Some new websites we like and why

With online being so important to almost every business and in a world where there is more and more “noise”  and shorter and shorter attention spans, having the right website has never been more important.

Bearing in mind research suggests that a visitor, even to an informational or business services site, where the visitor is typically looking for fairly in-depth information, will generally decide to stay on the page or bounce within 90 seconds max, how you present the information and content on your site, and how it looks and feels, is surely now as almost as important as the content itself.

It is amazing how many websites and web designers or clients still simply don’t seem to get this. If you have less than a  minute to impress a visitor, it surely stands to reason that the visitor simply won’t be able to take in more than 3 or 4 things from any given page in that time span. Any more items, on any page, is likely to be a major reason for that visitor simply clicking away, even if there’s great content to be found.

Colour and visual cues are also extremely important and the big trend this year, is undoubtedly video – people now don;t want to read , as we are all being bombarded by words, they would rather watch.

A couple of legal sites that really seem to have understood the above principles, recently launched, are the new Turbervilles site and one by Withy King Solicitors. it doesn’t look like they are by the same web company but they definitely share the basic principles set out above.

Which do you prefer and why ?


How to know if you’ve made it as a brand

Whilst browsing on the web earlier we were reminded of an interesting way of assessing the strength of a brand. We noticed an article about a well known law firm, TLT Solicitors, which has won a number of awards.

We decided to take a look at how strong the firm is online, since most successful businesses now take the web seriously and have websites worth checking out.

Cutting a long story short, frankly, we’re not all that impressed with the TLT website but clearly, the firm is outstanding in many other ways and perhaps is in a strong enough position to currently not overly worry about it’s online presence (we would argue that’s shortsighted).

The interesting thing to come out of our seo tests on the site was that we noticed that the cost per click of the branded search for TLT solicitors come sin at a whopping 19 dollars which is very high for a law firm. It means that other firms or organisations recognise the strength of the TLT brand and consider that if they can get clicks for branded searches, the potential client may be of value. It’s a little odd that other forms might think that someone searching for TLT Solicitors might instead visit another law site, but the main point is that the cost per click is useful as an indicator of brand strength, and clearly TLT has a strong brand.

Branding has become a  far more significant issue for law firms in a  much more competitive and fast changing environment. We work with several law firms including Darlingtons and Gannons and whilst their primary rationale for investing in online marketing remains immediate work via prominence in the search engine rankings, they are increasingly recognising that there is  long term pay off in that high rankings for multiple keywords builds brand awareness. On the basis that many potential clients may only trust the name of a law firm they have seen a number of times over a period, and that with decision to buy legal services it could be months before a client returns after an initial visit, the value of a brand is obvious.


Dare to be different

With the veritable avalanche of websites and information on the web, being different has never been more important.

In some sectors, such as with solicitors or anything relating to professional services, being different seems like an anathema to most, but even i these sectors, most of us make a value judgment as much on the look and feel of a website as content.

It’s a fact, some would think bizarrely, that even the best websites have an initial bounce rate from a home page of upwards of 50%. This clearly indicates that if we don’t like the look of a page, we will simply go elsewhere.

Even where specific information is being sought or a service such as no win no fee injury solicitors, the average amount of time spent on a webpage for a law firm is less than 2 minutes.

Aesthetic judgments will often be made if a website looks dated, if it is static and looks old fashioned – the implication from this is perhaps that the law firm itself is dated and “old school”. then there';s the other style of website which many still seem to utilise, which is very “busy”. In other words a website page that has a lot of different components on it. This sort of approach always puts me off, and is against the principles suggested on sites like Mashable and Unbouce.

Given such a short window of opportunity to start a visitor (and potential customer) journey 3 things are worth considering :-

1. the power of an initial visually strong message

2. a single clear message on the home page and other strategically important pages, where the visitor’s attention and eye are drawn to 1 or maximum 2 things on the page – a good example of this less is more in our view in the legal sector is the Mishcon de Reya website

3. a different approach – different may be risky, but different is important in an ever more saturated online world.

In industries like law, which are risk averse, it is worth sometimes experimenting but in ways which are relatively safe. If you have a main firm website which performs well, why not try a radically different microsite approach ? That way you are not putting all your eggs in 1 basket and can try and test different things. A firm who definitely embrace this type of approach is Darlingtons. They have a variety of microsites and have just launched a new employment law site which is radically different to any other law firm website we have seen, with a very striking wallpaper type effect which is more commonly seen on artistic sites such as photographers or fashion site design. Interestingly, the firm advises us that they have deliberately adopted a high risk approach with a view to being different and they acknowledge that the site may not appeal to traditionalists.

As James Swede, the firm’s Senior Partner says “Darlingtons don’t try to be different, we simply are. Anyone visiting our new site will see, within a second or two, that we are different, we don’t need to say anything, certainly not the usual cliches about being different you see on so many other law related sites. Ours is a firm of action, not words”.