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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

How To Design A Simple Education-Based Web Site For An Individual Attorney

by Trey Ryder

As a rule, the more lawyers you have in your firm, the less able you are to focus your web site's attention on any one lawyer's knowledge and experience. An easy solution is for each lawyer to have his own education-based web site.

A separate web site gives each lawyer the opportunity to post educational articles that display his knowledge and experience, provide information about his services, and give prospects easy ways to interact with him.

An education-based web site has three key goals: (1) to seize your prospect's attention by offering information about his problem and the solutions you can provide, (2) to establish a very high degree of credibility as quickly as possible, and (3) to provide easy ways for your prospect to contact you. When your web site achieves these goals, your prospect trusts you and has no reason to call another lawyer.

The following suggestions for web site design and content help you achieve these three important goals.


FRAMEWORK

Here is a simple structure you can follow to build an education-based web site. I offer a discussion of the framework below.

EMERGENCY REQUEST

Fast-response link for help in an emergency

EDUCATIONAL ARTICLES

  • ## Secrets of (subject within your area of law)
  • ## Steps to (subject within your area of law)
  • ## Costly Misconceptions About (subject within your area of law)
  • Frequently Asked Questions About (subject within your area of law)
FREE RESOURCES
  • Free educational article
  • Free educational newsletter
  • Free answer to your question
  • Free e-mail list
BIOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPH

SERVICES

  • Legal Services
  • Services Letter
  • Read these comments from clients and colleagues
  • Read how (your name) has helped clients
  • ## Reasons Clients Hire (your name)
HOW TO HIRE HELP
  • ## Mistakes to avoid when hiring (your type of lawyer)
  • ## Questions to ask before hiring (your type of lawyer)
CONTACT (lawyer's name)

ADD YOUR NAME

SITE MAP

DISCLAIMER

COPYRIGHT

Now, here are comments and suggestions:

First, everything in this framework should appear clearly on your home page. You don't need to copy these exact headings and titles. I offer them to show you the type of information to present. Name the headings using words that describe the information.

Second, make sure you put these links on your site's top level. If you don't, your prospects might never see them because they may not navigate deeper into your site.

Third, don't worry about duplication. You may have two or three different links that take your prospect to the same page. Selective redundancy is good.

EMERGENCY REQUEST: If your prospects ever have a pressing need, you can give them the link where they can write their message and transmit it to you immediately by e-mail.

EDUCATIONAL ARTICLES: If you hope to gain a marketing benefit from your articles' titles, show them near the top of your home page. When a serious prospect visits your site, you hope your titles will seize his attention so he buries himself in the information found in your articles. The more articles you post on your web site, the greater opportunity you have to offer something that interests your prospects. And if they relate to the same area of law, the higher relevance rating you should achieve with search engines.

In this example, I've listed three articles. The fourth entry is for frequently asked questions about your area of law. Prospects like to know and understand the legal process associated with their problem. You should explain it in detail and answer every question they are likely to ask.

Also, you might add a heading for issues of your newsletter, or post recent articles from your newsletter under this heading.

FREE RESOURCES: "Free" is still the most powerful word in advertising. By putting your free offers in one place, your prospect can quickly find the ones that interest him. At the same time, I suggest you place your free offers around your web site. You can never be sure how long your prospect will stay on your site. The more places you offer your free articles, newsletter, and so forth, the more likely your prospect is to see your offers and respond.

The first free offer is an article. I suggest you hold back at least one popular article and not post it on your web site. Through this link, you offer the article by its title, explaining that it's available by request. This causes prospects to ask for it, which results in their giving you their names and mailing (or e-mail) addresses. This is one effective way to capture prospects' names for your in-house mailing list.

The second free offer is your newsletter. Invite readers to subscribe to your newsletter by entering their name and e-mail address, then clicking "submit."

The third free offer is to answer your prospect's question. You can provide an e-mail template through which you and your prospect can begin a dialog about your prospect's problem.

The fourth free offer is to add the person's name to your e-mail list for anything you might offer, such as seminars, conferences, audio tapes or CDs, Law Day activities, and so forth.

BIOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPH: This link is the first of several links that provides information about you and your law practice. The more facts you provide in your bio, the more credibility you establish.

SERVICES:

Legal Services: Here you should provide a detailed list of the services you offer. If your prospect doesn't see the service he wants, he may conclude that you don't offer that service and call another lawyer. So provide as much detail as you can.

Services Letter: This letter should describe the various ways you can help your client -- and answer frequently asked questions.

Testimonials: This is where you post comments from former clients, referral sources, colleagues -- anyone who knows you and will offer a recommendation. (Check your bar's ethics rules to see whether you're permitted to use testimonials.)

Case Histories: This is where you post descriptions of cases you have handled and the successes you have achieved for clients. (Check your bar's ethics rules to see whether and to what extent you can discuss results you have achieved for clients.)

## Reasons Clients Hire (your name): This section is where you list your many competitive advantages. Clients don't hire you because you're the same as other lawyers. They hire you because you're different. Make sure you list all the ways you differ from other lawyers, in terms of what your prospects find most important.

HOW TO HIRE HELP: This is where you explain mistakes to avoid and questions to ask when hiring a lawyer. When you help prospects learn how to go into the marketplace to find a lawyer, you increase your credibility. Prospects respect that you're not trying to influence their decision and in fact are helping them with their search. Often, this bonds them more closely to you.

CONTACT: Put all your contact information here. In addition, it's a good idea to put your contact information at the bottom of every page. Then, if your prospect prints something from your site, your contact information will appear on the document he printed.

ADD YOUR NAME: Here you offer your prospect a few options, such as the option to add his name to your e-mail list or your newsletter distribution list. These choices will duplicate some of the choices under your Free Resources.

SITE MAP: Search engine optimization specialists recommend that every web site have a site map. This helps search engines see what's on your site, which helps them assign relevance to the information you've presented.



YOUR WEB SITE BUTTONS (LINKS)

Following are the buttons (links) I suggest you include on every page. You'll notice that the bulk of them relate to you and your services. You can set up the buttons so they take prospects to a secondary page, where they make choices. Or you can use a mouse-over screen that displays the choices under each category when you point your mouse at that link.

Emergency Request
Educational Articles
Free Resources
Biography & Photograph
Legal Services
Services FAQs
Client Comments
Client Successes
Reasons to Hire
Hiring Mistakes to Avoid
Hiring Questions to Ask
Contact (Your name)
Ask a Legal Question
Add Your Name
Home Page
Site Map
Disclaimer
Copyright

This simple education-based web site can help you seize your prospect's attention and establish tremendous credibility. What's more, as you post new articles on your site, your credibility will soar and you'll attract more and more inquiries from qualified prospective clients.


About The Author

Trey Ryder is a law-firm consultant who specializes in Education-Based Marketing for attorneys. He offers lawyers three free articles by e-mail: 7 Secrets of Dignified Marketing, 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, and 11 Ways to Turn Your Fee and Billing Policies into a Competitive Advantage. Send your name and e-mail address to trey@treyryder.com and ask for his free e-mail packet of articles.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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