Your website is an important piece of your legal firm’s marketing machine. It can serve as a brochure and as a hub for all of your online marketing activities.
A visit to your website is also likely to be the first interaction that people have with your firm. Your website’s design will make or break the first impression they have of your firm.
It takes about two-tenths of a second to form a first impression of your firm based on your website. The next 10 seconds or so will then reinforce that first impression.
That can determine if they stay on the site to learn more about your law practice, or decide to contact you for a consultation.
Read on if you want tips to create a website that makes a lasting first impression.
1. Be Creative in Your Design
Most attorney websites are predictable. There’s an image of at least one attorney in a suit, with sliders that highlight their areas of practice.
They also use the same colors (red or blue are typical), and the same template.
Since this is what people typically expect when they visit an attorney’s website, this is your chance to wow them right off the bat.
Go for something completely different, like a large image of you and your team in business casual attire talking to a client.
2. Be Approachable
Most people don’t like contacting attorneys because they think they won’t be approachable. Most attorneys’ websites don’t do anything to change that view!
Think about how you want someone to feel when they visit your website. Do you want them to feel intimidated or do you want to come across as a friendly, trusted advisor?
You might be hesitant to do something like this because you think it takes away from the serious nature of your work. When it’s done well, it will show you as caring, compassionate, and relatable.
That human touch can make a tremendous difference in the number of people who contact you from your website.
Take a look at the website for The Law Office of Julie Johnston. Take a look at her site to discover more. The site immediately hits home the seriousness of her clients’ issues, but she also appears very approachable. This is the balance you want to strike with your own website.
3. Know Your Ideal Client
A lot happens when someone visits your website for the first time. They’ll get an immediate impression based on the design of the site. They’ll look at your logo and other design elements to support that first impression.
A part of that process is scanning headlines.
This is why you need to understand your client’s needs. You need to craft a headline that captures their attention and has them say, “That’s me.”
4. Use Whitespace & Quality Images
Two basic website design elements that can be overlooked are images and whitespace.
When you use images, use images that support your brand and what you want to communicate.
Images that aren’t congruent with your marketing messages can easily confuse visitors. Avoid stock images, as they will come across as inauthentic and could turn off website visitors.
Keep your image sizes small and compress them before you upload them to your website. Not doing so will slow the loading time of your website.
Whitespace is essentially open space on a webpage. It can be used strategically to draw attention to the most important elements of your website.
If you fill up your website and have little to no whitespace, your site will be cluttered and difficult for visitors to see what they should do when they are on your site.
5. Keep Your Navigation Simple
Your site’s visitors need to be able to find information quickly. If someone can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they will leave your site.
Keep your navigation limited to the most important items and have them listed in an organized hierarchy.
6. Have Clear Calls to Action
Your goal for your website should be to convert visitors into clients. In order to do that, you need them to sign up for a consultation.
You can have several calls to action throughout your site, but each page must have only one call to action.
7. Get it Ready for Search
Your website can have the best design, but if people can’t find it in search results, it doesn’t exist.
The design of your website does impact search. Google bases its search results on over 200 factors in its algorithm. The most important ones related to website design are speed, site structure, responsiveness to mobile devices, and how long people stay on your site.
8. List Testimonials and Achievements
Building trust with potential clients is the most important element of the client/attorney relationship.
The visual elements of your site should build trust. You can reinforce that trust by having your accomplishments listed on your site.
Client reviews and testimonials can also reinforce trust by showing how you helped people just like the person visiting your website.
9. How Will You Show Progress?
Your final task in your website’s design is to set up tracking. You want to be able to measure your website’s progress.
The best tracking mechanism is Google Analytics. It’s free to use and easy to install. You can track how many visitors your site has, where they’re coming from, and how long they stay on your site.
You can also set up goals to track conversions. For instance, you can set up a goal when someone fills out a contact form. This allows you to see which marketing efforts are generating the biggest results.
Basic Website Design Tips That Gets Results
These basic website design tips are geared to inspire you to be more creative, and acquire new customers.
By being approachable and allowing your clients to see past the suits and credentials, they can find it easy to hire you because they feel that there’s a personal connection.
If you want to know more about using your website to drive leads and clients to your law practice, check out our blog.
Brexit Unknown Makes UK Businesses Nervous
Brexit is certainly making businesses nervous right now, and there are many reasons for that. Despite almost three years having passed since the original vote, things are no clearer as to what the impact will be on business or what kind of trading relationships the UK will have with the EU going forward. Therefore, some nervousness is to be expected.
UK Businesses Rely on EU Workers
UK businesses of all kinds and in all industries employ EU workers. The question that remains unanswered is how those working relationships will function after Brexit has properly occurred.
There are guarantees in place that workers currently residing in the UK will be able to carry on living here, but it’s not at all clear whether more EU workers will be able to move here with ease after Brexit, and most indications suggest that won’t be the case. This will certainly have a big impact on businesses in many sectors. See this article on: Solicitors talk Brexit.
All Types of Workers Are Required for the UK Economy to Function
One idea that has been floated by the UK government is the idea of an income threshold, meaning only those earning more than a certain amount of money will be allowed to live and work in the UK. This would mean that highly skilled workers would find it much easier to work in the UK than low skilled workers would.
However, the UK economy relies on both skilled and low skill labour in order to function properly. If that supply of low income workers was cut off after Brexit, more businesses would struggle.
Contingency Planning Might Not be Enough for Small Businesses
For big businesses, contingency plans are already being put in place. This is expensive and time-consuming for large companies, but it will mean that they’re able to protect themselves against the upheaval brought about by Brexit. On the other hand, small businesses don’t always have that option because they don’t have the resources to put adequate contingency plans in place. It’s those small businesses, therefore, that are likely to be hit hardest.
It’s clear that small businesses are not opening at the rate they previously were because of Brexit uncertainty too. This denies the UK economy future growth prospects as well as depriving society of potentially successful ideas and businesses.
What Can Business Do to Prepare?
In terms of what businesses should be doing now, it’s best to seek professional legal advice about the situation, what you can expect and where your business and its staff stand. You should also analyse your supply chain and think about how that could change in the future under various Brexit scenarios. It might also be a good idea to look at existing contracts with EU companies and seek clarifications regarding those.
The Brexit situation is constantly in a state of flux, so things can change very quickly in one direction or the other. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to be watching and listening so that they can work out what their next move should be in order to prepare properly and minimise risk.
If You Own A Business, You Need An Estate Plan
It’s an unfortunate fact that arguments over material possessions break out between family members when somebody dies. It’s rough when one beneficiary thinks they’re entitled to that person’s possessions and financial resources more than the others. The complexity of the situation is amplified when the deceased person owned a business.
If you’ve got a family, you have every reason to care about what will happen to your business when you die. Your business has the potential to be an investment for your children or a nest egg for your spouse. If you haven’t created an estate plan that includes your business, it’s time to create one.
Start with a will
Your will is the most basic estate planning document. It allows you to declare who will be named the executor of your business. Your business executor will be responsible for continuing the business.
Dying without a will places a huge burden on your employees, business partners, and the success of your company.
Although a will is important, it’s not everything.
Your will isn’t the principle governing document of your estate
Our USA based readers may be interested in what’s in this article titled: What Might Surprise You About Your Will, CG Trust explains that many assets don’t fall under a will or probate like real estate, life insurance, and mutual funds. When you purchase these assets, you’re asked to assign a beneficiary and sometimes a contingent beneficiary.
When you specify a beneficiary for an asset, that overrides anything stated in general terms in your will. For example, say you leave everythin’ to your aunt Suzie in your will and your children are listed as beneficiaries on your life insurance policy. Your aunt Suzie can’t touch your life insurance policy – only your listed beneficiaries can.
Identify your designated beneficiaries for all business assets. If it’s not somebody you want to inherit that asset, change your beneficiary immediately. Remember, a beneficiary on a specific asset overrides what’s in your will.
Focus on minimizing your taxes
Most people don’t realize that when a business owner passes away, the estate taxes can tank the business. Estate taxes can be more than 50% of the value of your business and must be paid within nine months of your death. Most businesses need to liquidate to pay these taxes.
Thankfully, the IRS has tax breaks in Section 303 and Section 6166 that can protect your business. Section 303 deals with using stock to pay death and funeral taxes; Section 6166 deals with Federal estate taxes.
Both sections make it easier to pay necessary taxes without breaking up your business.
Avoid probate as much as possible
Although the process is mostly clerical, probate ties up assets for months (sometimes years) and can be expensive. It’s best to plan ahead to avoid probate as much as you can.
When you create a properly structured ILIT living trust, the benefits paid from the insurance policy won’t pass through probate. The funds will be available immediately to cover estate taxes and other financial obligations.
You can also establish a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT). With this trust in place, if your assets grow over the terms of that trust, the appreciation won’t be subject to estate taxes. This allows you to pass your business assets to your kids or your spouse.
Declare power of attorney
You need to declare power of attorney to someone trustworthy to handle legal matters on behalf of the business when you pass away. This individual will be in charge of things like payroll, managing vendor payments, and financial assets.
If you don’t declare power of attorney to someone before you die, the court will appoint a guardian who may not have your company’s best interests in mind.
You also need a succession plan
A succession plan is designed to ensure your business runs as smoothly as possible; it’s a plan that chooses decision makers and creates a strategy for transferring company information to the right people. Although the details for every business will be different, Fidelity.com describes what might be included in this plan.
For example, a management succession plan might include training your successors, delegating responsibilities, and bringing in an outside advisor for their objectivity. An ownership succession plan might include defining who will own vs. manage the business, creating terms that consider your family’s best interests and timing the transfer of your business to avoid a discounted sale of your business.
Get professional guidance
Making sure your business survives and stays in good hands when you die is important. If you’re not sure where to start, contact an estate planning professional for help.
4 Things to Consider When Creating a Business Continuity Plan
One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is abiding by the “it will never happen to me” rule in regards to disasters. Each year, thousands of natural disasters occur all over the country.
Acts of nature like wildfires or floods can lead to a business closing for long periods of time. The only way to prevent problems when dealing with disastrous situations is by creating a business continuity plan.
Studies show that nearly 82 percent of the businesses in the United States do not have the IT infrastructure in place to deal with a disastrous act of nature or network outage. Instead of leaving the functionality of your business to chance, now is the time to take continuity planning seriously.
The following are some of the things you should consider when creating a business continuity plan.
1. Work on Identifying the Potential Threats You Face
Before you can create a comprehensive business continuity plan, you need to adequately identify the potential threats your business faces. Having a plan for a variety of possible disasters can help you rebound in a hurry following one of these events. Some business owners only make continuity plans to deal with things like natural disasters, but there are many more disastrous situations to consider.
For instance, figuring out what you would do to keep your business functional in the event of an employee strike or cyber-attack is essential. Once you have a list of possible disaster situations, you need to map out all of their outcomes.
If you are unsure about how to map out these outcomes, working with professionals who are experienced in continuity planning is a must. Often times, these professionals will be able to look at these situations objectively and help you figure out how to create adequate plans for each one.
2. Constructing a Recovery Team is a Must
One of the most vital parts of a successful business continuity plan is creating a recovery team. If you want to keep your own staff freed up during a disaster, hiring a third-party to perform this job is easy. Before hiring a company to fill this role, you need to assess the amount of experience they have.
Not only can a third-party act as your recovery team, they can also help you hone and refine your existing continuity plan. Allowing professionals to get a look at this plan can help you out greatly. They will be able to look at your continuity plan objectively and provide you with guidance on how to improve and strengthen it.
3. Know What is At Stake Without a Continuity Plan
Driving home the importance of a continuity plan is easy if you actually assess what you stand to lose without one. Often times, businesses without a comprehensive continuity plan will lose a lot of money in the event of a disaster.
While some of this money can be recouped via a class action lawsuit, a business may still lose lots of customers in the process. You can learn more about disaster-related lawsuits with a bit of online research.
4. Prioritizing is Vital When Creating One of These Plans
When disaster strikes, you will have to limit the number of resources your team uses. When creating a business continuity plan, it is important to figure out what technology or systems you need up and going first. Having this list of priorities in hand in the event of a disaster can help you limit the amount of downtime your team experiences.
Instead of trying to take on this complicated process alone, you need to reach out to disaster recovery professionals. With their help, you can get a plan in place in a hurry.
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