With website speed, first impressions really do count. A slow website will harm your law firm. The world operates much faster than in the past. This also means that when it comes to your law firm and your website speed, the faster the better. You typically have around 5 seconds to capture the attention of your website visitors, otherwise you run the risk of them leaving and visiting a competitor’s site instead.

Delivering a fast website experience allows you to build trust with your visitors, keeps them engaged with your content, and helps them understand what you do. Here are 10 ways to improve your website load speed.

With the ever shortening attention span of the mass population, you need to make sure that you have their attention and you can keep it. Here are 10 tips that will improve your website speed.

1. Get a better web hosting company

Slower website speed happens when the servers are overloaded. If you are experiencing issues with speed and you feel like your host may be the culprit, you might want to consider breaking up. When it comes to web hosting, a one-size fits all approach may not be in your best interest.

Advanced servers that are built to serve the masses can be more pricey, but they have faster loading website speeds. The amount of time your customer is waiting for your site to load, can cost you in the long run. Check out this Web Design company with an advanced server. They can speed up your website overnight!

2. Make your website smaller

Bigger isn’t always better especially when inviting visitors over to your website. Large files within the coding may slow down your speed and take longer to load. Making sure to follow basic rules can help maximize your speed on a large website. Such as:

  • Using images sparingly, instead of overloading your website with graphics.
  • Compress your files.
  • Utilizing Minimal fonts.
  • Use proper coding and keep it simple (use this coding assessment).

3. Minimize external requests

By minimizing external requests for content you’re helping to boost your website speed. Instead of having external links, optimizing embedded links to social media can be helpful.

Since these tend to load after the main pages, it can drag down your speed.

4. Don’t use a WordPress theme

WordPress themes have a tendency to come with preloaded codebases that overload your website and make it run at a snail’s pace. One alternative to purchasing a WordPress theme is by having a web developer create a customized website just for you.

If you are still wanting a DIY option, try researching some lesser known sites that have a more sleek codebase. Cleaning up your website’s backend will be worth it in the long run.

5. Lower the number of redirects you are using on your site

Every time your URL is redirected and bounces back and forth trying to find the server, it creates a situation to lose website speed. Utilizing accurate URL in your script can help.

If you create a direct path for your scripts and files, then unnecessary redirects will be obsolete and your visitors will see what they need faster.

6. Remove unnecessary plugins

In the event that you decide to add plugins to your theme, double checking that you are only installing what you need will help to make the website speeds more optimal. There’s no need for any extras in this department. It only takes up additional space and doesn’t serve your website.

Some themes come with built-in plugins and while they can help in easier setup of your site, they can drag you down in speed if it’s options that you aren’t using. For example, if you have a physical product and buy a template that has an e-commerce plugin already added, you may not be ready to utilize it at the moment.

7. Compress images

Less is more when it comes to compressing your images. Using tools and software to help create smaller images can help with load times while still maintaining high quality.

You can save a substantial amount of data by implementing tools such as TinyPNG to assist with the compression.

8. Lazy load images

It’s well known that our society is leaning more towards visuals to get our attention. Adding interesting and supportive graphics and images can aid in attracting visitors to you site. Since these images can pull a lot of weight from the speed needed to load successfully, sometimes the images are slow to load.

There’s not much worse than trying to view a page and see the dreaded loading circle spinning and spinning. We as a society are not typically patient people.

9. Scale your images

Adding images to your site can be more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but the proper sizing of the image is important as well. Changing the scale of your images can boost speed time and help create a visual experience for your visitors.

The larger the image, the more data it takes to download. Making sure you load the proper size image is beneficial to your website speed.

10. HTTP Caching

Navigating the internet with code can be made more difficult since the network and server need to tag team to fetch the website. The traveling of information multiple times can slow down your need for speed.

Ensuring that the correct HTTP cache is valuable. Performance is boosted by the reusing of information stored in the browser’s cache.

There are numerous ways that you may be losing precious time due to poor practices on the backend of your website design and development. Not all is lost, by implementing a few changes you can gain website speed. This will ensure that your not losing visitors and they aren’t losing patience from long wait times.

 

Post originally featured on Attorney at Law Magazine

In the post , we visualize your ideal customer and define one or two niches that will be the focus of your firm. To assess the things your firm excels at and what your firm needs to improve (strengths and weaknesses), as well as promising opportunities and the biggest threats to your firm’s success. In this post, you will learn how to perform a SWOT analysis (otherwise known as SWOT matrix) to identify the internal and external factors of your firm that most affect your marketing.

WHAT IS A SWOT ANALYSIS?

In a SWOT analysis, you identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This step requires objectivity, having a clear picture of what you can do well, and knowing your limitations. When considering your strengths, it may help to step out of yourself and view your firm from your clients’ perspective. What would clients say is your biggest weakness? One way to determine your strengths and weaknesses is to send clients a brief survey at the end of each case. It may also help to ask your employees, colleagues, and even your competition what they see as your strengths. Most people who complete a SWOT analysis find that they are better at identifying either their strengths or their weaknesses. This probably correlates with whether you are a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty type person. Asking for outside help is most important for the areas you have a hard time seeing clearly.

GATHER YOUR SUPPLIES AND SET AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF

Get out a nice clean sheet of paper, or open your favorite word processing program and schedule out some time to stick to this exercise. Many professionals tend to skip over the actual writing of a SWOT analysis, assuming they can just think about their SWOTs when they have free time. However, these assessments are much more efficient when written out and when you allow plenty of time for honest reflection. Start by drawing a SWOT matrix, which is just a page split into four boxes.

This setup allows you to separate the most important factors that will drive your marketing plan into four distinct, prioritized lists. Across the top, you can easily see internal factors while the bottom boxes reveal external factors. The boxes on the left side reveal positive factors while the boxes on the right reveal negative factors. Fill in the boxes with as many details as you can. The following questions will help you to focus on each aspect of the analysis:

Strengths (Internal Factor)

  • What does your firm do better than anyone else?
  • What aspects of your company do several clients praise?
  • What makes your firm, or even your individual cases, successful?
  • What are the reasons people choose you as their representation?

Weaknesses (Internal Factor)

  • In which areas do you wish you had more knowledge or experience?
  • In the past, what has caused you to lose business to your competition?
  • Which aspects of your firm are you least likely to brag about?
  • What holds back you firm from being what it could be?

Opportunities (External Factor)

  • What are some things you wish your firm had time to do?
  • What upcoming events or trends could result in more business for your firm?
  • What impending changes in the law could affect your business?
  • What technological advances could change the way you do business?
  • Does any of your noted strengths reveal opportunities for business?

Threats (External Factor)

  • What are some of your biggest obstacles to increased revenue?
  • Who is your competition and what are they doing differently?
  • Will any impending policy or law changes affect your firm or clients in a negative way?
  • Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?

TIPS FOR THE MOST USEFUL SWOT ANALYSIS

  • Be specific. A vague sense of something possibly being a threat in the future is not as useful as a well-researched threat. That doesn’t mean you should leave vague threats off your list. However, you should find out more about them so you truly understand how they could hurt you.
  • Prioritize. It’s not necessary to do everything in order and not everything on your analysis carries equal weight. Put each list of your SWOT analysis — Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats — in order of importance, so you can emphasize your biggest strength and address your biggest weakness first.
  • Listen and learn. Check out what others are listing on their SWOTs. A quick Google search of SWOT analysis will bring up a lot of examples of completed SWOTs that could help spur thinking about your firm.
  • Ask for help. Bring in reinforcements. Ask everyone in your office for feedback as you complete the analysis. A receptionist might be aware of something your clients see as a strength that you overlooked.
  • Be objective. Do not respond to every weakness with a “but …” statement. Problems can only be fixed when you admit they are problems.

WHY IS A SWOT ANALYSIS SO IMPORTANT?

Everyone knows they have strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats, but sitting down to identify them and assess their priority helps with the future steps of your marketing plan. Although SWOT factors may always lurk in the back of your mind, writing them down and prioritizing them will help you to feel less overwhelmed and in control. When a potential client asks why they should hire you, the answer will roll right off your tongue.

 

Post originally featured on Conroy Creative Counsel

If you have a blog or website on WordPress, it is important you make regular backups to all your files and the site database. If something should ever happen to your site, having these backups prevents you from losing a lot of important data.

Fortunately, there are simple ways you can make these backups automatically, so you don’t have to remember to do it yourself. Perhaps the easiest is with a plugin called BackWPup.

Log in to your WordPress dashboard, click “plugins” and then “add new,” and search for BackWPup. After clicking “install now” and “activate,” you are ready to configure the plugin to automatically backup your WordPress data.

SETUP

Once the plugin is activated, click on the link “set up a backup job,” found on the welcome screen for the plugin near the top. This will take you to the job creation page. You can keep all of the default settings under the categories “Job Name,” “Job Tasks” and “Backup File Creation.”

JOB DESTINATION

The next step is to choose where you want your database backups to be saved. You have several areas to which you can backup your database:

  •      A specific folder
  •      Email attachments
  •      FTP
  •      Dropbox
  •      An S3 service
  •      Microsoft Azure
  •      Rackspace cloud files
  •      SugarSync

The option you choose is just a matter of personal preference. If you wish, you can select multiple options so you always have multiple areas in which your backups are located.

Once you have checked a box (or boxes) for where you want your backups to be saved, a new tab will appear at the top navigation of the main plugin page. You may need to fill in some additional information under this tab to establish a connection that allows the backup file transfer to occur. This could include an email address, an FTP file directory or an API key.

SCHEDULING BACKUPS

After you determine where you want your backups saved, you must then decide when you want them saved, and how frequently. The default setting is manual backup downloads, but ideally you will configure the plugin to update your backups on a weekly basis. You can choose the time and days that suit you best, but again, weekly updates are recommended. If you update your site especially frequently, you might choose daily updates instead.

SETTING ADDITIONAL OPTIONS

As the final step of configuring your backups, you should select the tables you wish to include in your database backup processes. The “DB Backup” tab allows you to make these selections. You can either choose specific tables, or press “all” if you want to back them all up. Be sure to click “save” after you have made your changes.

For more information and tips about data backups and web security, contact us today at Conroy Creative Counsel.

 

Post originally featured on Conroy Creative Counsel

Many attorneys’ marketing strategies focus on generating a high volume of leads, but is that really the best way to grow a business? Chris Anderson and Karin Conroy think not! Karin shares her key steps for helping lawyers connect with the right clients: insight, intake, and discovery. They outline how to filter down leads to find the best matches for your firm, what to do when you progress from lead to client, and how to curate meaningful client relationships throughout the process.

Today’s episode is about marketing. What’s interesting I think about today’s guest is that we’re not going to talk so much about how to get more leads, while many lawyers think that it is a solution more leads, more money, more money good, there are and there are plenty, plenty of vendors who — that is the extent of their conversation with you, and it will sell more leads as the solution when it’s very often really just a way to exacerbate a problem that’s going on with the business.

Hear more at this link:

Podcast: Unbillable Hour – Insight, Intake, Discovery: Making Less Equal More

Have you been looking for ways to spruce up your website so it has a more contemporary look and feel? There’s no better time than the present to move forward! Websites can become outdated quicker than you would think. A website designed 3 or 4 years ago can already feel like it’s not up to date with today’s styles and templates and market trends. The following are some of the best features you can add and strategies you can implement to revamp your web presence this year:

7 Ways to Spruce Up Your Website

SSL CERTIFICATES

SSL stands for “secure sockets layer,” a type of web protocol that encrypts information passed through computers. This is how companies can protect the private information of consumers, such as credit card information, passwords, login information and anything else that could potentially lead to fraud if exposed. It is more important than ever for businesses to use SSL certificates, as Google will start issuing warnings to users who enter sites without an SSL. This could scare away potential clients.

GREATER SITE SECURITY

Just like with SSL certificates, you can enhance the security on your end of the web, as well. Consider changing your passwords and make sure you have updated all the plugins you are using on your WordPress site. Cyber security is a crucial step to spruce up your website, and keep it safe in the long term.

NEW WEB DESIGN

You might choose to fully redesign your site or simply make a few changes to your layout. Consider whether you will add or remove content, where you will implement opt-in forms (such as mailing lists) and what type of overall aesthetic you are going for with your firm’s website design.

BETTER OPTIMIZE FOR MOBILE:

At this point, having a mobile-friendly website is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. More people now browse the internet via mobile than on desktop computers. Make sure your web design has been properly optimized for mobile use. It should both look good on mobile devices and have built-in functionality that takes into account how people browse the web on their smartphones and tablets.

IMPROVE YOUR SEO

Google is constantly updating its algorithms, which means search engine practices that worked a few years ago might not be effective today. Keep up to date with these algorithm changes and make the corresponding changes to your website’s search engine optimization that will help your site rank well.

IMPROVE YOUR SITE’S SPEED

Users will quickly navigate away from a site that loads too slowly. If you are having site speed issues, chances are there’s a problem with broken plugins, oversized image or video files, images or other files not caching in the server or poor hosting. You might also have pending updates you need to make to your site.

ENHANCE YOUR USER EXPERIENCE

User experience goes beyond loading times. You should double check that all links work, that your site is easy to navigate and that it’s easy for visitors to contact you for more information.


It’s a good idea to regularly review your website and think about any changes you should make to enhance its effectiveness at engaging potential clients. If so, consider taking the actions listed above to spruce up your website, and ensure it continues to set your firm apart in the increasingly competitive world of digital marketing.

 

Post originally appeared on Conroy Creative Counsel

This fall marks a big shift in the way Google Chrome handles security with certain websites. This means it is more important than ever for business owners and webmasters to have sites that are certified as being secure, with an HTTPS designation. Pay attention because the Google Chrome security settings have changed, and you’ll want to be in the know on this one, trust me.

These changes arose out of January’s release of Chrome version 56, which designates HTTP sites as “not secure” if the site has any password or credit card forms. Version 62 was slated to be released in October, which adds an additional “not secure” warning if a website requests any type of personal information—this includes contact forms, website offers, newsletter signup fields and more. The ultimate plan is for Google to label all HTTP sites as “not secure.”

Websites that still have an HTTP designation are in danger of not being viewed or being blocked from a significant portion of users, as 60 percent of all people are currently using Chrome as their primary browser. If your business is online with its own website, you should actively work to prevent this! Web traffic matters, right?

What You Need to Know About Chrome Security Settings

For companies that do a lot of their business or generate a lot of their leads online, this could mean a major loss of business. There has already been a 23 percent reduction in the fraction of navigations to HTTP pages that have either credit card or password forms since the changes were introduced in January. That number is expected to skyrocket after October’s changes go into effect.

Here is what you can do right now to secure your Chrome security settings:

HOW TO CHANGE TO HTTPS

So how do you get your site to be an HTTPS website instead of an HTTP website? The process is fairly straightforward, as there are many SSL certificate vendors and packages available:

  • Purchase an SSL certificate.
  • Install the SSL certificate on the hosting account you use for your website.
  • Ensure all of the links on your website are changed from HTTP to HTTPS so they will not be broken after your SSL certificate is installed.
  • Set up a series of 301 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS so all search engines are aware your website’s address has changed and so that anyone who has previously bookmarked any pages on your site will be automatically redirected to the secure HTTPS address after you have made the switch.

The process really is that simple. You may even be able to have your hosting service manage most of the changeover process for you.

There are multiple options available for SSL certificates, as companies tend to offer multiple packages. Some allow you to install your SSL certificate on multiple subdomains, others offer extended validation, others ensure mobile and browser compatibility. Consider the browsing habits of your users, your target audience and the way you use your website as you decide which type of package you will choose.


For more information about improving your website security, contact us today at Conroy Creative Counsel. We’ll work with you to guarantee that your Chrome security settings are up to date.

What measures have you taken already to make sure that your website is thoroughly secure?

Article: Original Source

In creating a website that has all the features of the best websites, be sure to avoid these pitfalls.

MISSING A CALL TO ACTION

All effective law firm websites have strong calls to action that are easy to find and prompt the visitor to act. You have about ten seconds to convey to visitors why they should contact the firm—and how to do so.

NOT CLIENT-CENTRIC

Some websites put too much attention on the lawyer. Your homepage should focus on the value you bring to clients. Clients want to feel like you understand their particular problem and can fix it. Potential clients should come to your website and find information focused on how you can help them.

LACK OF BASIC SEO

For a legal website to be effective, a firm must leverage at least some basic search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure the site shows up on Google and other search engines.

OTHER FACTORS

  • Poor imagery. Bad stock images can ruin an otherwise great website by making it look generic. Be sure to use quality photos, even if they happen to be stock photos.
  • No photos of the lawyer(s). Some websites do not feature headshots or photos on the attorney bio pages. This can prevent a visitor from feeling like they can “get to know” the lawyer. Photos are expected in 2019. Missing photos may make a visitor wonder what you might be hiding, while great bio photos make the user feel like they have actually met you.
  • Large blocks of text. Websites with long, dense paragraphs are difficult to read and so visitors are less likely to read them. Website copy should be concise and easy for the average person to digest.

These issues all prevent lawyers and law firms from getting the results they hope for from their websites. If your law firm website suffers from any of these problems, consider making some changes so that you can make the most of your investment.

Finding a creative website that is entirely unique and something that has never been seen before, is rare if not impossible. Typically a website will stand out from the crowd if it has a few compelling features, but upon examination they are not so much different than the less interesting sites. So how do you avoid the boring template look and achieve something interesting, creative, and memorable?

1: Be Inspired

Creativity is not magic or an inborn trait, it is borrowed brilliance. Hugh McLeod explains that “creative thought begins with copying, that you build new ideas out of existing ideas, and that originality is a perception and not a reality”. Great innovations happen by remixing (as suggested in this gorgeous video, Everything is a Remix); small improvements and changes to existing products and thoughts that morph into something better. Let’s be clear that I am not, under any circumstances, suggesting that you plagiarize other websites. However, understanding your competition, conducting research, and learning the fundamentals about the current market are critical first steps to standing out from that crowd with a creative website.

2: Be emotional

A well designed and creative website should grab attention by breaking through the clutter of all of the other websites that are indistinguishable. The first impression should also visually and emotionally communicate the relevant message. This is almost never accomplished with generic stock imagery. However, not all stock images are the same. The most compelling part of my most popular website is its use of inexpensive but stunning stock images that grab the viewer’s attention and connect with them emotionally.

3: Know Your Visitor’s Motivation

What is your unique selling point and the problem you can solve for your client? Know whom you are talking to, so you can send them the right message. You would not use the same imagery for a group of retirees as you would for a group of Silicon Valley investors. When your audience feels connected to you they will say things like you “totally get them”, that you “just clicked”, and you will know that your creative website has locked into their motivations.

4: Have A Clear Path

Once you have determined your main selling point, define a clear path for your visitors and make it easy for them to accomplish their goals. Ensure that your call to action grabs the attention of your potential customer and helps them to easily follow through your predetermined steps. Your call to action is typically a button (to indicate action), and should use a strong, contrasting color .

When developing your creative website, consider how your pages can be different than your competition’s. Using a few of these critical methods can help your message to stand out and your brand to be more memorable.

Article: Original Source

My article Using Client Lead Data to Develop New Legal Business was recently featured by Lawzam.

The point of your law firm’s marketing strategy is to drive new business. It’s why your legal practice commits dollars to websites, social media advertising, digital display ads, and more. You wouldn’t go to trial without doing research on existing case law. Don’t throw money into marketing schemes without first considering the data.

WHO IS YOUR MARKET?

This is the most important question to consider when marketing your legal practice. It is a waste of time, energy, and budget to chase after page views, likes, and clicks from people who are not in your target audience. If you are getting a lead every day from people in jail looking for a criminal defense attorney, but you practice real estate law, then your lead generation dollars are being wasted.

You don’t just need leads. You need leads for potential clients.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Has the sidebar gone the way of the Dodo bird? When the Internet first gained popularity in the 1990s, the website sidebar was an excellent way to capture readers’ attention, gather email addresses, and point them to a CTA. However, as websites and tastes have evolved, the sidebar is becoming more and more obsolete.

Should You Remove Your Website’s Sidebar?

MINIMALISM

The current trend towards minimalism means websites are becoming increasingly pared down. Users are demanding a more streamlined experience. To improve UX, designers are removing clutter.
The sidebar falls into the clutter category. Ask yourself, “Is there anything on my site’s sidebar that cannot be achieved in another way?” Is the information in the sidebar repeated on the top navigation? Or could you put the information in another spot?

The question when it comes to sidebars is not if they should be removed from every website. The most important question is, “Does this feature add value?”.

EFFECTIVENESS

If you steadfastly want to hold on to your sidebar, examine its effectiveness. Is it driving conversions, email signups, or other growth for your business? Is it user-friendly? Is your sidebar adding to your website instead of detracting?

The reality is that it might be negatively impacting your website and traffic. If your sidebar currently has a CTA, you may get better results by inserting the call to action in the text of your page instead.
Of course, different websites have different purposes. E-commerce sites commonly use sidebars to categorize products. Google’s sidebar uses widgets that are helpful and used across its different platforms. For these sites, sidebars help users navigate their content in a straightforward way.

However, your law firm’s website probably does not need a sidebar. If your aim is to inspire potential client’s to call your firm for services, they are neither buying a product online or using a web-based service, as in the case of e-commerce sites and Google.

Your CTA is straightforward, whatever way you word it: contact us for expert legal services. By removing the sidebar and inserting the CTA directly into the page, either mid-page or at the bottom, you could increase responses.

RESPONSIVENESS

All websites must be mobile responsive. In the early 2000s, responsive design was not an imperative and many clunky websites with features like sidebars and overwhelming ads were built. In the modern age of smart devices, responsiveness is no longer an added bonus. It is critical.

Sidebars inhibit responsiveness. They do not show up in mobile correctly and are usually redirected to the bottom of the page. This disrupts the design and misses the entire point of a sidebar. Without one, content can be moved around and the site’s width can be shrunk easily.

Another key factor to user experience is speed. Without a sidebar, your site will load faster. This can decrease bounce rates and keep users from leaving your site immediately — as often happens to sites that don’t load quickly enough.

OPTIONS

As website design has progressed, there are so many more options available for information on your site. The sidebar held the spot as the prime place to put extra information, drive people to sign up for newsletters, and blast your CTA.
This is no longer the case. There are so many options! If the content in your sidebar is essential to the site, and cannot be eliminated entirely (remember, minimalism), consider these other choices:

A sidebar is no longer needed to share additional information on your website. With the plethora of design options available, you can engage users without the outdated sidebar.
Sidebars had a heyday of popularity in the early 2000s. You’ll still see it commonly used on blogs and e-commerce sites. But your law firm’s website probably does not need one anymore. Getting rid of it is a chance to streamline your site and improve the user experience for potential clients.

You’ll notice that our website does not have a sidebar. They add to visual clutter and weaken the overall message of the page. We’ve found that people respond to straightforward CTA buttons rather than distractions on the side of the page.

Take a look at your firm’s website. Are you still using a sidebar? Is it adding value to the site? If not, it’s time to remove the dead weight. If you are truly worried about the effects of removing it on your site, you can try A/B testing to quantify your results before making it permanent.

One thing is clear. If your sidebar is distracting and unnecessary, kill it.

Article: Original Source