Website assessment and repair is one of my favorite tasks. Why? Because everything can be improved, and so many websites are designed for anything but forensic psychiatry and psychology. It’s a fun challenge and might be simple to fix.
In the olden days, sites were developed by hand using html, tailored to the small clunky computers we used then, and a very different “interweb.”
Those sites did not make the transition gracefully. That said, I am now seeing a trend that is…not so much disturbing as missing the boat.
Services like Wix and SquareSpace offer a snazzy new website they say can be built in an hour (common promise, never fulfilled).
The secret formula, they tell you, is to use their website template. You then see dozens (and dozens) of layouts and choose the one you like best. By you, I mean the forensic expert, or a friend or family member with tech skills, or your 3rd cousin that has a great Facebook page.
Here’s why you should pause before taking this step, or pause after having taken it:
1. Templates are designed with e-commerce in mind. They are image-heavy. You’re immediately hit with an enormous photo of something irrelevant–like a person in a yoga position, or a skyline. I took some screenshots of these templates from various services and, I kid you not, almost every single one had a template featuring someone in a yoga position. Attorneys are not looking for bold images unless the content is spot on. They’re looking for someone smart who knows what’s relevant in the case. Information, not yoga, is your stock-in-trade.
2. Website-building sites each have different benefits and I have yet to find one that has everything you need. I’ll not bore you with the ins-and-outs of website marketing. Trust me, though, you can’t have everything.
Common problems are inflexible templates–you can’t change picture sizes or boxes that hold text, you can’t move anything around. You’re beholden to the template. Or, the site looks great on a desktop and terrible on a phone. Designing around that is neither intuitive nor simple when your expertise is not website design.
3. Template websites are easiest to develop if you go with their stock photography. Everyone uses the photos. How often have you seen this or a riff on it?
4. You can’t compete if you’re one of a crowd. The templates are used by millions of businesses, and now you look just like them.
DIY website design is a trend. These services appeal to small business owners without much time or budget to develop a website, yet understand they must have one.
Marketing with a website is too important to mess up. It’s the most important place to convey your experience, expertise, and areas of knowledge to your potential client.
A website that doesn’t accomplish this will simply cause your clients to assume they’re in the wrong place (a yoga expert) and quickly leave to find someone else.