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Clients Aren’t Impressed by Your Prestige: Why Law Firm Websites Are Designed to Fail

Posted Jun 30, 2014 10:27 PM CDT
By Mark Jacobsen, FindLaw Senior Director of Strategic Development and Thought Leadership

Mark Jacobsen

Have you ever said something like this to the group designing your website? “Make sure my website content makes me sound important to potential clients.” Or maybe you wanted to make it clear that you don’t joke around when it comes to the law “People need to know that we’re a serious law firm.”

Every day, attorneys across the country give these kinds of directions to their website development teams. Unfortunately, the ideas all stem from the same flawed premise: Website visitors make logical decisions about which law firms to contact.

The reality is that most users make decisions based on more emotional motivators such as their desire for safety and a fear of loss. The most important thing you should focus on is what will motivate visitors to actually contact your firm.

Although we all like to think that we make decisions based on logic, most of our decisions stem from much more basic motivators. Of course logic plays a role, but that role is often to rationalize an emotional decision that has already been made.

For instance, one of those motivators is the concept of certainty and the tendency for consumers to balk when faced with too many choices. If your website is like many we see, it’s probably heavy on information and full of options to click on (car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, train accidents, grocery cart accidents, etc.). The trouble with that approach is that it can be paralyzing. When visitors are not certain which choice is the right one – which number to call, which button to click, which action to take to get the help they need – they make the decision not to make any choice at all.

Consumer selfishness also plays a role when they visit a law firm’s website. Selfishness drives website visitors to choose the firm that best answers the simple question, “What’s in it for me?” Too often attorneys’ websites are consumed with ego-driven content: educational certifications, publications, past cases, bar association memberships and the like. Although these are noteworthy accomplishments, they don’t speak to legal consumers’ individual needs.

With this in mind, we encourage you to ask yourself these questions about your website:

  1. How does my website address the real apprehensions that potential clients are feeling? Or does it appeal only to logical concerns?

  2. Do the images and content on your site send social and emotional signals that I am trustworthy and sympathetic to a visitor’s needs? Or does it rely exclusively on evidence and rational arguments such as my experience and accolades?

  3. Who is my website really designed for? Me or my potential clients?

The answers to the above questions will give you a solid place to start in making your website a tool to convert visitors into paying clients. To ensure your website is meeting its full potential, download your free copy of the FindLaw white paper Why Most Law Firm Websites are Designed to Fail: Logic, Emotion and Today’s Legal Consumer.

FindLaw Senior Director of Strategic Development and Thought Leadership Mark Jacobsen leads the development of breakthrough products and services that help law firms achieve their marketing objectives. Before joining FindLaw, Mark was a pioneer in the software and Web development sectors and is now a regular speaker at industry conferences on such topics as digital marketing strategy, online search, Web development, online learning and more.

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