Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
September/October 2003, by Delia Venables

Four Major Firms Relaunch their Websites
Brief reports by Delia Venables

  • Hammonds relaunched on 31st July. This is a large and attractive site, built to provide in-depth information on Hammonds' 15 offices in 7 countries. The site has been constructed by web developers ActiveLawyer with an underlying Content Management System which means that content relating, say, to areas of work and associated partners can appear under the appropriate offices, without having to be rekeyed for each place that the information is to appear. Indeed, navigation is remarkably easy given that it is such a large site and there seem to be quite a number of intuitive ways to reach any particular part of the information provided. There is a process lying behind the site by which relevant personnel can input material without technical knowledge and can keep the site looking up to date. The style and "branding" is preset with white areas for text and other blocked areas in interesting shades of purple and gray. There are also good pictures of people and places which give life to the text.

  • Leigh Day & Co. relaunched on 24th July. This is also an attractive site with blocks of green and white and quite a few photos to accompany the news items and information provided. The design and content management system have been provided by abacus e-media. The firm provides a relatively narrow range of services, all in the personal injury and clinical negligence area, and so the site is able to be very focussed on these areas. There is a considerable amount of information about different types of accident and how claims can be made, aimed at the individual viewer. The opening page is slow to load for viewers using a dial-up connection since it has a very large set of revolving photographs which is a pity for a site aiming at individuals rather than corporates. (This may be corrected soon).

  • Faegre Benson Hobson Audley have a new site after the recent merger of the UK firm Hobson Audley with US firm Faegre & Benson. The site is light and bright with deep red and black "branding" on a white background and is easy to read and navigate. It also loads reasonably quickly. The central part of the site is devoted to Current UK Legal Developments (especially written by members of the firm - not "bought in"). An unusual feature of the site is the "Customise this page" option whereby you can choose your areas of interest and the lawyers you are working with, and the page immediately adjusts accordingly. This is obviously designed to keep commercial clients coming back to the site. There is also news from the firm (separated from "legal news" - which is not always the case on firms' sites), legal seminars, and a positive approach to the firms in the USA, Frankfurt and Shanghai. My only hesitation is on the lack of visual interest - obviously a perennial problem with "serious" legal firms. Both the UK and the US sites were designed by a US company called Designstein.

  • Winward Fearon relaunched in May. This is an attractive site with a white central area for the text and a blue surround. Other colours are picked out in small quantities. The site opens with "Choose a Department" on one side and "choose a subject" on the other, allowing the material to be reached from more than one approach. A new content management system makes this possible, as well as ensuring that the site will be constantly kept up-to-date with the latest articles, newsletters and seminar notes that the firm produces. It also means that the site can be updated "in house". A feature of the old site was an extensive set of links to bodies in the general construction and commercial property area, and this feature has been recreated in the new site. The site was designed and constructed by the consulting arm of RichTextBox.com, a provider of content management software for the Microsoft ASP.NET platform.

    Would you like your site to be included in a future report?

    If so, please contact me delia@venables.co.uk.

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