Does this sound familiar? “Make sure my website content makes me sound important to potential clients.” How about this? “I want my site to look like this other firm’s site.” Or what about this? “People need to know that we’re a serious law firm.”

Every day, attorneys across the country give these kinds of directions to their website development teams. Unfortunately, the ideas all stem from the same flawed premise: Website visitors make logical decisions about which law firms to contact.

The reality is that most users make decisions based on more emotional motivators such as their desire for safety, fear of losing something they value and a sense that they can trust you.

The most important thing your website development team should focus on is conversion optimization. What does that mean? In short, it is building techniques to motivate site visitors to actually contact your firm. Those techniques need to be based on a solid understanding of how human beings make decisions.

Although we all like to think we make decisions based on logic, most of our decisions stem from much more basic motivators. Of course logic plays a role, but that role is often to rationalize an emotional decision that a website visitor has already made. With that in mind, we encourage you ask yourself and your website development team these questions:

  1. How does your website address the real risks that potential clients are facing (and feeling)? Or does it appeal only to logical concerns?
  2. Do the images and content on your site send social and emotional signals that you are trustworthy? Or does it rely exclusively on evidence and rational arguments such as your experience and accolades?
  3. And most importantly, who is your website really designed for? You or your potential clients? Too often we see websites that are designed with the attorney’s ego in mind rather than the needs of prospective clients.

The answers to the above can give you a solid place to start the conversion optimization process. If you want to learn more about how people make decisions – particularly the decision to contact your law firm – please download the latest FindLaw white paper, which can be found here.

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Mark Jacobsen is senior director of Strategic Development and Thought Leadership at FindLaw.