Part 2, How Your Web site Can Make You Look Like a Buffoon Lawyer Without Really Trying

This is the second in our 5 part series. last time we talked about how some web sites make it hard to contact you (to read the first installment on Rule #1, click here).

Since then, coincidentally, I was in Novi, Michigan on a trip and needed to contact a lawyer who had just entered a case so I searched and found their web site and started looking for a phone number. Not on the front page, which is where I thought it would be. Not on this page. Not on that page. So I looked for the "contact us" link, clicked, and there it was finally.

Now it may seem obvious that the phone number would be on the contact us page, but to the average consumer looking for an attorney's help, if your phone number isn't right out in the open on every page, if it takes several clicks to find your phone number, then you are just putting roadblocks between you and that prospective client. Why do you want to do that? Consumers don't want to waste time looking for something they can't easily find.

I noticed something else about that website too. It violated rule #2, Stay Above the Fold. The front page just went on and on and on, scrolling down for what seemed like forever.

When you look at a newspaper you can see that the headline is at the top and grabs your attention. When you unfold the paper you see the rest of the front page. The top half is called "above the fold" and the bottom half of the page is what's called "below the fold" in the newspaper business.

Well, your website page has a "fold" too. Above the fold is whatever shows up on the screen when your web page loads. The stuff you have to scroll down to read? That's all "below the fold" and that's where your problem is.

Your important contact info, name, phone number, maybe your location or logo - the important info about you should NOT be below the fold for one simple reason.

You've got "15 and 2" to sell yourself to that surfing potential client. In other words, after landing on your web site, that prospective client will likely spend no more than 15 seconds and 2 mouse clicks, max, to decide if you are what they are looking for. They may not bother to scroll all the way to the bottom of the web page to find your phone number - if it's there at all. And they certainly won't click around in search of it either - or anything else they are looking for.

If you put any important info (like your phone number) below the fold, and your web site visitor doesn't take the time to scroll down to find it, they won't call you at all.

Now, we aren't saying don't go below the fold with more info at all. Indeed, there's a lot of value in having content that is complete, whether it goes below the fold or not. Just be careful what you put where on your web pages.

Below the fold is where lawyers and law firms often put their normal "business" type links, such as About Us, Site Map (you do have one, don't you?), Terms of Use, etc. And that reminds me of Rule #3, but we'll get to that next time.

For now, make sure your most important info on your web site pages is above the fold where your visitors can find it and read it quickly and easily.