually true of nearly all law firm sites. However, it doesn't have to be that way.
The fact is, there are solutions available to lawyers today, that can replace part or all of a marketing program. In fact, several of my lawyers have massively reduced the amount of yellow pages advertising due to the results and income they get from their website.
Since websites are cheaper than yellow page ads, it makes sense to work to get clients from a lower cost solution.
MISCONCEPTION #5: Putting up my areas of practice, contact information and mission statement is a good website.
Not true. Often times, a lawyer's website is so poorly done, that it actually causes people to look for another attorney.
And, those attorneys who pay big bucks for snazzy flash presentations, and lots of bells and whistles end up looking too polished. People want a lawyer that's a person, not a lawyer that hides behind his law firm name.
A site with all sorts of clever plugins is usually a waste of money. It makes the lawyer feel good about his or her website, but it doesn't actually make money.
Should an attorney spend five or six thousand dollars on a website that looks great but doesn't make money? That's not an asset. It's a waste.
MISCONCEPTION #6: Websites created by web designers are usually "good" websites.
Just because someone knows how to code a website, doesn't mean they know what will make a person pick up the phone and call you.
Look at it like this: A paralegal can draft a demur, but what kind of success would they have going into court to argue that demur?
MISCONCEPTION #7: Buying a website from I lawyer directory is a safe and easy way to get my firm a website.
Not true. A website that has lawdomain.com/SmithLaw is a website that will rarely be looked at. Sure, there are some big companies around selling these sites to lawyers who know they have to have a website to look "official" yet, all the sites are bases off of a brochure type idea.
Again, putting up your "mission statement," a few areas of practice and your bio doesn't mean you have a website that will make you money.
The most likely scenario is that very few people will actually find your site if it's created by one of these companies.