Dorothy Secol, CLA
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The Internet has become an important part of the business marketing plan for nearly every product and service in the world’s economy. It therefore makes sense to create a web site to provide potential clients with a glimpse of the high level of service and expertise they will receive by choosing your law firm. In order to produce a well thought out, well constructed web site, there are four important elements to consider:

1. Target Your Audience - Keep in mind that your web site is one element in your overall marketing plan and any good plan zeros in on a target audience. Stay focused on the needs of your target audience and resist the urge to link to every law-related site on the Internet. You will only confuse the visitors to the site. Keep the focus narrow and you will be likely to achieve desirable results.

2. Determine the Content of Material - This is most important - What will make your site an effective marketing tool? Obviously the name, address and telephone number of the firm should appear on the home page. Include information about your practice areas and brief biographies of the attorneys, with or without photos. There is some controversy with regard to photos on web pages as some attorneys may object for privacy reasons. However, photographs add a warm and personal feeling to the site. Each attorney’s biography should be accompanied by a direct e-mail link. The rest of the information on the site should be "client centered." Many firms update free information regularly so that people are encouraged to return to the site on a regular basis. Your site may feature a newsletter, or changes in legislation effecting topics in your areas of substantive law. Because the site is updated, visitors will return over and over again.

3. Designing the Site - It is always wise to use an expert for advice and actual site construction. A good designer will be able to offer guidance and alternatives and suggestions. Look at other sites. Do your research! When you are designing your site, consider the following: a) be sure there are no misspellings, dead links and stale revision dates - you want to project a good image; b) avoid flash and fancy graphics; they can be distracting on a law office site; c) make your web site as easy to navigate as possible.

4. Costs - The cost of launching a web site can vary considerably. Again, do your research! Be sure to get estimates that cover consultation, design and execution, maintenance, hosting, etc. Be sure you take into consideration the fact that you will want your site updated regularly. Set a realistic budget and stick to it.
A well constructed web page can be a very effective marketing tool and can give the public information about your firm that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

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