Consulting Websites Are Among the Best in Professional Services Category.By Joe Walsh
September 24, 2015
Our site visitsSM catalog and review of the websites of the 200 largest professional services firms reveals trends and best practices among top consulting firm web designs and content.
There are exceptions to every rule, but in the round the consulting firm sites are the most digitally savvy, client-centric, and generally impressive. They are followed by law firm sites with accounting firm sector sites trailing their peers in web innovation.
1. A thought leadership arms race is in full force.
It wasn’t called thought leadership when McKinsey Quarterly was first published in the 60s (ironically, to combat the commodization of strategy consulting). But ever since it has been a consulting marketing staple. Now, in an age when content has been declared king, firms of all sizes are heavily invested in more content marketing, risking commoditization. We wonder if clients are overwhelmed by the volumes of leading thoughts? With so many insights being published or otherwise shared, how do you get yours the attention you seek? By the way, nearly half of the firm sites reviewed file thought leadership under “insights.” That’s a lot of insights. The race is on. McKinsey continues to lead, but others have shining sites as well.
2. Engaging content is the next frontier.
In 1971, the Nobel-winning political scientist and economist Herbert Simon addressed the new realities of an information rich world. He said “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” On the sites reviewed, information abounds, but the new responsibility is making it memorable. This amounts to opportunity for those who dare to be different and better in earning attention for their messages and content in a world of too much information. EY has made a bold departure in this area with its EY films, among other building a better working world initiatives.
3. Inspiration is often found outside the field.
Some of the “consulting firm” firm sites we like best are from firms that do more than consulting. That is, they are large enterprises with products to sell. This often means their sites often have the energy, power of engagement and clear brand promises found in the B2C markets. Infosys is one example. We encourage all to continue to look for digital inspiration outside their own field.
4. Consultants, wisely, rely on fewer words.
In business and elsewhere we no longer have readers, we have scanners. Sites are quickly adopting charts, graphs, images, tables, maps, videos and other tools to share substantive information graphically. The best consulting sites have moved from text heavy reading experience to visually balanced experiences relying on non verbal clues. When words are used they are purposeful and, thankfully, brief. Accenture's new site is a compelling example of this approach, it is also a clever design that leverages the firms logo as an information organization tool.
5. Good storytelling is trumping typical case studies.
You know the case study formula: problem/situation, then approach/solution followed by outcome/results. Each with a tidy paragraphy of clinical copy. What we advocate are case studies that excel at story telling and tap into emotions, just like the very best journalism. We imagine a future of case studies in video or print that have Madison Avenue quality emotional resonance. And we imagine the consulting firms will be the first to realize this opportunity.
6. Video is killing the radio star.
The lion’s share of the consulting firm sites reviewed use video for multiple purposes like sharing points of view, profiling experts, explaining a firm’s purpose and more. However, many online videos play like feature length documentaries, minus Ken Burns' gift for the craft. Our rough rule: Five minutes of online video is probably four minutes too long.
7. Responsive sites are on the rise, thankfully.
We’re very pleased to see many firms investing in responsive web site redesign and development that allows the sites to render effectively on any device. Same for mobile optimized sites that amount to a mobile friendly alternative to the main site, just slightly different. But more than half of sites reviewed ignore mobile. This is not a good thing given mobile rapid growth. Cognizant is one example or the responsive design trend driving most of the newly developed and designed professional service firm sites.
8. Sites are more about clients, than the firm.
As you cruise the consulting firms sites the words “we” “us” “our” and “the firm” appear far less frequently than on law firm sites, for example. Here’s a practical tip, go to any of your pages and count the number of times the words above are used. If they outweigh the number of times clients or client issues are mentioned, rethink the copy.