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Law firm blog and Web design must be tailored for target audience, not law firm customer

August 13, 2005

Greg Storey, publisher of Airbag Industries and one of the leaders in Web design (I’ll grant you that Greg), has a great post arising out of a survey conducted by Gloria Moss, Research fellow at the University of Glamorgan Business School and statistician Rod Gunn. They wanted to find out if if businesses and organizations are making the most of their web presence to help them reach their particular target audiences. The answer:

What we have found is that organizations are not considering how they can tailor their websites to appeal to their entire target audience. If this is true for education institutions, then it is also very likely to be true for businesses who are not attaining their potential because their website isn’t meeting the visual needs of their audience.

LexBlog does custom blog designs as part of it’s turnkey solution. If we’re good at anything, we’re good at letting the designers do the design. I may have been in Web development and Internet marketing for the last 10 years and have an inkling of what I like and dislike, but I sure as heck am not competent to do design work.

I often remind lawyers that they are not competent to comment on the details of the design. Sure we want their input on who the target audience is, the firm’s branding, blogs & colors they like or dislike, their personal style and a few other things. But it is the height of folly to have a lawyer say this goes here, this is in bold, this shadow here, this image on the page like this etc. That would make as much sense as one of the lawyer’s clients saying I want to use this expert Witness, this set of interrogatories, to draft the pleading with these words and to ask these questions in the cross examination. Lawyers were hired to do that work.

Look at one of LexBlog’s most successal clients, as measured by new clients who contact them because of their blog. When I first saw the design for Mann Law Group’s IP Litigation Blog, I thought the designer had lost their mind. It liked some sort of video game. I was not about to show it to a 50 year old lawyer who comes from a traditional law firm background.

My designer said “We don’t care what you, the lawyer or I think, we care what the target audience thinks.” The target audience was the inventor looking for legal redress for violations of the inventor’s patents and who wanted a lawyer to handle it on a contingency fee basis. They wanted one of their own.

Turns out the lawyer Phil Mann kind of liked the design and said let’s roll with it. He gets about a call a week from a good prospective client because of his blog.

And for the legal marketing professionals putting up with grief from lawyers on Web design and Internet marketing (I am not sure I can say it in public) but both the above study and Greg Storey found it may be the male ego driving the design that was screwing things up as far as the end user’s needs.

Not saying all legal marketing professionals are women, but I regularly talk to some of the most talented and hard working marketing professionals you could ever find who happen to be women working in law firms. You wouldn’t believe the politics many need to play to get design and Internet marketing projects approved by the (male?) powers that be. As I have said, there ought to be a special place in heaven for these marketing professionals.

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