If you have a law practice and an email or telephone, you've undoubtedly already been solicited for a mobile website on an almost daily basis for the last year. I have spent that same time advising my clients that it's not really necessary or worth it to maintain two individual websites. Now, with responsive design, you can have the best of both worlds; you can ensure that your mobile and tablet visitors have a good user experience while still only having to maintain one site.
For a long time, the approach for mobile design was to redirect users to a separate mobile version of the site (like m.website.com). There are a lot of companies that sell these types of sites. Many of them even host them, which at first blush may seem like the easy way to do it. However, this requires maintaining two individual sites, which can quickly become cumbersome, and can also be problematic for Google.
While there is an explosion in traffic on mobile devices, and every indicator suggests it will continue to to climb, the solution is not to have an individual mobile site. You can't ignore the mobile web, but our goals are still fundamentally the same; get our message in front of people, and get them to make contact. Responsive design accomplishes this by having one website that looks great on a computer, tablet or phone. We don't need to push anyone to download an app, or jump into a Twitter feed. It's the same recipe as it's always been: pleasing design that's easy to use displaying informative content that encourages contact.
There was a time when I shrugged off mobile websites for attorneys thinking they were better suited for restaurants and movie theatres. I have always said that if you build a site correctly it will show up on a mobile device just fine, and that is still true. That said, there is a need for privacy in many areas of law, which is the number one reason to pay attention to mobile design. If your potential client is researching a divorce, trying to get out of a DWI, or trying to understand their options for debt relief under bankruptcy, they may not want to do so on their work computer, or on a computer they share with their spouse.
Mobile is important because it's the device most likely to be used when someone is searching for something private.
As responsive design becomes more and more prevalent, your website visitors are going to expect it more and more. Your next website design should take all screen sizes into consideration and make sure that they make the most important information on your website easy to find and easy to read.
I believe to effectively market a law firm on the mobile web, you simply make sure that the site looks nice on a mobile device or tablet. However, it seems like the hottest trend in new products to sell to small business continues to be wrapped up in mobile marketing. The fact is, there are a lot of really amazing things that our mobile devices can do. Movie theatres and restaurants know that there are tons of opportunities to provide a unique experience when users access their site with a mobile device. Q-codes in a menu can open videos of a chef talking about the item. Showtimes can be displayed with a link out to one of the ticket buying sites, allowing users skip lines or buy their tickets before the show is sold out. These are really neat things, but they have NOTHING to do with legal marketing.
The point to all of this is to be careful who you talk to and purchase a mobile site from, as there are lots of fancy technologies that have no real utility for lawyers or their clients. Make sure that with mobile design, like any marketing technique, you're carefully thinking through your potential clients' information gathering and buying experience.
Do you have questions about how your website should look on a mobile device? Are you paying monthly for a website that shows up the same on a computer as it does on a mobile device?
If you have questions about mobile websites, responsive design, or online marketing in general, please call me at 651.271.8845 or contact me through the web.