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Attorney Website Design Blog

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NYCLA Presentation: Building An Effective Law Firm Website

Last week, our CEO Fred Cohen gave a presentation on Building an Effective Law Firm Website to members of the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA). The event explored the main ingredients for a successful attorney website, including:

We had an awesome turnout and great participation from the attorneys in attendance. A big thank you to all who joined us and to NYCLA for hosting a great evening of online marketing discussion!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Including Client Photos on Your Law Firm’s Website

Finding good photos that accurately represent your firm can often be one of the most challenging parts of the website design process. Many attorneys struggle with finding appropriate images that make the firm seem professional and successful, yet still approachable. One solution that is often utilized is the inclusion of photos that depict attorneys working with clients.

These photos can enhance the site but generally only if they look photojournalistic and not posed. They also tend to work best in transactional/service oriented firms and are not as relevant for litigation disputes or matters where there is an adversary.  Of course, criminal defense firms should steer clear of such images.

An example of site that successfully incorporates such images can be seen by visiting www.bradley-law.com. As you scroll through the practice area pages of the site, you find various images which include attorneys working candidly with clients and colleagues.

As with all elements of your firm’s website, there are a few things to consider before including client depictions:

  • Does your state have ethics rules on including photos of clients or models acting as clients?  The State Bar of Texas, for example, explicitly prohibits the use of actors to portray clients.
  • Are your clients comfortable being shown on your website? Will you make all featured clients sign a consent form?
  • Do you have a photographer who has experience shooting candid office photos?
  • Will these photos appeal to your entire target audience? If you work with individuals but also serve as counsel to large corporations, it might not be the best idea to prominently display a photo of you reviewing a will with an elderly couple.

If you decide that client photos aren’t the right approach for your firm, you should still include a quality photo of all of the attorneys (and your staff) on the About Us page. It seems like a simple solution but can go a long way in making you seem more approachable to a website visitor.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

5 Awesome Amicus Creative Features That Your Firm Is Probably Not Taking Advantage Of

Our platform offers a myriad of tools and features to make your site dynamic and interactive. We know it can be hard to keep track of all of these options so we’ve compiled a list of the top five features that your firm probably isn’t using but should be.

Special Reports: Our special reports module allows you to add a report to your website. Prior to viewing the report, website visitors must first submit their contact details. All contact information is then stored within the Site Manager and also emailed to you so you can reach out to the interested individuals at a later date. This tool is a great way to provide informative articles to site visitors while capturing leads.

Password Protected Pages: With the Site Manager, you can easily convert any page into a password protected page, meaning that site visitors must enter in a username and password prior to seeing the information. Firms often use these pages to house client resources or information for fellow advisors. Although these pages are not visible to all, they can be a powerful marketing tool and encourage website visitors to contact you so that they too can receive this limited access.

Social Network Sharing Tools: With the growth of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s absolutely essential that you include sharing links on your blog page. These links allow blog readers to easily share your work through social media outlets.

Audio/Video: Your site is a great place to post informative videos and audio. Using the Site Manager, adding these types of files only take a few seconds and you can add as many as you’d like. Happy uploading!

Click-to-Call Technology:  The less work site visitors have to do to contact your firm, the better. Our advanced Click-to-Call technology makes that first call even easier. A visitor simply enters their phone number on the site and a call is automatically configured between your office and the interested party.  Law firms who subscribe to this feature report a noticeable increase in the volume of calls received from their website.

To learn more any of these great features, call or email us today.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Contact Us…but how?

For the most part, law firms create websites to increase visibility and get new leads. Many firms find the latter objective to be more difficult to achieve. Once a visitor makes it to your website, how do you get them to contact your firm? The answer to this question is multifaceted but we are going to focus on one of the most essential yet underutilized pages on most attorneys websites—the “Contact Us” page.

Whether it is labeled, “Contact Us”, “Connect” or “Call Our Team”, all effective websites have a contact page. Visitors expect it and most will look for it if they want to reach out to your firm. Make sure it is incredibly easy to find. Don’t hide it in the footer or simply link to it on one page in the site. Place it in the navigation menu or prominently include the important details in the header design.

On the contact page, include multiple ways for the visitor to contact you. This information should contain the firm’s phone number, fax number, address and a form which they can quickly complete and submit directly through the website. Many firms also like to include an email address. This can be beneficial if implemented correctly but if not, it can also be dangerous.  Email addresses listed within the text area of the page can be picked up by “Bots”, which search engines send out to review your site, and you may start to receive a ton of spam mail within months. If you do decide to include your email address, make sure to include it in a graphic as these cannot be read by search engines.

Also, be sure to include directions, special contact information or other details that might be helpful to a visitor. If your firm prefers to be contacted via email, specify that here or if your usual turnaround time for web inquiries is one business day, make that clear. Setting expectations for prospective clients is always a positive thing.

When creating this page, don’t forget that you are still trying to get users to contact you. Just because they have made it to the contact page doesn’t mean they’re sold yet so use this space to further sell your firm. If you’re available for evening appointments or will travel to meet patients in the hospital, showcase those details; these are the little things that make you seem approachable and client-centered.

Just like all other pages throughout your site, the contact page must be user friendly and optimized for website visitors. To learn more about designing an effective “Contact Us” page, contact us today (please note the handy form to your right and the prominent Contact Us page in the menu bar above)!  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting More Blog Followers

Let’s be honest, blogging is hard work. It takes time, effort and creativity. And after all of this hard work, you want something to show for it--new business, increased visibility and maybe even some guest blog requests. Or at the very least, you want readers and lots of them.  So how does your law firm get more blog readers and subscribers?

Automatically subscribe new clients to your blog recipients list. You are probably reading this and grumbling that not all of your clients are interested in your blog posts. And you’re probably right. A handful of them won’t be but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.  Almost all blogging platforms give users the option to easily unsubscribe so if they’re not enjoying your posts, they can opt out of future emails.

More likely than not though, your clients will enjoy receiving notice of your recent blog entries—they did after all hire you as their attorney so most will be interested in hearing what you have to say. Make it common practice to subscribe new clients as soon as you receive their contact information.

Include a link to your blog in your email signature. Take a look at your sent box right now. In the past three hours, you’ve probably sent out over 30 messages to clients, colleagues, vendors, your local bar association’s listserv and prospects. What a great, free way to advertise your work without appearing pushy.

Take advantage of all of your social media networks. Tweet about your blog entry, post it as a note on Facebook and make sure that the blog feed is working with your LinkedIn account. Promoting your blog on social networks is great because it gives readers the option to check it out without leaving their comfort zone. If they like what they see consistently, they are more likely to head to your site and subscribe for future posts.

Also, be sure to integrate social media sharing tools into your blog platform. Visitors who check out your blog posts should be able to easily share your work with their friends and followers as well. Minimal effort on their part means more visibility for your firm.
Be interesting and dare we even say it, controversial.  If you want people to read your blog and come back for more, then your posts better be good, always. Make them interesting and timely. No one wants to read about yesterday’s news.

To really gain traction and get noticed, however, you will sometimes have to go beyond just interesting, you’ll have to be controversial. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind about that new city school board policy or ABA section recommendation. Let it all hang out and you will be surprised to learn just how many people start caring about what you have to say.

And please bloggers, infuse humor. Everyone- prospects, clients and colleagues alike enjoy a good chuckle. In fact, if you did a survey of the videos and stories that went viral over the past year, you’d find that the overwhelming majority were either controversial or comical because that is what attracts attention. Use these elements in your blog to command attention and fascinate readers.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Preparing Your Firm for 2011

As we begin 2011, many attorneys are looking for ways to enhance their marketing strategies and improve their practices.  For some lawyers, technology can be the toughest aspect of firm growth. The tech scene is forever changing and with attention focused on billable work, and little technological background, many firms resist new technologies and their practices suffer.  To help you get on the right track this year, we’ve developed a list of the top 6 “tech-musts”.

  1. Up-to-date website:  At this point, EVERY law firm, regardless of size or expertise, needs to have a good website. What constitutes good? Well, your site should have a modern design, dynamic copy and interactive tools for visitors. It also needs to be optimized for the search engines. In the Google age, you just can’t afford to have a website that cannot be found online.
  2. Email: So you are probably sitting there saying everyone has email. You’re right, most firms we work with have email but you’d probably be shocked to learn how many firms use email that does not match their site’s domain name and still use their AOL or Yahoo email accounts for business purposes. This looks unprofessional and may actually deter potential client or colleagues from doing business with your firm. Also, since so much of your communication with colleagues and clients is now done via email, be sure that you have a professional looking signature on all messages and include the firm logo where appropriate.
  3. Attorney Blog:  For generations, attorneys have established credibility and received great recognition for their contributions to legal journals. Journals are still alive and well but another medium for contributions has also emerged—the legal blog. Increasingly, more and more attorneys are utilizing easy to use blog platforms to post their thoughts and insights on the law and news. These blogs help to establish credibility and increase visibility in the legal world.
  4. Social Media: You’ve probably already heard that in 2010, the number of visitors to Facebook surpassed those to Google. With the popularity and influence of social media increasing, there has never been a better time to get onboard.  At the least, your firm should have a profile on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media will help you connect with clients and colleagues.
  5. Online Document storage: It seems that just about everything can be done online these days. You can bank online, order your groceries online and even attend a conference online. With this shift in the way business is conducted, it is no surprise that more and more lawyers are looking for ways to store their clients’ documents online. Keeping documents in the firm’s fireproof file cabinet is just no longer sufficient. LegalVault is a great option for storing documents. With this platform, your clients can log in to their account securely 24/7 to access their most important documents.
  6. Practice Management Software: Running a law firm is no easy task, especially if you are a solo practitioner or small firm without a ton of resources to devote to support staff. Practice management software can combine your billing matters, scheduling, time tracking and document management into one platform and improve the efficiency of your practice substantially.

In no way is this meant to serve as a complete list of all tech tools for lawyers but it serves as a basic outline of the six online tools which you must have in place for firm growth in the year ahead. To learn more about growing your firm’s online presence in 2011, contact us today.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Drafting Practice Area Copy for Your Website

Creating a website that adequately demonstrates your law firm’s expertise and experience can be difficult. Everything from the design to the copy must be carefully created to ensure that every web visitor knows what your firm is about in just a matter of seconds. During the development process, we often see firms spend weeks preparing their attorney profiles and text for their verdicts and settlements page but neglect the information pertaining to their areas of practice.

The end result is often firm sites that have only one page devoted to six different practice areas. These pages are usually filled with bulleted lists and just a few sentences to describe multiple complex areas of law. Needless to say, these pages leave something to be desired and can actually be detrimental to your site’s optimization and more importantly to the visitor.

To ensure that your law firm’s website ranks well with the search engines and resonates with web visitors, be sure to consider the following tips:

  • Make your descriptions descriptive: As lawyers, you’ve all been advised to avoid speaking in “legalese” when working with clients. This rule also applies to your website. Use the practice area descriptions to clearly explain what you do. Don’t take it for granted that your clients know what Chapter 13 bankruptcy means or what a guardianship is. Utilize the practice area pages to explain basic concepts and describe how an attorney can help with related matters.

    Also, keep in mind that your clients may not search by the practice area name so you should use this space to highlight keywords which a layperson might search by to find your practice. If you have any doubts, ask a friend or relative without a legal background to review the copy.
  • Devote a page to each: Piling multiple practice area descriptions on to one page can be confusing to the visitor and may make it harder to find. Intuitive, simple navigation is key to any site so be sure to have a separate page for each unique practice area page. To keep the site organized, consider having one main heading for practice areas with sub pages for each main area of expertise.

    Add some personal touches: A basic overview of asset protection or product liability may not make you stand out from other firms in your area which is why you will need to add a few personal touches to your practice area pages. In explaining the services you provide for each area of law, also include your expertise and experience. How many cases have you tried? Do you have an advanced degree or special certifications pertaining to this area of law? By including this pertinent information throughout the practice area pages, you can establish credibility in this area of law and define what sets you apart.

Firms often delay creating a new website because of the great time and energy required to draft new effective copy. At Amicus Creative Media, we’ve done a lot of that hard work for you. We have an expansive practice area library that provides thorough, user-friendly copy to help your firm create an informative website. Contact us today to learn more about our many tools available to law firms.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Artistic Integrity: A thing of the past?

The development process for each new law firm we work with is unique. Some firms have a very clear vision for their new sites: the colors, the imagery, the logo—they’ve got it covered. Other firms have more of a hands-off approach. They leave it to the experts and we rely on our creativity and knowledge of the firm’s background and marketing goals to create that ideal site. As graphic designers, there is nothing that we enjoy more than the creativity and collaboration of the development process and nothing that makes us prouder than the customized websites we create for our clients.

Over the past few months, it has been brought to our attention that some of our site designs have been replicated by other attorney marketing groups. Seeing these “copycats” really peeves us for a few reasons. Of course, there is the obvious—we’re artists and this is our work.  We’re proud of it and we’ve worked really hard on it. But as disheartening as it is to see your work copied by a less skilled artist, that is not our primary gripe. The reason these copycat groups anger us is because it’s just really not fair to our clients or theirs.

If you advertise custom designs, they should be CUSTOM. Our clients pay good money (albeit often less than our uncreative counterparts) to have an original site design and with us they get that. But then just a few weeks or months later, there is a duplicate design on the web. It’s really just not fair.

Then there are the firms that work with these copycat groups. They often pay thousands for what they too think is a unique site design when in fact there is nothing unique about it. So if your law firm is in the market for a new website, let this post serve as a “buyer beware” warning of sorts.

Before engaging a design firm, check out their portfolio and check out the portfolios of their competitors too. You may just find that some designs are far from original. For instance, one of our counterparts Integrity Marketing Solutions, seems to have taken a liking to some of our work and use our designs as templates for their “custom websites.” By checking out our portfolio and theirs, you would find that one of their sites, http://temp.estatestrategist.com/Josh/IMS_Custom_1/ is strikingly similar to one of our sites, www.katterlaw.com and another one, http://www.nyjuris.com.previewc40.carrierzone.com/ was modeled after one of our masterpieces, www.myattorneynow.com.

Beyond comparing portfolios, be sure to read testimonials and contact current clients about the design process. Ask questions about the designers’ creativity and whether or not templates were used. Speaking to current customers will give you greater insight into any limitations or flaws of the design group so you can make certain that you are making the right choice.

With Amicus Creative Media, you can be sure that your custom design really is customized for your firm, not “borrowed”.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Basic Ingredients for a Successful Attorney Website

Just like recipes, legal websites have ingredients that must be included for good results.  Below you will find the basic building blocks of a successful law firm website:

A Professional Design - It sounds like a given, right? Right, but it’s astonishing how many attorney websites we come across each day which are quite simply a mess. The designs are outdated, misaligned or just plain ugly. If you want prospective clients and advisors to take you seriously, you need a professional graphic designer to help you. With your web presence serving as a cornerstone in your marketing campaign, a design by your neighbor’s nephew just won’t cut it.

Search Engine Optimization - This too should seem pretty obvious. Without SEO, your site won’t get noticed by the search engines or web users. Make sure your site has unique title tags, backlinks and fresh copy to keep it optimized. And again, you should consult an expert since they are up to date on current trends in SEO.

Intuitive Navigation - If your site looks nice but web visitors can’t figure out how to navigate around it, you’re in trouble. It’s important that your navigation menu is functional and intuitive to all users, regardless of how internet-savvy they are or what browser they’re using.

A Well-written Home Page - Many site visitors will enter through the home page so you have to make sure it’s good. This recent blog entry highlights the basics of drafting an effective home page.

Attorney Profiles with Personality - Every good legal website features attorney profiles. These “bios” should include the facts that prospective clients are interested in knowing: Where were you educated? How much experience do you have? Equally important, this copy should be infused with some personality. Don’t just give clients a bulleted list of your strengths. Instead, tell your story! Why are you an estate planning lawyer? What do you do outside of the office in your free time?  You should include a PROFESSIONAL photo and even consider having a video to accompany each profile so the attorney’s voice can literally be heard by the visitor. The more web visitors can relate, the more likely they are to feel comfortable with you and reach out to your firm.

A User-friendly Contact Us Page - A contact page is really quite useless if it doesn’t encourage web visitors to contact your firm. Your “contact us” page should of course contain your address, phone number and fax number. It should also contain an online contact option; ideally, this should be a form which users can fill out with their information and inquiry and submit directly through the website. An interactive map which displays your office location(s) should also be available, allowing users to obtain directions and even get a satellite view of your building. This page can also include information on your office hours, whether you are available to meet clients at their homes or in hospitals and even types of payment accepted.

In addition to the “contact us” page, it’s also a good idea to include a contact form on every page to ensure that users can easily reach out to your firm regardless of where they travel throughout your site.

By including the six items listed above, you can be sure that you have a good foundation for a successful attorney website. To learn more about building your professional presence on the web, contact us today.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Featuring Free Consultations on Your Law Firm's Website

Many folks fear the cost of attorneys. They’ve heard horror stories of friends being billed $150.00 for the firm to photocopy a four page brief or others who have paid thousands for an attorney who was neither accessible nor successful.  These stereotypes and general apprehension by prospective clients must be considered with respect to your firm’s website. Many web visitors may be interested in working with your firm but may be hesitant to reach out to you for fear that they will get socked with a large bill for a short consultation (and then ultimately decide not to retain your firm).

Offering free consultations to new clients, and prominently displaying this offering on your website, is one way to get hesitant prospects off of your site and into your office. Displaying this information does not make your firm look less credible nor does it entice tire kickers to call you. Instead, think of it as a way to make your firm look accessible, friendly and open to taking on new cases. Without fear that they will get charged, clients will be more inclined to pick up the phone and ask questions which is a great start to any long-term relationship.   

If your site is getting lots of traffic but not a ton of online leads, it’s time to consider adding information of your firm’s free consultation.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflections

As we head into Thanksgiving, a holiday to reflect and celebrate blessings with friends and family, we at Amicus Creative Media have so much to be thankful for.

In the past year, we have greatly expanded our client base. We now proudly serve firms in 45 states across the country. Our new clients include estate planning firms, bankruptcy attorneys, immigration lawyers, personal injury law firms, family law attorneys and criminal defense firms. It has truly been a pleasure working with each and every one of these firms. Thank you for choosing us.  

To our long-time clients and friends, a huge thank you is needed. We are so grateful that you continue to stick with us and spread the good word about Amicus Creative. It is with your support and feedback that we continue to grow and evolve.  

2010 has also been a great year for new partners is the legal community. We have teamed up with new bar associations, large and small, including the New York State Bar Association and Western San Bernadino County Bar Association, just to name a few. We have also continued to strengthen our relationship with our long time partners, WealthCounsel, NAELA, NAEPC and NYCLA. Through these affiliations, we continue to expand our network of legal professionals and have met some really wonderful and talented individuals.

Finally, we are so incredibly thankful for the success of LegalVault, our advanced document exchange and exchange system, in the past year. Hearing all of the buzz and positive feedback about this product from the legal community has totally blown us away. This service is now being used by firms across the country. Thank you to all of our new LegalVault clients; we appreciate your enthusiasm, your feedback and most importantly that you’ve welcomed us into your office. There has been nothing more rewarding than working closely with you to strategize and collectively discover creative ways to integrate this service into your practice.

From our Amicus Creative family to yours, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and holiday season. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store for 2011!   

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