‘Big Feet’ Are Good in Law Firm Web Design

When I hear “big feet” I think about not being able to fit into Jimmy Choos. And that makes me sad. But when it comes to Web design, big feet, or footers, are actually a good thing. A modern footer, which is like a mini site map at the bottom of each web page, has become increasingly popular to improve site navigation and provide for a better overall user experience. So let me ask you this: How big are your feet?

BACK WHEN EVERYBODY STAYED ABOVE THE FOLD

Footers used to be small so viewers could avoid scrolling. Remember having to click on the scroll bar and drag it downward to see the rest of a page? What a hassle. No wonder we tried to cram everything onto a single visible screen, calling it “above the fold”—a leftover from newspaper days. Changes in hardware, particularly swiping features on trackpads and tablets, and tapping the spacebar on computers, loosened the physical limits of longer pages. As a result, we are no longer as constrained on page length.

CONVENIENCE IS KEY

This is great news for usability. One of the major benefits of a big footer is always having a convenient site map at your fingertips. Since a law firm website has many audiences—clients, prospects, potential new hires, the media and alumni—you can’t expect them all to be looking for the same information. The big footer is just one way to make it easier. Those who prefer can still use top-level navigation and drop-down menus to find what they want, but they can also just look to the bottom of the page. This means visitors are more likely to stay on your site longer and visit more pages.

MEGA-BIG FOOTERS?

As with most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to building big footers. If they are too big, perhaps mega-big, they can actually thwart navigation. Too many layers and lists of links make all the information start to blend together into a confusing mass. There are a few ways to avoid this pitfall, such as editing down the amount of links to display. For law firms, this could mean only displaying top-level pages rather than drilling all the way down to subpages in the footer. Some megafooter pitfalls can also be managed with clever designs. For example, it is important to show a hierarchy of links with the headings differentiated from the rest of the list. These headings will grab the eye and quickly draw attention to the desired pages.

DON’T FORGET SOCIAL MEDIA

Finally, especially if your firm is active on social media sites, consider adding social media links and even feeds to your footer. This will encourage visitors to engage and connect with your firm. After all, 67 percent of general counsel checked LinkedIn in the past week, according to a recent new media engagement survey. Take a look at your firm’s website and ask yourself how easy it is to locate your firm’s LinkedIn page from your homepage. If the answer is “not so easy,” consider dropping a link into the footer.
Since your firm’s website is often the first way a prospect learns about your firm and the best tool for your clients to tap into your thought leadership, making your key information easy to find and access is one of the best ways to make a good impression.

Read more: http://www.lawtechnologynews.com/id=1395146540494/%27Big-Feet%27-Are-Good-in-Law-Firm-Web-Design#ixzz2xZ2MouHU

Reprinted with permission from the MARCH 18, 2014 edition of the Law Technology News © 2013 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-257-3382 or reprints@alm.com.

Brain Food: The Business Case for a New Website

Updating an old website is an attractive idea, and not just for public facing purposes. If your CMS (Content Management System) is outdated or non-existent, then you are missing out on a lot of opportunities. A modern CMS functions as the central brain of your website allowing publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface.

How smart is your brain?

However, not every CMS is created equal. The technology has come a long way, and the capabilities of an outdated CMS compared to those of a contemporary one are very different. A good CMS can empower marketing communications, direct business development activities, proposals, and much more. If you are not yet convinced that a CMS update is a good idea, check out the following list of modern CMS capabilities.

Business development

A modern CMS can power a firm’s business development program and house all the content and information you rely on. When you update this information on a capable CMS, it will allow you to control and push the appropriate content to your various channels. For example—if you update a biography you can publish a shorter version online, a longer version on your intranet, and a third version can be exported to a Word document for a proposal. Having one centralized CMS ensures the right biography is always used and maintained.

Experience module

Most firms opt to have this in place as you can capture professional experience in a format that can be customized for internal and external audiences. By allowing you to designate fields that are only visible to internal audiences, a modern CMS enables you to tailor search results for each visitor.

Customizability

Simo Ahava’s “Modern CMS: Top 5 Features” explains that a good CMS will adjust to accommodate your needs. You should be able to hide or show features in the software, set areas of your content as restricted, make mass edits and redesign easily. If you reach a tough spot, extensions, plug-ins and widgets are constantly being created and updated to help tackle any challenges you may face.

Social media integration

Social media can also be integrated with the CMS allowing visitors to follow the firm on appropriate platforms and connect through LinkedIn. 67% of buyers of legal services, for example, use LinkedIn daily or weekly. Once the numbers come in for CFOs, they will likely be just as high. Not to mention that a site with a well functioning social media connection will rank higher on search engine results.

A modern CMS can also:

  • power a proposal generator;
  • allow for easy posting of virtually any type of content (video, PDF, photos, text);
  • pull quotes to draw visitors to the site;
  • allow changing and adapting content through a password protected and secure web interface;
  • and significantly reduce yearly developer costs.

It’s not brain surgery

The bottom line is that a modern CMS allows maximum control over your content and how it gets published. In addition to just making your life easier, upgrading to a contemporary CMS centralizes the intellectual capital that is needed for quick and efficient business development. It’s a no-brainer, if your current system does not measure up, you should strongly consider updating.

How Do You Say Your Name Again?

In elementary school I had a teacher named Mr. Arapostathis. Parents and students alike blundered this Greek tongue twister so much that we eventually all gave up and called him “Mr. A.”  Luckily, he was easygoing. While this worked fine in my third grade classroom, it is less acceptable and often embarrassing to mispronounce names professionally.

Audioname.com came up with a clever way to avoid this confusion. The website allows you to create an audio recording of your name’s proper pronunciation. The recording is then linked to an icon which you can add to the signature at the bottom of your emails, next to your name on the bio page of your website, or even on your social media profile.

This tool is especially helpful if you have a lengthy name or unique spelling, and can be used for tricky company names as well. Audioname was mentioned by the ABA Journal as one of the top websites that lawyers love.

Nothing is worse than trying to avoid uttering a name for fear of butchering it. This gives clients and colleagues a sense of ease in knowing they can skip the embarrassment the next time they mention you, shake your hand or dial your number.  Are you listening, Mr. A?

New Media Survey: Importance, Implications and Glimpse of the Future

Drum roll, please…new media is officially mainstreamed. According to the 2013 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey by Greentarget, InsideCounsel and Zeughauser Group, 2013 is the year lawyers NOT using new media tools are hard to find. The survey polls corporate in-house counsel nationwide and gives insight into where marketers should focus their new media efforts.

The results show:

  • Shrinking Gap: The popularity of social media is so high that only 27% (down from 43% in 2010) of respondents are not using it. There is still an age gap, albeit a shrinking one, with younger counsel accessing social media more frequently than their more senior peers.
  • LinkedIn Leader: Facebook is the most commonly used social media site for personal interactions, but it (along with Twitter) lags far behind LinkedIn on the professional side. The survey shows two-thirds of counsel accessed LinkedIn within the past week for professional reasons.
  • Room to Grow: “I would best be described as lurking,” claims one respondent about their online presence. Currently most social media users are “invisible users,” consuming great amounts of content but never producing any. Most in-house counsel do not need to do much self-promotion, which accounts for part of the trend, but it also suggests there is still plenty of room for newcomers. Only 3.35 blogs exist per AmLaw 200 firm. New blogs, which are well written, well researched and strategic at attention grabbing, have ample opportunity for high readership.
  • The Score: Major legitimacy points are awarded to Wikipedia, which is now a frequently used professional tool; and a few are docked from peer driven ranking systems, which are seldom factored into the hiring process.
  • The Future: Perhaps the most fascinating aspect is the largely untapped video realm. Videos on law firm websites and YouTube channels are very seldom accessed. On the other hand, much less video content exists to BE accessed. The survey considers video a possible new frontier and suggests there is plenty of opportunity for firms who produce high quality and informative videos (if you build it, they will come?).

The 2013 In-House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey is helpful to any marketers or professionals looking to stay one step ahead of the new media curve. The complete report delves deeper into how to best guide your marketing strategy in the expanding new media marketplace. It is full of insight and worth taking a look. Go to insidecounselsurvey.com.

How Far Have We Come

Some years ago I gave a tongue and cheek speech at a law firm retreat on the history of legal marketing as seen by those of us in the trenches. Recently when a new legal marketer seemed frustrated about partners not willing to be on LinkedIn, I assured her that we’ve actually made progress. So we’ve decided to actually pull out the time capsule and share our 30-years of war stories from here at Right Hat. So stay tuned for the Right Hat documentary!

1980 I can’t believe they want us to carry a business card? Everyone at my country club knows who I am and what I do.
1984 Clients push back on phone and fax charges
1986 Firm brochure just published crisp A-Z (antitrust – zoning) 60 pages
1989 Logo for a law firm?? You won’t see Cravath stooping that low.
1995 Web page – cost $10,000 but buried it as IT expense.

And that is just the start…..