The percentage of visitors to your law firm's website who convert into leads (i.e., contact you to inquire about retaining your firm) is a function of how user-friendly the site is. As expressed by usability expert Todd Follansbee, "the quality of the user experience is the most important factor in buying decisions."
To maximize the user experience on your site, it's important to conduct usability testing. That means identifying your business goals for the site, and then determining how easy it is for visitors to accomplish them.
Goal #1: generate leads
- How easy is it to contact the firm?
- Can visitors quickly find information concerning your firm's areas of expertise and past successes?
- Is the expertise of individual attorneys apparent from their bio page? (generally achieved with links to related data such as articles published or success stories)
Goal #2: sign up visitors for our law firm email newsletter
Usability Question: how easy is it to sign up for the email newsletter?
Goal #3: boost registrations for firm-sponsored events
Usability Question: how easy is it for people to register for events on our website?
You get the picture.
Who can test for these things? Typically, NOT the folks who worked on the site - i.e., the programmer and designers at your outside vendor, and the internal staff who managed them. Having worked on the site for so long, their "identity" is tied up in the site, and they have mentally committed to a particular look-and-feel. Moreover, they know "exactly" how to perform various tasks because they are the ones who implemented the navigation necessary to accomplish them. As such, they can't bring an unbiased, objective view to the table of the kind you'd get from someone visiting the site for the first time.
Instead, as Follansbee recommends in his article entitled Usability Testing on a Zero Budget, find five people with little or no familiarity with your site who match the profile of your firm's "average" client and are willing to give you one hour to walk through various goal-oriented tasks on your website (e.g., contact the firm, find an attorney, etc.) in accordance with Follansbee's testing guidelines. Follansbee claims his approach will uncover over 90% of your site's usability problems.