Extreme Web Makeover: Solutions Through Mediation

Attorney Marcia Tannenbaum was ready for a change. Specializing in family law for more than 20 years, with an emphasis on mediation and collaborative practice, Marcia had a website that served its basic purpose as an Internet calling card. But the site didn’t do justice to her depth of experience and passion for her work.

When we started working together to update her brand and website, we identified a number of issues with her current site that are common stumbling blocks for solo professionals:

  • Although the site covered all the basic information about Marcia and her practice, the homepage was cluttered, difficult to skim, without a clear call-to-action.
  • The tone of the site captured some of Marcia’s personality, but none of her deep concern for her clients. Nothing in the content conveyed what sets her apart from other family law attorneys who promote mediation and collaborative law.
  • Content about her professional service lacked detail that anticipated client needs or questions. Copy was written more from a lawyer’s perspective than from a prospective client’s.
  • Information about Marcia’s professional background and experience was limited to a downloadable PDF of her resume and a link to a dated newspaper profile.
  • Visually, the site looked home-grown. Her logo was a set of colorful puzzle pieces tied to a basic type treatment of the name of her practice, Solutions Through Mediation. This plus the jumbled site layout undercut the professional image that Marcia needed to project.

Defining Marcia’s Ideal Client and Unique Selling Proposition
Our first step was to talk at length, in great detail, about the kinds of people that Marcia serves through her practice. While she works with a wide range of individuals, the people she most hopes to work with are those who are willing to participate in respectful conflict resolution.

I listened carefully to how Marcia described her work so that I could capture her voice and deep commitment to peaceful means of settling family disputes. I wanted any copy I developed to reflect Marcia’s personality and passion for mediation and collaborative practice, as well as her extensive experience, since these are what set her apart.

Developing Client-friendly Content
As we worked on content for the website, I always kept the client front and center in my mind. I maintained a personal but professional tone for the copy, writing in the second person (you) to speak directly to someone who would be considering Marcia’s services.

We used easy-to-follow architecture for the site, with tabs for Home, About, Professional Services, FAQs, Testimonials, Resources and a Contact form. At the same time, each page of the site includes a right-hand column with links to all of Marcia’s areas of practice, so that the visitor can quickly see her range of services and link to them from anywhere in the site.

While the homepage and personal statement on the About page set the tone for the site and clearly define Marcia’s approach to her practice, the FAQs section further establishes both Marcia’s authority and compassion with thoughtful answers to questions about divorce in Massachusetts, such as “Am I going to lose my kids?” and “What happens to our house?” We spent a lot of time working through these questions and answers, both to ensure accuracy and to make the content accessible.

The Resources page provides some useful information for potential clients, ranging from links to a full set of Massachusetts Law Library legal forms to Marcia’s list of recommended books. We collected testimonials (using only source initials to maintain confidentiality) from former clients that provided thoughtful, personal confirmation of Marcia’s expertise.

On every page, at the top of the right column, there is a link to the Contact form, the site’s call-to-action, encouraging potential clients to arrange for a free half-hour consult. We also included a blog, as Marcia looks forward to writing on a variety of topics of interest to potential clients. As she adds new posts, she enhances her chances of being found online.

Optimizing Search and Building Brand Equity
Marcia’s original url, www.solthrumed.com, ranked well when someone searched for her name online. But the url was confusing as an abbreviation of her practice’s full name and could be misread as some kind of health care practice. So we changed her web address to www.solutionsthroughmediation.com, and pointed the former url to the new one so that she won’t lose any traffic.

I conducted a keyword search for her areas of practice, and together we ranked her keywords for relevance to her practice. I created branded urls for each page in her site, incorporating keywords that would help bring traffic, particularly for individuals searching for a divorce lawyer in Central Massachusetts, where Marcia maintains her practice. Relevant keywords are also used in subheads and content throughout the site.

Marcia’s site has inbound links from her listings on professional legal organization websites that also enhance site rankings.

Creating a Professional Visual Image
With the content created, my next step was to create a professional visual presentation for Marcia. Working with graphic designer Liz Rosen, we updated her logo and type treatment for her practice, then based color choices for the website on those in the logo. Liz also created matching business cards and letterhead, to carry the new visual identity through all of Marcia’s communications.

For the website design, we reviewed various free WordPress themes (a favored platform for Google searches) and chose two to combine and modify for her site. I sifted through thousands of royalty-free images to select the ones that top each page—our goal was to present families of varied ethnicity involved in different stages of conflict and resolution to illustrate Marcia’s practice and make an emotional connection for potential clients.

I organized text with clear subheads to make it easy to skim. The FAQ section uses an accordion display so as not to bog down the page in too much copy. Live links follow a standard color scheme throughout the site, so they are readily identified.

Ed Booth of Insight Dezign programmed the site and followed all of my detailed instructions to a T.

Feedback on the site, which went live last week, has been very positive. My favorite comment, which Marcia shared with me, was that the site is very professional, “with a lot of heart.” That’s exactly the tone I aimed for, and we are now looking forward to Marcia expanding her practice through her new site, blogs and social media.

One Response to “Extreme Web Makeover: Solutions Through Mediation”

  1. […] direction from Herwitz Associates, Insight Dezign was able to modify colors, images and text layout to meet project specific […]

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