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Study Slams Large-Firm Web Sites

Law firms and other professional services firms fail to apply common sense in the design of their Web sites, says an article in the current issue of Consulting Magazine. The article by Edward Hastings and Robert Buday of The Bloom Group reports on their recent study, The Effectiveness of Professional Services Websites, in which they evaluated the sites of 80 large professional services firms, including 20 law firms. They write:

"Our recent study of professional services Web sites found that most are not organized in a way that effectively introduces their firms to prospective clients -- that is, by helping a prospect to quickly determine whether the firm has the deep expertise and experience to solve his particular problem."

I'll admit that I like this report because it confirms what I have preached for years: The focus of law firm Web sites should be external, not internal; sites should speak to the interests of clients and prospects, not to the egos of partners and managers. But firms don't get it, as the article reports:

"Most of the sites we studied were organized not by the types of client problems they solved. Instead, they were organized by their office structure, list of partners, articles and books written, and sometimes client projects. And while most sites offered practice areas or service lines, their descriptions of their practices and services often left it unclear exactly what client problems they addressed."

Of the 20 law firms included in the survey, the report gave highest ranks to Wilmer Hale, White & Case and Paul Weiss. But as Rees Morrison notes at Law Department Management, even the best-ranked site achieved barely a 50 percent rating. Morrison sees benefit in the study for law department lawyers who forage large-firm sites. "The Bloom Group has done law departments a service when it evaluated 20 prominent firms based on their site’s usefulness of organization for potential clients and depth of content," he says.

The bottom line is that a little common sense can go a long way in Web design. As Hastings and Buday write in their Consulting piece, firms "must decide whether their sites are organized to please the firm’s professionals or to capture the interest of their prospects."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 16, 2006 at 01:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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