Two Simple “Rules” for Impressive Website HomepagesBy Joe Walsh
September 30, 2015
By now, we hope you've heard about and spent some time with our new catalog and review of the websites of the 200 largest professional service firms. The idea for site visitsSM is to share what others are up to with their websites so can get ideas for improving your own.
For each of the 200 websites we looked at the homepage, a major service area or industry page, a professional biography and the firm’s central repository of publications, or other thought leadership. We also checked to see whether the site is mobile friendly.
Today, we'll explain two important elements of our criteria for great homepages.
First. Strong homepages deliver a clear promise of value. Some call this a tagline, others an organizing theme. Tomato, Tomahhto. Interestingly, 66% of accounting firm sites have adopted an obvious tagline to clarify their brand position, while only 16% of law and consulting firms do the same.
With or without a tagline, the best sites position the firm as important, confident and a leader. Visitors determine their impression of the quality of a firm and brand within .05 seconds on the web (The New York Times). So, this is the time to look the part of a leader and focus as much on why clients should work with you as what you do. There’s plenty of room inside the site to communicate areas of expertise once you stand and declare your proposition. Take the Manhattan-based Freidman CPAs, for example. Friedman communicates that it has powerful skills (found in the largest of CPA firms) but a service style that is intensely personal. There is no mistaking the message. Others also impress with strong, differentiating positions. EY is great example, as are the homepages for Booz Allen in consulting and Polsinelli in law.
Second. Strong homepages focus on the client. It seems rudimentary, but the best marketing is about the client. And so are the best websites. Too many sites are "about us" featuring: our news, our accomplishments, our publications. This approach reminds us of a self-centered Bette Midler character in the film Beaches. She asks a bored date: "But enough about me, let's talk about you. What do you think of me?" Smart firms do the opposite of this. Examples, among others, include the law firm Simpson & Thatcher and the CPA firm Warren Averett. Simpson begins with a refreshing question, "How can we help?" Warren Averett articulates that they help clients take care of things that are really important to the client. Their promise is to help clients thrive.
In our next post, we'll look at ideas and insights connecting to standout through leadership or resource centers. Can't wait for that post? Preview what we'll have to say here.