I see so many programs on “How to launch a perfect website.” Well, let me tell you my truth: My website redesign process was less than perfect, and Robert Algeri and I are talking about doing a program about the truths behind a law firm website roll out.
But we launched our website on Monday, and, I can honestly say, the website came out perfect. It speaks to our brand, our history, and our future. And isn’t that the goal when branding, to actually reflect the culture of the entity/product/service?
Welcome to the New GreenbergGlusker.com:
It’s a big difference from our old site.
Some thinking behind the design
We needed a logo that was fresh, clean, and could be used in a social environment. As we were thinking about our future, we had designs that moved us away from the “Goosh” (that’s what we call our stylized “G”). However, we found out quickly that the Goosh has become part of the firm’s identity internally, so we went back and redesigned the logo to incorporate it.
We create a lot of media content. There are weeks where our attorneys will be featured in 10 or more stories. I needed to be able to feature press and media content, as well as events. Both the home page and the footer allow us to control the featured content.
I needed responsive. Our stats show us that our website viewers are 50% mobile, so we needed something that was going to really function well across both types of platforms. The look and feel of the mobile site was as important as the desktop site.
Our firm caters to both individuals via our Entertainment and Private Client Services practices, but also corporations via Real Estate, Employment Law, Environment, and Corporate. Our Litigation practice is also quite diverse. Add in the creativity of our Digital Media & Technology Group, well, we needed a platform that we could customize for each demographic, but remain true to the brand. This drove our technology provider decision. Great Jakes‘ ability to create “micro-sites” around the bios and practice groups is giving us the flexibility to customize those pages to reflect the individual and practice needs. Lawyers are visual people, so now that the website is launched they’re understanding why we’ve been scheduling one-on-one meetings to go over their bios, the widgets, and how we can create a profile unique to them and their practice. The ease of the back end allows us to quickly create those custom features.
Leading up to the launch
The last few months leading up to the launch were hell. We (Gerson Ramos, mainly) were working tirelessly to get the content transferred, to update bios and practice descriptions, write new content for sections that did not exist before, and get all photos updates.
Since we were coupling this with a new brand, there was letterhead and business cards to order, and a gift closet to fill (which was a lot of fun).
I have to admit that our launch date, “sometime around the end of May,” seemed really far away on January 2, but it did come up on us quickly. Sure I could have used another week or two, and yeah, I’m still working on a couple enhancements, but nothing that needed to hold up the launch.
There were times that I had to set this project down and move onto something else. We’re a small team, so I don’t have a dedicated person to manage the project. And you need to account for that in your timing and for managing expectations.
What did I learn?
In the end, what I am really taking away is:
- Our brand truly peculated up in the process. I did not need to force it or formalize it.
- The more I try to control, the less control I have.
- Understanding my firm’s decision making process is key to pushing a project like this through.
- Be willing to let go. In the end, the website is not a reflection of “me,” but of the firm.
What I mean by that last point is that while I would have personally taken a lot more risks, left turns, and punched our way out of the box … that’s me. I am off-the-charts when it comes to comfort with conflict. You know who isn’t? A lawyer. And I work with about 95 of them.
This project was a great reminder to me of the differences in our personalities, which is a good thing … you need someone like me, willing to push the envelope, in the role of CMO. Otherwise, a firm will never be able to compete in our current business environment which is evolving as I type. But I also need the temperance of the attorneys, because our industry as a whole is very risk adverse, and I need to take that into consideration in everything that I do.
To put it succinctly: the absolute hardest part of this project was managing me and my expectations.
Now that we’re launched, and I am taking a couple days off to celebrate my daughter’s graduation from high school, I suppose my greatest pieces of advice are to be nimble, be prepared, have a good attitude, go with the flow, let go, and know in the end, after the launch has taken place, everyone will go back to business as usual, and you will move on to your next project. Which for me will be relaunching the firm’s awesomely named blog, helping with the Chrome River roll-out (you do know it can sync with Interaction Activities, right?), and onto creating an experience database in 2019.
I need to thank my internal team of Gerson Ramos and Brandi Franzman. My champion in the office, Ken Fields. My branding and design team at Glyphix. Our website technology team at Great Jakes. Raffi Alexander for our portraits, and the cool drone shots over Century City. Jayne Navarre for content. And Cheryl Bame for always, always, always being my trusted advisor.