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Is Your Website Developer a Capt. Kirk or Mr. Spock?

There are four critical steps to overhauling your website:

  1. Strategy and messaging

  2. Design

  3. Coding

  4. Maintenance

That is, first conceive the brand message.  That's the winning strategy, the competitive advantage that can lead to increased revenue and profitability. That's what turns a new website into a weapon, rather than an online brochure.

Then turn that message and the supporting visuals into an attractive, professional, user-friendly and responsive design. Then code the site using the latest features, and then ensure that it stays secure and up to date. A simple, efficient process.

In website-overhaul RFPs, we typically compete against any number of "the usual suspects," i.e. well-known companies that create attractive, nicely functioning sites.  We’re in a competition now, for a law firm that claims to want to “demonstrate leadership” and “enhance [their] image and visibility.”

We often struggle to explain the difference between Strategy and Design, i.e. between "effective" and "attractive."  Few lawyers have the marketing education to know the difference between (1) a plan designed to increase revenue, and (2) pretty pictures and an attractive layout.

90% of website companies offer "pretty," not "strategic."

Why? Because most website companies are run by techies.

To use an old TV analogy, in Star Trek, it was Captain Kirk’s job to “boldly go where no one has gone before." That’s strategyThen it was Mr. Spock’s job to ensure that all the technical minutiae were under control, that all the I's get dotted and the T's get crossed. Then Scotty, the engineer, ensured that the equipment was up to the task. Dr. "Bones" McCoy kept everyone healthy.

That's a useful metaphor for a strategic website overhaul.

To continue the metaphor:

Spock is the web designer. He creates a safe, bland, but workable design.

Scotty is in charge of the technology. He codes the site, ensuring all the links work.

Bones is in charge of maintenance. He keeps it healthy with ongoing updates.

The result is a website designed by a scientist.  A nice, logical online-brochure, that looks just like all of your competitors.

But there's no story. It's benign and innocuous, not memorable.

Why? Because 9 out of 10 web firms have no Capt. Kirk!

There’s no daring vision designed to advance the ball. It's safe, bland, and non-differentiated.  No message that shows how you're a better option, how you're leaders. Nothing that helps viewers select your firm over the other look-alike players in your market.  If you are willing to accept a math problem instead of a bold vision, then hire the cheapest company and buy a template.  If your expectations are low enough, anyone can achieve them.

If your strategic plan is "Stay precisely where we are now," then save your money.

If your goal is to “make your tired old website less embarrassing” then any Spock can accomplish that goal just fine -- and the industry is bloated with Spocks.

If you want to lead, to “take your firm to the next level,” then you need a Capt. Kirk.

There aren't many Kirks in the website industry, which makes them easy to spot.  If it's not obvious who the Kirk is on your website-overhaul team, then you ain't got one. Nine out of ten times, you won't.

A website overhaul is one of a firm's rare opportunities to "go boldly."

Do you want to make more money next year?

Do you want to become leaders in your market?

Think Trek. Not tech.

© 2020 Fishman MarketingNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 170


About this Author

Ross Fishman legal marketing expert  Fishman Marketing

Fishman Marketing develops the legal profession's most-effective brands and websites. Called “one of the leading experts on law firm marketing” by Lawyers Weekly, Ross helps firms dominate their markets and generate revenue. FM has designed 200+ marketing campaigns and taught 10,000 lawyers worldwide how to generate new business.

A former litigator and...