Thursday, June 13, 2013

5 reasons to not throw away your firm brochure, and how make it better.

Is a corporate printed brochure still an essential marketing tool in today’s electronic world? Online marketing has a growing reputation of being inexpensive, but it also can seem cheap and impersonal. No one wants to receive an impersonal marketing pitch; showing a potential client that you care about them, and will deliver top quality professional results, often begins with how they first heard about you in the first place. When a potential client receives a top-quality marketing brochure from you and they are interested in hiring an attorney, they will assign that brochure much higher regard than an online pitch, a pitch page on a website, or an email.  So why has your firm brochure failed up to this point? Lets walk through a checklist of these five essential ingredients:

Does the firm brochure have a personal touch? Your clients are hiring a person, so neglecting to add a personal touch in your brochure and concentrating too much on legal topics is the number one fatal mistake when developing a firm brochure.  Not only do you want professional photographs of the partners and the office environment, but also make sure that the writing has a personal touch to it.  The writing style can be whatever suits your firm but it should read a little like how you would speak to a client in your office, as opposed to how you would speak on a podium or a stage.

Does your firm brochure’s text address your client’s problems? Too many brochures (and websites for that matter) spend too much time describing the various practices they are knowledgeable in rather than addressing what legal problems their knowledge will solve.  Your readers will be more interested in finding out how you can help them rather than in reading a long list of legal capabilities. Be persuasive in your writing, and use a tone of voice that is true to your firm’s personality. Remember that your clients aren’t interested in you, they are interested in how you can help them.

Does your firm brochure have a design and paper quality of the highest standard? It doesn’t take a master’s degree in graphic design to hold a brochure and know that it was cheaply designed or printed. Although good design and high-quality paper will obviously cost you more than a cheaper product, the investment is worthwhile many times over. If you spend the time to produce good quality on the copy and the photographs, why scrimp on the print quality or the design? The better quality the piece, the more likely people will look at it as a “keeper” rather than a “throwaway,” which increases the likelihood that it will eventually land in the hands of a potential client.

Does your brochure utilize effective and attention-grabbing headlines and photos? Remember, it’s a marketing piece, so the headlines should provide incentive for reading, or continuing to read, what lies ahead. If you use imagery, and you probably should, make sure it conveys the correct message. Not everyone will get the same meaning from each image, but placing a well-written headline alongside it will ensure that most will get it.

Does your firm brochure include a call to action? What do you want people to do once they look over your information? Why should they call now, rather than just file away the brochure or throw it away? If you provide incentive to contact you and make it easy to do so, the number of people who connect with you as a result of reading your brochure will increase substantially.

Matt DeLucia is president of Business Edge Internet Design, a website design agency with locations in New York City and Connecticut with over 100 law firm clients and hundreds of sites built over 17 years. Call 212-931-8538 or contact us here.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Secrets of a legal web designer: 10 tips to make your website better, from an expert in law firm website development.

Present the impression that you want to hear from your visitors. Most websites do a decent job of expressing who they are and what they do, but the most important aspect of business is to get the lead, so providing an easy way to contact you on every single page of your website should be a website’s essential goal and its primary function.  Some websites do this by trying to get people to fill out a form on the side or bottom of every page, and while this is a good idea in theory, in practice it’s a terrible one. NO ONE likes filling out forms, even when you pay them to do it!  The ease of initiating communication, even if you have a quick form, is lost.  Instead, if you insist on a form, provide one box for their name and another for their email or phone (never both) and then a large box where they can paste whatever message they choose. In addition, on every page, make sure a phone number is available in TEXT form so mobile users can click on it and contact you easily. Same with email; every page should have a general email address to provide an easy method of contact with a single click. Why make it hard for people to reach you?

Select appropriate images for your firm’s website. Just like a bad reputation, a bad image can be eternal in the minds of potential clients, so it’s important that any imagery used to represent you on your website is not only professionally photographed, but is suitable to your particular practice. An image should not cliché, overly playful to the point of distraction, or ambiguous in its meaning.  It should not allow even the most uncreative person in the world the slightest doubt as to why that image symbolizes your firms’ personality, the work your firm does, or represents where your firm is located. If possible, attach a slogan or phrase to each photo to more accurately convey your message.

Use a little social media, if not a lot.  Maybe you don’t have a Twitter account (good idea!), and perhaps your Facebook page is embarrassing, but what about Linkedin? If you don’t at least have a page there, create one, add a link there that directs visitors back to your attorney bio page, and then link back to Linkedin from your firm’s bio page by placing their logo on it.  Bingo, you’re now utilizing social media, go tell your friends! This simple exercise will increase awareness of your firm and its website, especially if all attorneys at your firm do it. If you create your own blog and link to your bio page from it, that’s even better.

Make navigation as easy as walking into a well-organized store. If you have a choice between “beautiful and cool” and “functional and standardized”, go with the latter every time. It takes people about 1.5 seconds for “beautiful and cool” to wear off, quickly replaced by “frustrated and I’m outta here.” Navigation should be the same on every page. Flash should never be used. Fancy drops downs with elaborate choices and embedded photos can appear to be advertisements to some eyes and should be minimized. Add a search box on every page and make sure the darn search actually WORKS. If people find your site but then they can’t find what they’re looking for, you’ve wasted their time, and lost an opportunity.

Pay particular attention to your firm’s biography pages. This is your website’s most popular page, and the one that will sell a potential client on your firm’s services more than any other, so it makes sense to spend the most time on improving this page, right? It’s an important enough issue that we wrote an entire article about it here.

Optimize your site for mobile (smart phones and tablets) viewing. While this may seem like a foregone conclusion, most law firm websites are still difficult to view on smart phones and tablets. Many firms are creating an entirely new version of their website for mobile viewers, which can get expensive and time consuming to update unless you’re using a CMS like which populates both the regular site and the mobile site with the same content. If you have the budget to create a second site for mobile users (cost for this can be 5K and up), that’s great and definitely the best option, but making sure your main site is already optimized for mobile viewing can be a relatively simple job if your website developer has a decent content management system that allows this kind of optimization based on the type of device your visitor is using. While this topic requires its own 10-tip list, decreasing the imagery on sub-pages and removing redundant Javascript-based navigation if a smart phone is detected are good ideas for starters.

Clearly delineate and define all practice-specific information. After attorney biographies, the practice pages are the second most important page on your site because it answers the all-important question, “Does this firm have the requisite experience to solve my problem?” Often your firm WILL have the experience, but the visitor will never know this because your description of a particular practice area is summarized too generally, or watered down with so much legal-speak the average layman won’t understand that yes, this firm can definitely handle my problem. Sometimes it’s best to merely use bullet lists to show either a) what types of businesses can be helped, b) what types of problems can be solved, or c) what kind of legal terms fall under this category of practice.  Oftentimes using c) as the only option will not allow potential clients to understand that listing, for instance, Business Litigation means that you indeed do have someone who can help them file a claim against an unfair competitor.

Your firm says they understand their clients’ business. Make sure your website demonstrates this. While many law firms are not comfortable with listing clients (many are, though, and the ones that do this have a distinct advantage over ones that do not), there is nothing wrong with listing the types of industries your firm typically represents. But why not take this to the next level, and, next to each industry you list, show a short paragraph or two that describes the legal challenges that companies in that industry generally face from year to year. You can also list testimonials or case studies (with or without the client name mentioned) that will further enhance your reputation in that particular field. The most you show of your expertise in that industry, the more people will look at you as a legal expert and call on you when needed.

Make it easy for everyone at your firm to contribute content. While some law firm websites suffer from bad design or disingenuous navigation, many more suffer from a lack of content. This is amazing to me; most lawyers, even if they don’t enjoy writing, generally do it very well, even if what they write is prone to excessive legal terminology.  But in today’s content-rich world, beggars can’t be choosers; the best websites are the one with the most content, and even better than that are the ones with the most up-to-date content. So with that said, why don’t we try to get ALL our lawyers involved in the writing? Easier said than done of course, but if your firm allows each lawyer to have their own blog, and that blog is connected to the main site and therefore will encourage visitors, isn’t that a nice way to let everyone play? The problem is that most websites don’t allow this sort of thing, but some, like the aforementioned Lawadmin ( does. Having a content management system that empowers your entire firm is better than giving the rein to one or two thought leaders!

Keep your site’s design modernized.  Even if you like your law firm’s current website, it may be out of date with today’s standards. Here is a scenario that is perhaps not as uncommon as you would think: a large company and potential new client is going to hire a new law firm and they have narrowed their selection down to two firms with equally positive reputations. One firm has an awesome website and the other (yours) has an out-of-date one. Do you think this small difference in image will sway their business decision one way or the other? If you’re not sure, then it’s time to update your website!

Matt DeLucia is president of Business Edge Internet Design, a website design agency with locations in New York City and Connecticut with over 100 law firm clients and hundreds of sites built over 17 years. Call 212-931-8538 or contact us here.


Business Edge announces blogging tool

June 1, 2013
New York, NY

Business Edge, a web development company specializing in law firm web development, marketing, and branding, announced today that its Lawadmin platform ( has added a fully functional blogging tool in order to seamlessly connect the law firm's content into a single integrated content management system.
The new BloggersEdge module breaks several key barriers organizations face when adding blogs to their main corporate website; because it integrates with the Lawadmin CMS system, where all  all other firm-wide data resides, it allows for a more collaborative environment and automatically makes connections between lawyers, practices, and blog entries. It also provides a huge advantage over similar offerings by other companies: cost.
"Our product delivers best-of-breed integration and ease-of-use that allows all knowledge leaders at small and large firms alike to take advantage of the benefits that fresh content brings to your website," says Matt DeLucia, president of Business Edge. "Our goal is to accelerate the transition from a business-as-usual attitude about marketing your abilities to one where writing about your job becomes easy, as second nature as a hand-held device is to a teenager. BloggersEdge is about delivering a great work experience that turbo-charges online collaboration and productivity. We'd like our clients to experience the benefits of this, yet not have to pay through the nose for it."

About Business Edge
Business Edge Interactive is a leader in legal-based online marketing and website design, and has been designing websites for law firms and other service companies since 1995. The company, based in Connecticut and New York City, has prospered with a philosophy of knowledge, patience, and hard work.  They provide a broad range of services and integrated solutions, delivering cutting edge consulting, website design, and content management and web programming services not only to some of the largest companies in the world, but to law firms, Financial firms, Churches & Synagogues, non-profits, and small startups as well.

Matt DeLucia is president of Business Edge Internet Design, a website design agency with locations in New York City and Connecticut with over 100 law firm clients and hundreds of sites built over 17 years. Call 212-931-8538 or contact us here.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top 10 ways to improve your firm’s biography page

Top 10 ways to improve your firm’s biography page.

The average law firm website’s attorney bio pages will be responsible for over 60% of the website's total traffic, an eye-catching percentage that means you should really pay attention to that one page more than any other one on your legal website. While it’s obvious that the writing of your bio is professional and well-written and grammatically correct, the layout of the biography page and some of its usability-based bells and whistles have a huge effect on its user-friendliness.

Because everyone loves top ten lists, we are listing our top 10 ways to improve your firm’s biography page.

10. If you have a niche, don’t be afraid to highlight it
If your paid work is 10% litigation and 90% real estate transactions, the likelihood that a potential client, or an existing client looking over your page, will be interested in reading about your real estate practice is very high.  While it’s certainly ok to include information about other areas of law you’d LIKE to practice in, make sure you are not overlooking your meat YOU’RE YOUR potatoes when writing the experience section of your biography.

9. Try to avoid too much legal terminology
Think of some of the best attorneys you've listened to cable television; the best ones tend to be quite good at explaining legal jargon in stimulating yet common terms, the gift to adjust the way they describe their work depending on the level of audience. Not to encourage you to dumb-down the description of their work accomplishments, but keep in mind that while many lawyers will be reading your biography, most of your readers will be people who may understand some lawyer lingo, but would benefit from a more casual business-oriented description of your abilities.

8. Provide something personal of yourself
When you get right down to it, client hire a person; they are not buying equipment or leasing a building, so adding something to your biography that will humanize you will help more than most people care to admit. While no one needs to know your grooming habits or golf handicap or your favorite restaurants, perhaps include a tidbit on the sports you love to watch or play, an unusual collection, or a charity you strongly believe in. If you include something you believe inn, say WHY you believe in it.

7. Begin with a short elevator pitch, then keep it short
One of the saddest aspects of a long-winded attorney bio is that, alas, most people would rather drive a stake into their eye before reading the entire thing. While a good layout will often alleviate the suffering caused by a long-winded biography, your next client is likely a busy person who desires an executive summary of everything from dinner menus to meeting agendas. Keep it short up on top, and after the overview you can then provide more details below the fold to amuse those who have all the time in the word to read more.

6. Keep search engines in mind when writing your biography
Your biography will probably be read by more robots than people, but this is good news. The search engine robots like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, read your bio at least once a week and will determine from its content its relevance and topical importance in relation to billions of other pages. So while you write your biography, don't be afraid to include the location you practice in; try to include town, county, and state. Then try to incorporate words that define your practice and are likely to be searched by clients, including things like "Stamford personal injury lawyer", or "New Jersey insurance law" into the biography.

5. List clients, or client testimonials, in your bio
Your experience, your achievements, your published articles and your awards: what else is more important to an attorney and therefore his/her client than these things? Don't be shy about including any and all of your experiences, including client testimonials. Adding one or two testimonials shows new clients proof that you've made previous clients very happy with your work.

4. Look professional in your photo
Clients tend to hire attorneys for their knowledge AND their personality, so while it's important to detail your legal experience, you should also spend some time thinking about your image before your biography photo is taken. A good photographer will help you ahead of time with clothing and grooming, and sometimes a makeup artist will be involved. A not very godo photographer, or an office person with a camera and a enough talent to be dangerous, will NOT make you look professional.  Nothing beats a well-dressed, smiling, professionally confident biography photograph.

3. Try to avoid making it difficult to contact you
If someone wants to contact you, make sure your website does NOT require a web form to be filled out just to send a simple email to you. There are plenty of ways of protecting your email from spammers that do not require resorting to this antiquated method of contact. V-cards should be in a clear and obvious place on your biography page. If you insist on a web form to contact you, make it a sidebar and don't expect people to include every detail of their case; for privacy reasons you don't want them to anyway. Require minimal information: name, phone, and email.

2. Link, link, link, link.
Including external website sources on your bio page is nice way of telling search engines that you want to provide impartial and independent information to your clients. These independent links can include legal associations, government sites, and so forth. But don't forget links to your OWN news articles and publications too, not to mention your Linkedin page, or even the website of any charities you're associated with.

1. Hire a professional
There are hundreds of professional writers out there with experience writing attorney biographies. They will interview you, usually on the phone, get a sense of the style of writing your firm prefers, and submit the first draft of your biography to you if you wish to edit it. Usually after a few run-throughs of this, you will in the end have something that you would not have been able to write on your own.

Matt DeLucia is president of Business Edge Internet Design, a website design agency with locations in New York City and Connecticut with over 100 law firm clients and hundreds of sites built over 17 years. Call 212-931-8538 or contact us here.

Should your law firm be concerned with online reviews?

Online reviews are everywhere; you've likely seen them for restaurants, for instance, but have you seen any for law firms? Your clients are more and more likely to read reviews about your law firm, and even post them: a 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey found that 72% of surveyed consumers  trusted online reviews as much as they did personal recommendations. Even more important, 52% said that positive online reviews made them more likely to use a local business. So why wouldn't this also affect their choice for a law firm? Logic points to a growing tendency to use noline reviews for service companies like law firms, accounting and financial firms, and insurance, to name a few.

So what can your law firm do to improve its online reviews? There are firms out there who propose to do this work for you; SEO firms, and even some firms who specialize in this.  They will produce the reviews for you, and attempt to counteract negative reviews.  While this sounds like a great idea, what it WILL do is create a review history for your firm that will look and reek like fake reviews. What's better than fake reviews? No reviews at all. Fake reviews make your firm look like it's cheating, and people who have even a smidgen of online experience will detect that a mile away. Try to avoid this if you can, as these companies, like fly-by-night SEO companies that do more harm to your domain property than good, will NOT give your company a better reputation.

The best way to get your firm good reviews is to actively solicit them from your clients. At the end of every client matter, send an email asking them what they thought of the work that was done for them. You can even send them a link to Google Plus, Yahoo Local, or a number of other influential business reviewing sites where they can tell me what a great job you did (perhaps find out if they are happy with your work before sending them the link!)

If you have an intern, admin person, or a marketing person with some on their hands, you can have them take your clients' comments and enter them into the review area themselves; while this is not as good as the clients doing it themselves, you'll certainly have a lot more control over the content this way.  If you DO hire someone to add your reviews, at least give them REAL REVIEWS from actual clients to use. The results will be significantly more realistic and professional that way.

Here are some links to get you started:

Google Local:
Yahoo Local:
Bing Local:
Complete list of review sites:

Matt DeLucia is president of Business Edge Internet Design, a website design agency with locations in New York City and Connecticut with over 100 law firm clients and hundreds of sites built over 17 years. Call 212-931-8538 or contact us here.