Spring Cleaning: 6 Ways to Clean Up Your Site

February 18, 2013 Mike Weisert

Here in the Midwest, we recently had the one day in winter where it jumps to 60 degrees. It got me thinking about springtime and, more specifically, spring cleaning. What if every spring we went through our websites to sweep out the dust and remove clutter? Here are 6 items to focus on this spring:

1. Cut Out Search Clutter
Let’s take a trip back in time. In the year 1999, a little-known search company called Google entered the market to take on the search giant Yahoo. Their UI strategy? Simplify the search. Let’s compare the two sites:

yahoo google comparison from 1999

You’ll notice that while Yahoo has significantly changed over the last 14 years, Google has barely changed at all. Let’s apply the Google approach to search and, more specifically, attorney search. Is your site a Google or is your site a Yahoo?

2. Practices + Industries = Capabilities
This one may not be for everyone, but we often see an opportunity on sites to consolidate separate navigation tabs for practices and industries. How can you tell if you can make it work?  Are your industry pages a description of the industry, followed by practice areas? If you cannot identify a differentiating factor on the industry, such as unique capabilities or experience, get rid of it.

3. Group Your Capabilities
Related to the last point, try grouping your capabilities to make understanding your services easier. Let’s look at a typical practice listing page layout:

Accountants Liability
Antitrust
Appellate
Banking
Communications
Employee Benefits
Food & Drug Regulatory
Healthcare
Intellectual Property Litigation
Labor and Employment
M&A
Privacy
Products Liability
Public Finance
Real Estate
Tax
Transportation
Trusts & Estates


Can you identify (at a glance) all the practices that may be applicable to an individual? How about General Counsel for a large corporation? If the services were grouped by category, your target users would be able to quickly understand how your firm can best serve them. It would also inform your potential client that you offer multiple services specific to their needs.

4. Avoid the NASCAR look
Your firm has recently won a prestigious award - congratulations! Prominent awards are excellent features on your website. What about the award from your local chamber of commerce? Do you place it next to your Chambers and US News icon? Your firm likely wins several awards every year. Try to find the correct areas to promote them, such as the office detail page for a regional award, or on the careers page for a diversity award. It’s important to lead with your strongest awards in prominent areas aimed at your target audience. Don’t water down their importance with less important ones. Imagine if your website was a personal resume; don’t let it read like this:

Accolades:

  • Nobel Peace Prize - Chemistry
  • Harvard University – Cum Laude
  • Cook County 3rd Grade Spelling Championship – Runner Up

5. Minimize the Overview
Do you enjoy writing overview text for each practice of your firm? Of course not (or at least I hope not)! The overview serves as a brief introduction to the practice, but often little else. Your potential clients want to know relevant information (Experience, Awards, Clients, Legal Counsel, etc.) about your service, not an essay with vague descriptions.

6. Remove the Print Icon
A question for you – what was the last web page you printed from your iPad? How about your Android phone? Printing is expensive and cumbersome. The 300-page report from your website weighs about 5 lbs printed on paper and will eat up a $30 ink cartridge. On my phone, it barely takes up a megabyte. Combined with features such as PDF binders or use of resources like Google Reader, users don’t need to print from websites. If someone must print a page, what is to stop them from using the well known ‘File – Print’? Avoid making your site appear outdated by including the print icon.

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Mike Weisert

At the time of publishing, Mike was a Senior Strategist at One North.

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