For better or for worse, a website will influence prospective clients, referral networks and job candidates.
How can you leverage this ability for the betterment of your practice?
To begin with, you will need to define success.
Does success mean heavy traffic and if so by whom? Does success mean more inquiries? If so, how will they be measured? Does success mean more job applicants? If so, how will you know where they came from?
Once you have defined success you will be in a position to answer questions that are fundamental to the initiation of your website project:
- Is your existing website successful? If not, does it need an update or a total rehaul?
- What will be the focus of the new website?
- How will the effectiveness of the new website be analyzed?
If you can answer questions one through three, you are ready to plan a website.
The Canadian Bar Association’s Susan Van Dyke has written a detailed account of the considerations involved in planning a website. Although the article was written for lawyers, it applies equally well to architects, engineers, interior designers, accountants and alternative health care providers. Here are just a few excerpts from the lengthy piece that is definitely worth the read:
The elements of a successful website are:
– one champion who is responsible for its well-being
– quality of content (currency, relevancy, readability)
– frequency of content updating
– quantity of content
– ease of navigation
– clean design with clear and consistent visual cues throughout the site
– a look and feel that’s consistent with your firm’s brand
Stay on-brand and on-message
…The site’s visual components should also resonate with users. Strong and clear visual cues lead a user through a site effortlessly and help to make navigating intuitive. Brand colours are typically chosen for a firm’s online presence and accent colours will often help to guide users…
Make it a stage for more marketing
Your website should become the hub for the firm’s newsletters, seminars and e-marketing programs. Consider how your site’s database can serve your future needs and how it can relate or interact with your current marketing database, and think about where you can benefit from technological efficiencies. Build for the future.
One final piece of advice from Susan:
This is a job for a pro. It is not a job for a partner, your neighbor/cousin/friend’s friend/almost graduating acquaintance unless they can compete with the best your budget can withstand.