Patterson Thuente Skaar & Christensen

A dynamic, audience-appropriate look.

When management at the Minneapolis-based intellectual property law firm Patterson Thuente Skaar & Christensen decided to take a critical look at its five-year-old Web site, they felt the site had grown dated, static, and too inwardly focused, with copy that wasn’t always written with clients in mind. The evaluation prompted a redesign with the aid of The Nancekivell Group, a marketing and branding agency that is now part of Padilla Speer Beardsley, a public relations firm in Minneapolis.
 
“The site no longer reflected our business culture or the cutting-edge nature of the clients we work with, many of whom are developing the latest-and-greatest innovations in the world of technology,” says Tracy Dann, the firm’s director of marketing. “We also wanted to ensure that when someone visits the site, they know immediately our area of specialty, which is intellectual property law.”
 
The latter goal was addressed with new marquee text on the home page that reads, “IP law is all we do.” To give the page a more compelling, audience-appropriate look, Nancekivell suggested using animated images of iconic, patented products, including the light bulb, telephone, polio vaccine, digital camera, and flat screen computer monitor. “Down the road, we hope to use imagery of our own clients’ inventions on the page,” Dann says.
 
Existing site copy also needed to be “a bit shorter, snappier, and more audience-focused,” says Carrie Young, director of client service at Nancekivell. Dann says the goal was to rework text “from the client’s perspective, stressing easily understood ways how the firm can address their patent challenges with our expertise.” In addition, she says the site’s information architecture needed rebuilding.
 
The result is a refurbished site that features more intuitive navigation, bolder graphics, more robust attorney biographies, and a more comprehensive and frequently refreshed resource center, which highlights the latest developments in patent reform and updates from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. “With so many changes in IP law in recent years, our goal is to keep more current articles and decisions in that section,” Dann says.
 
The first year after the new site went live saw a 35 percent increase in monthly traffic, according to Young, and an increase in the time of the average site visit to five minutes from two minutes.
Easier Updating
 
As the one responsible for updating the site, Dann finds its new database-driven nature makes her job easier. The automated feature speeds the process of uploading newsletters, updating attorneys’ bios, or placing new patent-related articles on the site. In addition, portions of the site can be amended with a user-friendly Web editor, “so if I want to make changes, I can often do them on my own,” Dann says. To make the site useful to the firm’s clients in Asia, for example, she added some pages in Chinese.
 
Key to the redesign’s success was preliminary input from the right constituencies in the> law firm, Dann says, as well as user suggestions and the right redesign partner.
 
“It’s vital to get everyone on the same page on a creative direction, and that requires a lot of upfront work,” she says. “But once you have some consensus, the process becomes much more efficient and productive, and in our case it created an end result we’re pretty pleased with.”