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Selling intangibles is hard work. Putting together a successful Web site that peddles intangibles is even harder.

Lawyers, architects, engineers, designers, ad agencies, physicians, and other professionals don't, however, seem fazed. That's particularly true of the legal world, where no self-respecting law firm would be caught dead nowadays without a Web site.

Here's a look at the top sins that many professional services sites—maybe most—commit... along with some suggestions on what can be done about them.

1. Self-centeredness

This is the deadliest sin.

Visitors come to Web sites for all sorts of reasons. These include checking out bios or seeing what kind of work a firm or practice does.

Surveys tell us, however, that buyers come to sites for assurance, not ego trips. Buyers know that there's little that separates the top firms or practices from one another. They expect to be told by everybody in the top tier that "Our people went to the best schools, do the best work and care the most about our clients."

What buyers want is comfort. That means offering a site that shows "We know you, your business, and your industry—and we've solved the kind of problem you have.

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Doug Stern (www.doug-stern.com) is a freelance business writer and marketing strategist based in Louisville, KY. Contact him at 502-599-6624 or stern.doug@gmail.com.