Archive for the ‘Attorney Blogging Tips’ Category

Is Your Legal Website “Learner-Friendly?”

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Today’s learners have a virtual arsenal of multimedia learning platforms merely a click away—in fact some consider the internet the greatest contributor to the learning process since the printing press was invented. Well, that’s certainly the theory and the potential of the web in any case. The reality tends to be a bit less spectacular. While most web owners and web creators spend hours and hours creating fabulous, flashy, imminently usable and always-accessible interfaces to host their hopefully high-quality content, the goals of the learner can be largely forgotten. In other words we have become so focused on keywords and headlines that reach out and grab the reader’s attention that we’ve let the content-rich website which actively encourages learning and exploration fall by the wayside.

Now as a legal professional, you may well wonder why you should care whether your firm’s website it learner-friendly—after all, your primary goal is to get conversions, right? Well, yes and no. Of course the overall goal of your website will be to reach those you might not otherwise reach, promote your specific services and end with lots of happy, satisfied clients. While this is certainly a worthy goal, it can benefit your business to take a closer look at what your users really want. Most people who seek out a legal website have a specific problem that they need information about. To provide this information in the most succinct manner possible, there are several things to keep in mind.

Narrative—Essential to Learning

All human communications essentially revolve around storytelling—we use storytelling both to create an emotional connection with one another and to convey information. Writers use narrative to connect what they know about the world with what their readers already know and want to know about the world. A story is exchanged and a personal connection is made. Through the information presented the reader is able to actually build their own narrative as they work their way through your legal website. Bits and pieces of information are soon converted into real knowledge. Your web users come to your website in an attempt to find information germane to their specific situation and to their lives. Those who spend their precious and limited time immersed in a content-rich website have the hope of being changed, having their outlook altered or gaining something they did not have before. In order for these hopes to be realized, your website must offer context to your readers in addition to narrative. Context helps your reader get the entire picture, facilitates understanding and, in the end, changes our way of thinking.

Remembering the Different Learner-Styles

Just as children learn in different ways, adults also have different styles of learning. While some prefer very structured, organized methods of learning—others will prefer a learning path which requires a bit of exploration. Therefore while the traditional navigational layout may appeal to many users, others may prefer a path of discoverability. If you are unsure what discoverability really means, think about Wikipedia which allows the reader to skip from one type of content to another, providing links which facilitate the ability to change topics easily without stopping the flow. Those who have used Wikipedia know that while they may have begun reading about a nuclear site in New Mexico they may have ended up reading about a horse farm in Maine. A stretch, but you get the idea! You can satisfy both types of learners by keeping your logical, well-laid out navigational tools while adding hyperlinking and visual representations of your message. In the end, you want to remember that your legal website should be a meaningful participant in a much greater story and should seek to create content that is truly worth discovering.

Achieving Artistic Distance When Contemplating Your Legal Website

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Like any creative endeavor designing your firm’s website can truly be a labor of love, even if it is mostly tagged as “commercial.” The successful web solutions created on a daily basis are nonetheless based on sound principles of art and design even for those who have yet to take a course on the subject of web design. If we accept that all website design is truly artistic—probably on several levels—we must also accept that just like artists we can get too close to our creation. When this closeness becomes “too much,” then we can form a mental block which prevents us from seeing what might be obvious flaws to others. Those who can apply artistic distance when looking at their website are more readily able to create a much more successful website which can lead to higher rates of conversion for your firm.

Many of those who have been in the business of website creation for any significant length of time are aware of the industry’s tendency to shy away from challenging the status quo, meaning a well-constructed analysis of another’s website can be met with ridicule or anger. If the goal of website creation is truly to continue to raise the bar for design and content, the objective discussions on the subject are essential. In any case, like anything we human beings create, when we have looked at our own creation for days, weeks or months on end, it can be extremely difficult for us to offer any kind of objective assessment of something we have put our heart and soul into. Being able to critique your own work requires a level of honesty and impersonality which is not always easy to achieve.

How to Achieve Artistic Distance

So, you want to know if your painstakingly created legal website is spot on, or if it could use some tweaking—or even a complete overhaul? If you have colleagues who you trust to offer an honest opinion, backed up with concrete comments, then give them the opportunity to look at the site and give you feedback. If you happen to be a one-man island, then you must learn the art of self-critique. When considering the overall design of your site, get up and back away from your computer screen to more fully get the overall impact your site offers the user. Does the layout appear to make good visual sense or is it too busy or even too minimalistic? Move closer and look again. Is there a clear visual path which allows your users to easily find mandatory items? Illustrators have been known to turn their work upside down to identify any potential problems with perspective. This technique forces the brain to temporarily reboot in order to understand the visual impact and can also point out flaws in your overall composition.

Take a Look at Your Color Scheme

Even if you are absolutely certain your color palette is flawless, convert it to grayscale temporarily to get the full impact of your color choices. We humans can become extremely emotionally attached to a certain color theme and may not realize that it is not working as it should for the overall website effect.  Along with your attachment to your color scheme you can also find you’ve created a bond with your entire web design, at least in your head. Walk away from your design, for at least a few days then come back to it with a fresh eye. You may be surprised to see things which need tweaking that you simply didn’t see before. This technique works just as well with content. Walk away from your written words for a while then come back and read over. You will likely be shocked at the mistakes you absolutely did not see before your break and may even see an entirely different direction you should take your words. In short, your goal is to get to the place where you can contemplate your design elements and content on their own merits rather than on an emotional level. When you’ve achieved this goal, your website will absolutely improve.

Best Lead Generation Blogging Tips for Your Attorney Blog

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

The potential benefits of a well-executed legal blog are immeasurable. Aside from giving your organic SEO a hefty boost by filling your blog pages with keyword-rich links, a legal blog will also build your reputation as a legal authority. Although these benefits alone are enough to jump on the legal blog bandwagon, consider that a well-written, often-updated legal blog can also boost the reputation of individual attorneys, create a solid, high-quality legal persona, increase your connections within the legal realm and increase the likelihood of receiving positive press mentions. In order to ensure your blog accomplishes all these things—and more—keep the following tips in mind when creating and maintaining your blog.

Post on a Regular Schedule

If you jumped wholeheartedly into the idea of a blog, but have found the reality to be a rarely-updated blog page, then you may actually being doing more harm than good. When a potential client clicks onto your legal blog site and finds it hasn’t been updated in three months, they may leave with a very unfavorable overall impression of your law firm.  The assumption may be that if you don’t take the time to update your blog, that perhaps you are either overbooked—in which case a client will look elsewhere for an attorney—or are simply a procrastinator who doesn’t take the time to tend to necessary tasks.  Neither of these assumptions would be beneficial to inspiring trust or gaining new clients. Aside from the negative impression a potential client will garner from a neglected blog site, there’s no SEO benefit to infrequent updates. Google must be fed regular content in order to place a high value on your law firm’s website and blog.

Remember That Online Copywriting is Different to Offline Print

Online readers, as we all probably know by now, behave in a completely different manner than offline readers. Online content is often viewed as somehow less valuable that reading a newspaper, magazine or book. This could be simply because it is free—and sometimes “free” translates into a perception of lower quality. Because of this, and because most all of us are always pressed for time in our busy world, readers are much more likely to skim-read your blog copy, and less likely to actually read to the end of an entire article—especially if there are included links. Remember as you write to use short sentences, and keep your calls to action early on in the copy rather than at the end where they may well be overlooked.

Be a Guest Post Blog Contributor

One of the easiest and best ways to build a following for your own legal blog is to contribute to other legal blogs, writing on your specialization area. Guest posts are great in that they give you inbound links to your own website, while also gaining attention for you own firm’s blog. Many blog experts advise that you have a high-quality blog written, or at least outlined, before contacting other legal arenas and offering your expertise. Remember that others treat their blogs as a business, just as you do. Whether you are writing your own blog, or guest blogging, remember that a blog is, in essence, a conversation. Don’t post and consider your job done, rather take the time to read and respond to comments from readers—even the negative one!

Encourage Visitors to Come Back Often

Make it as easy as possible for your potential clients to return to your blog by allowing them to subscribe, offering to e-mail them when a reply is made to their comments, or encouraging them to sign up for your legal firm’s newsletter. In other words, go the extra mile—or two or five or ten—in order to ensure that your casual browser becomes a repeat visitor, and ultimately a satisfied client.

Is Your Attorney Blog Easy to Find?

It should go without saying that you should be promoting your blog through your legal website, on your home page, and on every subsequent page. If you do e-marketing, make sure you include links to relevant posts on your blog. Mention your blog on the social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter often—after all, if your blog is difficult to find, what is the point?

Use Great Headlines and Lists

Every headline or title of your blog needs to be stellar. Your blog headline is the “hook” which grabs people’s attention (or not) and must be both short enough to fit into a tweet, exciting enough to grab people’s attention, and explanatory enough to give people the incentive to read the entire blog. It is definitely worth the time spent to ensure your headline is the very best it can be. People tend to respond well to lists, especially “Top Ten Tips For…..,” “15 Ways to….,” or the “Twelve Best….” Lists tend to be more easily scanned, and can condense lots of information in a relatively small amount of space.

Offer Your Readers High-Quality and Value

Your legal blog articles must be valuable, useful, and informative. Many times legal blogs in particular are written by experts on the subject who are afraid of offering solid advice for fear the reader will simply take the advice and skip hiring the lawyer. Don’t be frightened of being honestly useful. You, as the attorney, are still the expert, you are simply showcasing your area of expertise and knowledge and educating your future clients. Even those readers who don’t end up as your client may still share your content or link—when the rewards to your firm are so great, it’s never a bad idea to offer high-quality, information.

Finally, although you may truly be the most knowledgeable person in your field, keep the legalese to a minimum and don’t talk down to your readers. Web readers may be pressed for time, but they are hardly stupid, so never come across as though you are speaking to them from your pedestal way on high. Your legal blog can be an incredible asset to your law firm, so take the time to make it something you are truly proud of.

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