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Get Your Message Across with Interactive Content

Not so long ago, websites were completely static, and the best a visitor could expect from them was text with some simple graphics. But modern websites feature many types of interactive content that create an engaging and memorable experience. Not only can interaction convey information more effectively, it also does a better job of growing a business by converting leads into clients.

Interactive content is expected for some companies' websites, such as those of video game makers and other high-tech businesses, but it is still relatively uncommon on law firms' sites. Is that because law firms do not benefit from such content, or because they simply have not yet caught on to the trend?

Your site may already have some limited interaction features. For instance, visitors may be invited to fill out a simple contact form in order to receive a call back. Or readers of your blog may have the opportunity to comment on a post. Features such as these are useful but basic. A variety of more advanced interactive content is available and appropriate for the law firm that wants its website to stand out.

Quizzes can serve as a tool to educate the reader. A bankruptcy attorney's site could feature a quiz about bankruptcy law. It could be a true-or-false quiz with questions about the criteria for bankruptcy eligibility or dischargeable versus non-dischargeable types of debt. Or it could be a matching quiz in which the user tries to match each chapter of the bankruptcy code with its description.

An assessment is an interactive feature useful for business development. A bankruptcy attorney might have an assessment test for clients to get an idea of whether Chapter 7 liquidation or Chapter 13 reorganization is best for them. For other types of law, an assessment might help a prospective client to understand whether they have a case or whether they need to hire an attorney. In all cases, users can be gently guided toward providing contact information or, failing that, contacting the firm themselves. Disclaimers are necessary to clarify that assessment results do not constitute legal advice.

Polls and surveys are a valuable way to get to know the visitors to your site. Perhaps you have a blog that allows readers to comment on posts. Unless the topics or the writing itself is very provocative, you probably get very few comments. This does not mean that you are not getting readers and it does not mean the readers are not enjoying the content.

Readers simply tend not to comment in large numbers. But a quick poll or survey is likely to generate a much higher response rate. Participants understand that their time commitment is negligible, and they don't have to worry about expressing themselves articulately.

An estate attorney might survey readers on their concerns about retirement; an intellectual property attorney might ask readers whether they favor recent changes in patent law. People want not only to register their opinion, but to know how it compares to other opinions, and a brief poll is a compelling way to allow them to do both. It also allows you to know more about visitors to your site.

Even text can be upgraded to interactive content that engages the reader and helps keep information in context. For instance, consider a series of examples, illustrating a legal concept, that were originally presented as three paragraphs of text. These examples could be transformed into a series of slides which the user steps through with a click. This way, the subsequent examples are available to those who need them and hidden from those who don't. Moreover, the explanatory text that comes before the illustrating examples will stay on-screen even as the reader advances through the examples, easing the transition back and forth between explanation and example.

Another way in which text can be made interactive is the use of pop-ups. Every attorney knows that a glossary is sometimes necessary when explaining technicalities. But flipping back and forth between text and a glossary is not fast enough to be conducive to learning, especially when the text is electronic. An in-line glossary is far more convenient. A term that needs defining in your text content might be underlined in blue like a web link. Clicking on it could trigger a pop-up, in which the definition appears right next to the term. Similarly, pop-ups can be used to contain parenthetical text, such as technical or historical information, thus keeping it close at hand but out of the way.

Interactive content is a great way to educate the user and leave a lasting impression. But only recently has it grown quickly in popularity on websites across industries. This is because until recently, creating such content took many hours of work by highly skilled computer programmers. But thanks to a growing number of easy-to-use content creation tools, the same tasks can be accomplished in short order by people with little or no programming knowledge.

When searching for such tools and platforms, you may come across slick, all-in-one platforms that allow you to create a wide variety of content types. These are primarily useful for medium to large businesses that want to make a large commitment to interactive content marketing, as they often require a year-long contract and cost thousands of dollars. If you want to get your feet wet with interactive content, your best bet is to decide on a particular type of content you think will work with your practice and clientele and search for tools to make exactly that. These single-purpose tools will tend to be cheap or free for limited use.

As the technology matures, the content that end users can create will continue to improve in quality while requiring less effort. Now is the time to start looking for opportunities to add modest interactivity to your site with a small investment of time and money. Your visitors will recognize that your firm is ahead of the curve and your site will leave a great impression.

About Author

Ryan Conley is a staff contributor to Bigger Law Firm Magazine and a legal content strategist for U.S. based law firms.

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