Edwards Wildman, a Boston-based firm of 600 lawyers in 16 offices in the US, Europe and Asia, was born from the 2011 merger of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP and Wildman Harrold Allen & Dixon LLP. The merger resulted in a global, geographically diverse, Am Law 100 law firm, exacerbating the need for a ‘one voice, one brand, one solution’ approach to its online website presence. An early website re-skin project, which combined the two firms’ content and introduced a new logo, worked well during the merger transition in 2011. However, the firm’s freshly redesigned and engineered website, launched late in 2013, accentuates the new Edwards Wildman brand and identity and further demonstrates its global reach and expertise.
A 12-person website committee, including marketers, IT, attorneys and firm leadership, all united to make the website redesign a success. In addition, One North Interactive, the experienced interactive and digital agency for law firms and other professional service organizations, partnered with the firm to deliver a comprehensive web solution.
The Edwards Wildman project team – spearheaded by digital marketing experts Jennifer O’Leary Cathell, eMarketing, Design & Brand Manager, and Gina Carriuolo, Director of Marketing – was determined to create an exceptional user experience that would provide client value by:
- speaking to a broader audience
- representing one unified brand, beyond logos and colors, and brand promise
- articulating the unified firm’s commitment to diversity and pro-bono work
- demonstrating its ability to compete – and grow – in a global and dynamic market for legal services
- providing more comprehensive search functionality
- improving navigation
- leveraging existing social media, while also facilitating the use of other new media
- integrating separate firm blogs and content sources into the main website
Of all the various objectives, branding the merged firm in a unique and integrated way and demonstrating its global expertise were paramount to a successful redesign. “This website allowed us to change the way we deliver our message to the marketplace,” said Gina Carriuolo, “We would like visitors to learn who we are by what we've done and let our lawyers’ experience speak for itself.”
After an extremely thorough and collaborative planning process, Edwards Wildman and One North sought to implement an aggressive 8-month website project spanning strategic planning, design, technical architecture, testing and overall implementation.
More than three months into the site redesign, the firm has been able to realize significant changes in website traffic. New content, enhanced through cross-promotion, is driving interest in the firm's wide array of professionals' blogs. Web visitors are able to tap into a deeper knowledge base and, more importantly, find related resources based on specific interests and legal needs, in one central, easy-to-access location, versus spread out among sprawling web pages. A more detailed list of new site functions and features includes:
EXPERIENCE MAP: Using the Google Maps API, an experience map dynamically plots points around the world map to illustrate the firm’s global experience. The pins open to tell stories of where the firm has been, and what they’ve done, and proves that it’s cross-border skills and expertise – not the physical location of a lawyer – that drives global client success.
FLUID, TOUCH-FRIENDLY DESIGN: Scaling images and site elements allow visitors to move from desktop to tablet with ease.
SECTION SLIDER: Each landing page of the site includes a swipeable slider that allows you to page through the sections. In a site without mega menus, each landing page is designed to create a bold, engaging experience.
FILTERABLE EXPERIENCE: Though most law firm sites include all levels of experience and all related details on attorney bio pages, Edwards Wildman customized the way it presents this information by allowing users to filter an attorney’s experience based on what’s most relevant to their needs.
A NEW TAKE ON SITE SEARCH RESULTS: The robust and intuitive search function is a prominent component of the new site. Search results start with a clean, relevancy-based listing. Users can then apply section filters to narrow results. An additional layer of dynamic information, such as latest activity for the search, which pulls recent activity from the firm’s marketing database; lawyers for the search, which include photos; and other services, insights and more are included to the right of the main search results. This sidebar approach allows the firm to preserve relevancy in a clean listing, while still presenting some of the rich information that’s relative to a user’s search query.
BLOG INTEGRATION: The user is no longer required to access and consume the firm’s blog content separately from the firm’s main site, as all of the Edwards Wildman blogs are now presented alongside other thought leadership information. This helps present the whole picture of a practice or an individual’s thought leadership efforts.
FULL-SIZED ATTORNEY PHOTOS: Edwards Wildman shot all new lawyers bio photos, and uses a full body shot in many instances, a unique approach to displaying professionals.
COMMUNICATING CHANGE AND SHARING RESULTS
The firm's new site launch in September provided the opportunity to reintroduce the online presence to its staff, clients and strategic alliance partners. The web team sent personal notes to employees articulating the aforementioned site improvements and how they could contribute, through adding content and usability feedback, to the dynamic web presence. Bit by bit, word spread, and before long, firm clients noticed the new dynamic site.
“We knew we had significant internal support and excitement for the new site,” began Edwards Wildman Chairman, Alan Levin, “and also we have been pleasantly surprised by the positive and constructive feedback and well wishes received from clients and colleagues.”
There are many ways to gauge website feedback and activity, ranging from website monitoring tools to sophisticated analytics programs. Beyond that, word-of-mouth and direct feedback from peers, industry analysts and even critiques are invaluable in understanding how well the redesigned site is performing in the context of increasing client access, interaction and overall service. In the months since the new site has launched, the firm’s site visits have increased significantly, surpassing initial projections, based on a very measured and methodical roll-out of new features and functions. The largest traffic increase was registered on the firm’s biography pages, exceeding 500 percent versus other features.
“Our new forward-thinking website is calibrated to Edwards Wildman’s new brand and identity,” says Jennifer O’Leary Cathell. “It’s already helped us to celebrate our firm’s successes, validate the experience of our lawyers and practices and demonstrate our full global breath of activity. We’re eager to continue to track both its success, and the additional benefits that it brings the firm.”
According to Edwards Wildman, the new site is a fluid work in progress and will continue to evolve as the content needs and information access requirements of firm users and clients progress.