On Tuesday, I discussed the value of using Facebook for your brand and your firm. Today, I would like to focus on the value of speed, particularly when it comes to how fast your website will load on a client’s device. The old adage “slow and steady wins the race” isn’t necessarily true when it comes to law firms and the internet. As far as the online community is concerned, the faster things load, the better. This can make things particularly difficult for law firms who are still relying on older technology, or who are living in the past in terms of site upgrades and online updates.
I have talked quite a bit about how important it is to make your site mobile, especially with the latest buzz about Google penalizing sites that aren’t mobile friendly, but this post is more about how your speed can impact your client base, and what you can do to change this. Obviously the number one fix for a slow website is to speed it up, but how?
Size Matters In Terms of Imagery
To begin altering your website so that it is more user friendly and faster for those looking for information about your firm, you can begin by changing the images that you have posted in the past, and take note of these new rules for any photos you will post in the future. Large images, videos, and other visual data that are too big, or require too much code can cause a problem, particularly for clients who are trying to view your website from a tablet or a smart phone. HTMLgoodies.com suggests:
Make sure the size matches your usage and set the size for each page with the height and width. Do not make use of scaling, especially from larger to smaller images. The image result might look fine on screen but the file size will be the same. To truly take advantage of the smaller dimensions, use an image editing program and scale the image accordingly.
By optimizing images, you can help to significantly speed up the loading times, and make it easier for clients to transition from one page to the next, without waiting forever on visual content before they can scroll or obtain any important information.
Combine And Compress
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it to? If you don’t want to lose content, but your site is running way too slowly for a successful rate of traffic, it might be time to start combining images with CSS sprites, and enabling compression. Quick Sprout writes:
To make this consistent across your website, you will need to order CSS key value in a way that is far more simplistic – think of alphabetizing them, for example. This can also be done for HTML attributes, and the same consistency will need to be made with tag quotes. Keep the same case for all letters, lose line breaks, and make Java minimal.
Bring In An Expert
There are a variety of tools that can be found online for free and for cash that can help you organize your site into a faster and more user friendly online vehicle. If you are struggling with following these steps on your own, or your site is maintained by a web designer, it may be time to talk to him or her about making your firm’s site more functional in terms of updating the code and losing some of the unnecessary bulk.
This is one time when keeping things simple is best, and your administrator or web designer will be able to take your suggestions and make some of their own to better your online presence. If your website support isn’t helpful in this area of expertise, it may be time to move on and find somebody more capable of maintaining the company site.
Previously, I discussed the importance of Twitter for your firm’s SEO. Today, I would like to focus on web design. Personally, I always recommend that my clients invest in a professional when creating their website, so that you know everything will be running smoothly, work on mobile devices, and include all the assets you require in order to work and market yourself accordingly. Entrepreneur.com states:
A web developer can be one of your most critical hires. After all, that’s the person who will create the online face of your company and enable you to interact virtually with your customers.
When seeking out the right man or woman for the task of developing or redesigning your webpage, there are more things to consider than simply whether or not he or she knows how to format a site for mobile use.
The Value Of A Good Review
As a firm that bases much of your web traffic and clients on word-of-mouth, you should already be fairly familiar with how important a good review can be. This is really not different for the person that you hire to design your website. Not only should the resume reflect his or her achievements in this area, but you should also follow up with references to make sure you are getting the full story on exactly how qualified your designer is. Passion For Business says:
Talk to some of their current and recent clients, to see how smooth the process was. You want someone who has good project management skills AND good communication skills. They have to listen to you, not just give advice. And they have to get back to you in a timely manner with phone calls and emails.
Most potential web developers might be completely qualified, but once in a while you will come in contact with what some experts refer to as a “spammer.” This type of designer fills your site with useless codes, unimportant links, and messy tags and URLs to get the job done quickly rather than efficiently.
A Lasting Relationship
Not all web designers stick around to help maintain the finished product, and in some cases, you may not need that much additional assistance, but as mentioned above, many lawyers tend not to focus on the website portion of their business as much as the in-office portion. This makes sense, of course, because the clients you communicate with in person require your attention and knowledge, and a website would be better monitored by somebody who performs web maintenance for a living.
When you hire a website developer, you should ask whether or not they will continue on for updates, maintenance, and other requirements you law office might have in terms of online support.
Get An Estimate
Before you go into business, I always suggest that my clients do a little digging into the financial side through a quote or estimate of services. You want to know how much you’ll be spending, but also where this money is going. Are they going to make it mobile-friendly, will there be high quality graphics, and is a blog an option on the site? What you are paying for should primarily be in a quality website, not a quickly organized pile of data and imagery with your firm’s brand slapped on a banner.
Experts make the suggestion that a good quality site will run between $2,500 and $5,000 if you want it to look and feel professional. Remember that the way a website flows can be just as important as the font, photos, and links you share on that site. You want clients to get online and find their way to the information that they need in seconds not minutes.
Law firms are forever cluttered with mountains of paperwork and endless files, which can make a lawyer’s life seem more than a little stressful. Now, in the past I have gone over many ways that you can make your law firm more productive, bring in new clients, and change your site for the better by various strategies like changing your domain name to enhance your online marketing, but in this post I’d like to take a moment to talk about an application that many lawyers overlook, but which can make a big difference in reducing the amount of clutter and unnecessary wasted paper in your business. KEYT Law says:
It’s time to move your law firm into the 21st century and use technology to not only save your firm money by doing away with the cost of filing and storing paper, but also allow all law firm personnel to access client and internal firm documents in a matter of seconds.
So, sure, you have a Paralegal there to help file and store these papers, but this doesn’t fix the problem entirely, and while many firms are beginning to e-mail rather than fax and snail mail documents, there’s still an awful lot of sticky notes and folders floating around most practices.
Creating Files For All
One key element to this tool that can be pretty handy for law firms in particular is the ability to transmit your emails directly through the application. Not only can you read your emails through the app, you can also send emails straight into Evernote and in the process, create a place where all of the members of your firm can easily access the information, and store it however they so choose, rather than transporting physical files and memos around the office all day. Luke Ciciliano of seo-for-lawyers.com says:
When you read and send emails then this app allows you to easily, and pretty seamlessly, send the emails straight into Evernote with an appropriate folder designation and tag. Voila, all of your law firm’s written correspondence and emails are now saved into an easily searchable Evernote correspondence file.
Not only does this cut back on mail, but it also means that you can create a secure and flexible location where everybody in the firm has easy access to the same data without the need for multiple outlets. Evernote works for individuals and teams with collaboration tools that give you the ability to share more than just e-mails. Calendars with important dates, lists, files, documents, reports, and of course, personal notes that you make, or that any member of the team wishes to make and share with others in the office. There would be no worries about client information getting out and who was missed in a CC.
Master Checklist Benefits For Law Firms
So I’ve touched on why this is a good tool for legal practices, and how it can simplify your correspondence processes, but it can also provide a pretty unique method of getting work done on time and in the right order. Checklists are something that many people create without even thinking, whether it’s a grocery list, or a mental note of things to do before you go home for the day. In a law office, any lawyer can tell you that there are hundreds of things to be done and it all has to be completed in a particular manner and order. Attorney At Work suggests:
As a lawyer, master checklists can be used to remind you of the steps in routine activities such as drafting a motion or brief, replying to a motion or brief, going to court to argue a motion or brief, prepping a witness for deposition, or opening a new client file.
This master checklist can be used to share the same list with other members of your group or to make a personal list that applies to individuals alone. This means that any teammate can make a list for work and home, which can speed up productivity and keep you up to date without the need for excess paperwork.
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