A new white paper identifies the following AmLaw 100 law firms as having the best Web sites:
- Baker & Hostetler LLP -- www.bakerlaw.com
- Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP -- www.wilmerhale.com
- Jones Day LLP -- www.jonesday.com
- Andrews Kurth LLP -- www.andrewskurth.com
- Hogan & Hartson LLP -- www.hhlaw.com
- Foley & Lardner LLP -- www.foley.com
- Dorsey & Whitney LLP -- www.dorsey.com
- Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC -- www.mintzlevin.com
- Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP -- www.eapdlaw.com
- Shearman & Sterling LLP -- www.shearman.com
These firms had the highest scores for using the "Ten Foundational Best Practices" according to the September 2006 white paper "AmLaw 100 Web Sites 2006" published by Deborah McMurray. You can get a copy for yourself at http://www.contentpilot.net/deborahmcmurray/amlaw2006/default.aspx?refid=LB.
"These are the top 10 rated firms for the 2006 AmLaw 100 Web Sites, according to our Ten Foundational Best Practices analysis. These sites are well-worth visitors' time and attention. Congratulations to these firms--they will be rewarded with visitor loyalty," said author McMurray of Dallas, TX, who is CEO and Strategy Architect for Content Pilot LLC.
I've read the 64-page report and Deb's methodology is sound and her research is accurate. It's a pleasure to have a respected voice saying that the 10 best practices that law firms should use are:
- COMMUNICATING YOUR MESSAGE. How well are firms communicating strategy, strengths and geographic reach?
- GRAPHICS AND DESIGN. This isn't about branding or the attractiveness of the design--that's too subjective. This is about consistency, simplicity of communication, minimal distractions, information hierarchy, browser compatibility and so on.
- NAVIGATION. Are the sites easy to navigate on the home page and inside? Is the navigation protocol consistent from section to section? Are there several ways to get around the sites? Is the information one to two clicks from anywhere in the site?
- NARRATIVE CONTENT. This section takes a broad look at all narrative content on the site. Is the language visitor- and client-focused? Is the content organized intuitively? What about spelling and grammar?
- LAWYER BIOGRAPHIES. How well do the bios communicate the lawyers' strengths? Are they consistent one to another and are they current? Can a visitor get more information easily? Are the photos current?
- PRACTICE/INDUSTRY DESCRIPTIONS. Practice and industry descriptions should answer the questions: a) What have you done, b) for whom have you done it, and c) what can you do for me? Do they include specifics and case studies?
- CONTACT INFORMATION. Visitors should be able to access complete contact information for every firm office in one click from the home page, and have contact information for key individuals in each office.
- SITE SEARCH. How easy is it to search the site? How comprehensive are a) the lawyer search, b) articles/publications searches and c) the advanced search?
- SITE OPTIMIZATION FOR ONLINE SEARCH. Have the firms taken the basic steps necessary to maximize their chances of being found by the most popular search engines? Are the site maps current? How do the sites fare in terms of online awareness?
- SITE "HYGIENE." Firms may do well with strategy or design, but if links are broken, the site is down or it isn't easy to access using up-and-comer browsers, visitors will get annoyed and not return. In Web site design and maintenance, the little details are as important as the big picture issues.