putting the FAN in evangelism – spreading your messages by daring to share what you are a FAN of
How your professional website can win you more clients
If you are with a business that uses your website to win more clients – here are tips on how you can be more effective.
I’m not a web designer. I’m not touting for web designing business. I do help businesses improve the way they engage with (and as a result win more business) – so I carefully analyse professional websites from around the world.
I am real website “nerd” – and that “nerdiness” can help you. I know this stuff – I love this stuff! Not actually technically creating the websites – but the strategies of engagement, the power of the words and images you use, and being audience-focussed!
As a lawyer turned journalist and business consultant, I am particularly interested in legal websites. The same principles outlined below, YOU can use for other professions too.
Here’s what you can do to make sure your website wins YOU more business.
Click on to your website and see where your eyes are naturally attracted. Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone visiting your site.
What is their experience like?
Are you bombarded by too much text or is the site audience-friendly and welcoming with clear (but not “too pushy”) Guided Action – the eye is guided to the most important parts and the reader is politely encouraged to take action that leads to engagement with your business.
Make sure that readers don’t just LOOK and LEAVE!
1. Movement attracts attention – and lots of more modern websites have movement – changing images. The movement attracts the eye. Then you read the associated brief text. The text usually prompts action.
A clever example and good example for you to “experience” is the Slater & Gordon Website. I don’t work for Slater & Gordon. Because I am a former lawyer and work with lots of different lawyers– I often analyse legal websites.
I pay special attention to law firms that specialise as plaintiff firms – because they usually have to attract and appeal to the everyday people (plaintiffs) rather than big corporate clients. Plaintiff firms have to use different audience-engagement techniques.
Legal firms – especially plaintiff firms – have to be:
Most law firms are already good at the credible part. The most successful ones these days are improving how they can be more visible (through media attention, being more shareable and visible on social media) and by coming across as approachable.
Lawyers in Australia have, until recently, been slower to adopt more modern client engagement techniques – but I’m noticing a big push this year for Australian legal firms to get more modern and client-focussed.
Now – I don’t want to be sued for any breach of copyright – so I won’t link to the sites I refer to or use any of their actual wording.
However, I encourage YOU (after you have read this post) to search for and study the websites.
I find the changing images on the Slater& Gordon site attract my eye – I am drawn in to the area that interests me most – then the text encourages me to take the action of clicking further into the relevant information. What got my attention was the free super assessment – but different audiences will have different interests.
Is your site using movement or changing images to draw the eye?
Yesterday, I was chatting over coffee with a law school buddy. We both were admitted as Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Queensland. I went on to pursue a career as a journalist and political speechwriter and business communication consultant. He stayed with the law and went on to become a senior partner in the firm Macdonnells Law.
My mate mentioned that his firm had this week updated its website – so I checked it out and I was genuinely impressed.
I disclose that this lawyer is a close friend – but I do not work for the firm. I was genuinely curious to see how his firm was “getting more modern” with its web site – and as a legal website “nerd” I was very impressed.
It’s a great example of how YOU can make your site more audience-focussed.
I recommend that YOU see how the MacDonnell’s Law site uses the movement of changing images.
I “tested” the engagement myself.
First of all, the changing images attracted my eye. The family law offering attracted my attention (not because I have a family law problem – but because it was of more human interest to me than the agri-business offering!)
I then clicked though to the family law information – on the left was information – on the right (what I call the acton zone) were pictures of humans ( the specialist lawyers) I could check out their profiles if I chose.
The “feel” was like the lawyers were standing off to the side – visibly available and approachable – but not too pushy.
Then further down the action zone I could access more resources – fact sheets etc. – reader-friendly (Plain English) fact sheets branded with the company identity and contacts. Simple, effective, and clever!
Is your site doing using similar guided action techniques?
Or is your site just a lot of information the reader has to wade through?
The key to a good legal website these days if for clients to easily find what’s relevant to them – and to be encouraged to go deeper into the site to further engagement.
It’s interesting to compare what I call a “softer” and the more graceful pace of the transitions on the MacDonnells Law website.
Many international sites are full of flashy and sometimes “noisy” quick flashes of all the wonderful things they do. These sites frustrate me because I don’t get time to read the text – and I read reasonably quickly. It’s as if the sites are “saying” – be impressed at how magnificent we are. Look how big we are around the world! Look at our fancy shizz-bang site!
It’s important that the images and text “stay up” long enough for the audience to absorb. I’m a former TV reporter and producer so I carefully study and even time the transitions between images and whether it’s a straight cut, a flash, or a gentle dissolve.
The transitions help create the mood for the reader. Is the mood zippy and fast and dynamic or gentle and calming and measured? What’s the reader experience? How do you want YOUR audience to feel?
2. The power of images (centrally placed) to draw the eye.
In the West, we usually read from top to bottom and from left to right – yet YOU can direct a reader’s attention to other parts of what’s on screen.
From my experience consulting to newspapers and magazines, I know the importance of a good image to draw the eye and direct attention to words nearby. Often readers are attracted to a story on-line or in print – because of an image.
I find when I look at the Slater &Gordon website, my eye is also drawn to the images in the centre under the caption How can we help you.
I recommend that you (if you don’t do it already) attract the reader’s eye to how you can help them. In the past, businesses filled the screen with text all about the business rather than adopting an audience-focussed approach of how the business can help the audience.
3. Don’t just give information – encourage action (in a professional way)
Websites used to be just about bombarding a reader with information. Look at our history! Look at all the information we know!
Clever modern websites make it clearer and easier to help a busy reader know What to do – what I call Guided Action
In more modern websites – there is less text, more white space, and more verbs. Yes – VERBS!
Verbs are action words – what you want your audience to do. But you don’t want to appear too pushy.
I recommend that you attach a requested action (verb) to a reader benefit or you can soften the action with a polite PLEASE. I’ve highlighted the verbs in CAPITALS.
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So, take a good, hard and honest look at your own business website.
What is the reader experience?
Is your site reader focussed?
Is it easy for readers to find what is most relevant to them?
Do you politely and professionally GUIDE ACTION?
Do you use action verbs?
What the mood and “feel” of your site?
Further resources for you
If this topic interests you, I’d like to share one of my favourite international sites for Web Design – A US site called Great Jakes.
Sure, the site focusses on Law firms – but the principles apply to other professions too.
When I studied journalism and law in the United States – I was so impressed with how US lawyers also learned to communicate effectively with non-legal audiences.
US lawyers learn how to communicate with and persuade non-legal audiences – especially juries.
US lawyers have also perfected marketing to clients – and top Australian firms are starting to borrow from techniques US firms have been successfully using for years.
Marketing can be seen as a negative term to lawyers. I call it Business Development or Business Engagement!
Another fantastic site is The Human Business Way by Chris Brogan.
It was on one of Chris’s podcasts that I first heard about Great Jakes. I learn do much cool stuff from his podcasts – and you can too.
So who is writing this?
Hi, I’m Tony Biancotti and I’m a lawyer turned journalist and business communication consultant.
Sure, I’m a bit of a “nerd” when it comes to business communication – but I get lots of feedback that people like my enthusiastic knowledge of and passion for the power of words and images and techniques of engaging people.
I can share with you practical and easy-to-apply tips I’ve gathered over many years working as a:
I’m also a very busy dad and husband juggling my work and travel with family life and our two wonderful kids – Orlando and Cleo.
I’m based in Brisbane, Australia – and regularly travel for work throughout Australia and Asia-Pacific.