Why Have a Website?
Like it or not, the internet has changed the way information flows around the planet. Increasingly, the internet is our first port of call when looking for information.
Internet usage in Singapore is set to grow to 3.1 million users* by the end of 2007. Conservative estimates suggest that this number of people log onto the internet each day to find information. Given the statistics, it surprises me how many law practices still do not have a website. Some solo and small practice lawyers may still hold firm to their belief that an internet presence merely leads to more nuisance calls rather than more business; preferring to rely on traditional methods such as personal and word-of-mouth referrals. A few are happy to announce that they have enough work, thank you very much, and don’t need the internet to extend their reach.
We believe that no matter how established a law practice is, an omission (your prospective client not finding your practice on the internet) is likely to leave an adverse impression – that you are a not a serious business undertaking with a sterling professional reputation and a credible client list. As a supplier of legal services, your corporate website in this internet age shows pride and professionalism in your craft. A corporate website has become an essential business tool, just like your business card.
How to Begin?
Your law firm website must serve its primary purpose which is to inform prospective clients of your experience, skills and reputation. To be effective in delivering this message, the site must be informative, aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly and easily found by the internet search engines.
We will discuss each element in turn –
1. Design with Purpose
You have many different design options when creating your website. This is usually governed by how much you are willing to pay the web designer. We believe that simplicity is key. A showy site replete with style driven multi-media flash presentations is likely to alienate a cost-conscious client looking for a more conservative image. From a technical point of view, flash-driven web sites take a long time to download and are not search-engine friendly. We do not recommend it for these reasons.
In designing websites for lawyers, we notice that lawyers have a tendency to one extreme or the other;either boring and nondescript or overkill. Simply put, your site should represent the image you wish to portray – which is professional, competent and assured.
2. Make Website Content Informative
For your website to serve its purpose of “informing” prospective clients of your expertise, it should contain up to date information about your credentials, awards, accolades and past achievements. Most search engine friendly sites also contain legal information useful to the public. “Giving away” free legal information will serve to draw new visitors to your site; and may improve your rankings on search engines.
3. Keep Your Site Up-to-date
A cardinal rule for effective websites is to keep your content up to date. Even if your website contains only information about the practice, it should reflect current achievements and appointments.
When was the last time you updated your website? Is the content up to date and relevant? If you can’t afford to pay a web programmer to maintain your website – you can do it yourself! Even without knowledge of HTML (the programming language used on the internet), a “build-yourself” website with content management enablement (LEAP WebBuilder is a subscription service) that allows you to edit text and images; and create fresh web pages as easily as a Word document.
4. Ensure your website is found by Search Engines
In the course of our research on Singapore law firm websites, we have encountered a few well designed websites but could not locate them, even by typing the name of the law firm on Google. Without being found by search engines, your website is about as effective as a ream of glossy brochures tucked out of sight in your desk drawer.
To make your site “findable”, you must submit your website to top search engines (Google and Yahoo at the very least). In fact, for your website to be truly effective in extending your reach, ensure that Google ranks your site on the first page for search words used describe your service (example, “divorce lawyer in Singapore”).
To do this, design your website with search engines in mind. Make it clean and search-engine friendly. The website text, titles and meta-tags must contain words that describe your expertise and specialization.
Evaluate the search engines and submission criteria; study their methodology for ranking sites. Google takes into account links from other sites (to your site); so submit your website to as many online directories and public information sites as you can.
Search Engine Optimisation has developed into a science. If you lack the time or interest to monitor your page rankings and study your site for search engine optimization, you can hire a professional to do this for you. Web Marketing specialists, in addition to selling you Ad Words on Google or Yahoo, can also undertake SEO for a fee.
BE YOUR OWN WEBMASTER!
To build, update and maintain websites, you need to know how to program in a web language like html, java or php.
Lawyers (unless you have an abiding interest in the internet) will find it too time consuming to learn how to program in web languages (html) and the free text protocol (ftp) to upload the information to your host provider.
We have solved this problem through LEAP Web Builder, a subscription service that allows the user to build and edit your web pages, from any pc with internet access, as easily as a Word document. And it doesn’t cost you extra!
To find out more, call Bizibody at 6326 2848 OR visit http://www.bizibody.biz/webbuilder