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Web site renovations: a cost-effective tool for tough times.

There comes a point in the life cycle of every Web site when it

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begins to feel dated. Design elements that were once cutting-edge now

seem trite. The text no longer hits the mark. The site no longer works

the way you want.

Does this mean that you need an entirely new Web site?

Perhaps. However, there often is a viable alternative: a

renovation. Think of a Web site renovation as a tune-up that will help

make your current site become a more effective business-development

tool. A renovation preserves what is good about your existing site–and

then improves areas that are falling short. You’d be surprised what

a few nips and a tuck can do.

A Web site renovation often includes one or more of the following:

# Homepage Redesign: The homepage is often the focus of a

renovation, and rightly so. Studies show that visitors will judge your

company within 50 milliseconds of arriving at your homepage. A firm with

an outdated Web site runs the risk of appearing hopelessly out of touch.

Typical homepage design improvements include: adding larger and

more striking photos, rewriting the headline and text, tightening the

layout and adding subtle Flash motion graphics.

# Messaging Improvements: Oftentimes, a Web site’s design is

good–the messaging just needs to be updated or improved in a few areas.

Most messaging improvements are made to reflect new services, changing

market conditions or an evolving firm.

# New Pages and Sections: As a firm grows, its Web site may need to

expand to include new practice areas, an improved careers section, new

client case studies and, of course, additional attorney profiles.

# Streamlining Navigation: Sometimes, rearranging where pages are

found on your Web site can make all of the difference. Slight changes

can allow users to more easily find the information they are looking

for, while driving them to the articles, case studies or biographies

that best make the case for your firm.

# Functionality Enhancements: It’s likely that since your Web

site was originally built, technology has evolved and user expectations

are now greater. The good news is that adding new functionality is

possible. Technical enhancements can include a content management

system, an event registration system, video and blogs. More

sophisticated enhancements can marry the firm’s CRM with the Web

site and search engine optimization.

In many cases, there are compelling reasons to choose a Web site

renovation over a full redesign. For example:

# Speed: Renovations can happen much faster than redesigning a Web

site from scratch. Think weeks for the entire job, not months.

# Less Bureaucracy: Unlike a full redesign, a Web site renovation

can often fly under the radar. Renovations may be subtle enough to avoid

the scrutiny of the firm’s entire marketing committee, and thus can

be completed much more quickly.

# Cost Savings: Renovation often costs 50 percent to 80 percent

less than a full redesign.

# Faster ROI: In these tough economic times, everybody is focusing

on return on investment. Within weeks, a Web site renovation will be

able to assist you in developing new clients.

Not every Web site is an appropriate candidate for a Web site

renovation. Some Web sites don’t have a suitable foundation to

support a renovation. For example, if you think that it may be necessary

to “gut” the majority of your existing Web site in order to

achieve your business goals, a renovation is probably not right for your

firm.

However, most law firm Web sites have a solid foundation and

include elements that can be preserved. A carefully planned renovation

can transform such a site into a reinvigorated, highly effective

business-development tool that radiates energy and offers renewed value.

Robert Algeri is a partner at Great Jakes Marketing Co., which

writes marketing plans, creates marketing materials and crafts search

engine marketing strategies. He can be reached at ralgeri@greatjakes.com

or 212/699-3684.

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