All day, every day, your professional website speaks for you. It talks to people who hear about you from satisfied clients, who find you through a search, and who click a link from some other site. When they arrive, they have already begun to evaluate you — not just your web skills, but your work ethic, your people skills, and how good you are at your job. It doesn’t matter that you just got your website set up in your spare time because you’re too busy doing great work for real clients. Web visitors assume that the site they find is a good indicator of who you are and what you’re capable of. Here are three of their top criteria:
1. Is There a Website?
Some professionals decide to forgo a website. Instead they opt for a Facebook page or Twitter feed. That may not be a temptation for you. Lawyers and medical professionals often default to professional and local directories. Social media and directories are fine things. It’s important to talk to your clients and prospects, and it’a important to be where people are looking for what you do. They can’t be the hub of your professional marketing. Centering your professional web presence on someone else’s site is like having your law office in a kiosk in a mall. It just looks transient and unprofessional. It also gives you no control over the rules, the presentation, or the longevity of your site. You need your own web real estate, where you can express who you are and give your clients and prospects a clear picture of what you can do. Having your own website also gives you more control over your clients’ information, for both professional and marketing purposes.
2. Design Counts
Watch a movie from a 20 or 30 years ago and notice how embarrassing fashion changes can be. Hairstyles that were a mark of sophistication and beauty now seem just funny. On the web, both the design and capabilities change even faster than hairstyles do in the real world. You don’t want your site to be the most avant-garde in web fashion, but you also don’t want it to look as if no one has updated it in the past five years. Your ideal clients are looking at your site, asking, “Is this person talking to me?” Your site’s design is a big part of the answer to that question.
3. It Matters How It Works
If a prospective client gets lost on the way to your office, can he or she look up a map quickly on your website using a smart phone? Can they easily get in touch with you with a basic question or to find out whether they have a case? Like everyone else, your clients and prospects are busy and on the move. They want transparency and personal contact. Great web content and functions can accommodate their needs, answering frequently asked question without requiring one-on-one exchanges for every question. Providing quick and simple avenues to basic answers is one way of building confidence in your competence.
Your Professional Website Testifies to Your Competence
People come to your site looking for answers to several specific questions:
- Who is this person?
- Do I like this person?
- Can I trust this person?
Your website is answering their questions all day, all the time, in both words and images, features and functions, and even in whether you’ve staked out a share of the web for yourself.