Last night, the website and online services consultancy Intendance held its annual awards at Quadrant Chambers in London. Guest of honour, Cherie Booth QC, presented the overall winner Allen & Overy with their award. The picture shows James Tuke of Intendance (l) with Cherie Booth and Christian Walsh of A&O (r). The event coincided with the publication of the latest Intendance Fast 50 survey, which subjects the websites of Britain’s 50 most successful law firms to rigorous scrutiny in four categories – Content, Design, Usability and Marketing.

Allen & Overy were the overall winners, and the winners in the design category. The most improved law firm website is from Withers. The firm was among the last five in 2007, but has moved up to be 13th overall this year.
 

The Category Winners
 
Content: Freeth Cartwright won this category on the back of their comprehensive and sophisticated range of quality content and its client-orientated nature, from online services to cutting-edge blogs    
 
Usability: Mishcon de Reya came out top here through their simple yet functional site. Cross-referencing is particularly impressive, with users being able to access many different types of information from one page
 
Design: Allen & Overy won impressively due to a website that manages to be inviting, subtle and professional. Effective use of colour, font sizes and shading breaks the monotony of text-heavy pages, making content easier to assimilate
 
Marketing: Nabarro were the clear winners in this category thanks to their strong branding, which was communicated clearly and cleverly throughout the site  

The Losers
 
The five losers were Shoosmiths, Macfarlanes, Howard Kennedy, TLT Solicitors and Fladgate Fielder – none of them reaching more than 50% overall in the survey. All of them perform particularly poorly in the Design and Marketing categories. The first four were also in the bottom half in last year’s survey.
 
“By its very nature, the online world is quick to evolve”, says James Tuke, head of Intendance Research. “The survey shows how law firms are striving to keep up with the changes inherent in Web 2.0, and how new technology can help them combine offline and online strategy. For instance, aspects of client relationship management (CRM) can be utilised online by employing RSS feeds to deliver bespoke content, promoting events, e-learning activities and even lead generation. This reflects the change in emphasis of a dynamic, progressive website from ‘one-to-many’ communication to ‘one-to-one’. The ability to speak directly to a client, a potential recruit or any other stakeholder, is the holy grail of any commercial website.”