Key Elements to Keep in Mind When Designing a Law Firm’s Website
Gone are the days where a simple mash-up of details about a firm and its lawyers is enough to make a winning website. In the digital age, the majority of people are going online to seek information and conduct research about the issues they needto solve. Organizations across all industries are quickly repositioning their online presence in an effort to take advantage of these new digital opportunities. Law firms are no exception.
Firms must embrace this online world. They must leverage these concepts of branding, digital marketing, and mobile engagement. A law firm’s website design must create an unifying brand while also providing dynamic spaces that showcase a lawyer’s biography, experience, publications, and achievements.
Potential clients are searching the web for the services law firms can provide, and a law firm’s website must be ready to embrace them. Fortunately, there are numerous tips and best practices available to take advantage of just that.
Designing Your Law Firm Website
The goal is to draw a potential client in with an aesthetically pleasing presentation that suitably showcases your business. Your law firm website may be the point of contact for promising leads or high quality students and career applicants.
70% of law firms have generated new cases through their website. You want to convert those leads. Don’t let your website be the reason why someone isn’t contacting you.
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Own Your Brand
From the moment someone enters your website, they must see your law firm’s brand, values, goals, and accomplishments. Your brand is a promise to a client, and it needs to be incorporated into every aspect of your design and user experience.
Avoid using stock photos. Hire a professional photographer or videographer and give your website the personal touch that a potential client is looking for. Not only can stock photos be a turn off for user immersion, but professional photos are proven to be more efficient in driving traffic to your website.
It can be difficult to merge your unified brand with the individual personalities that make up your legal team. With professional photos, you can maintain your lawyers’ personalities, while tying your brand together with that personal touch.
Remember, the design of your website establishes your credibility. It makes a statement about what you represent, and your overall professionalism. With the correct elements, it can make a potential client more likely to engage with your practice.
Focus on User Experience
While owning your brand is key, if you fail to provide a simple and appealing user experience, it won’t do you any good. You want your law firm’s website to be engaging, easy to navigate, and empower clients and colleagues to use it.
To create a superb user experience, think about the best way to structure your website in a way that provides a clear path for the visitor. A great way to do this is with a call to action (CTA). This is one of the most popular ways to generate leads, yet nearly 70% of law firm websites do not have a direct call to action on their homepage.
Create a CTA that most represents what your law firm does best.This will vary depending on your practice. The CTA for divorce lawyers would not be the same as that of a personal injury practice for instance.
“More than 90% of visitors who read your site headline will also read your CTA” – Unbounce
You have an array of CTA options at your disposal whether it be general inquiries, a short and sweet contact form, pop-ups, and more. Pick those that give you the best shot at converting a potential lead.
Keep It Mobile
Part of great website design is making it as accessible as possible. Prospecting clients, current clients, and colleagues are not just searching the internet on a computer. As of 2014, already 31% of all law firm related website traffic came via a mobile search. Yet as of just a year later, only one-third of law firm websites were optimized for mobile.
Users aren’t just limited to desktops, and they’re turning to mobile devices and tablets. You can have the prettiest website in the world, yet if it’s not optimized for mobile, you are alienating nearly a third of potential web traffic.
Best Content Practices
Lawyers tend to be great writers. After all, writing is a significant part of their job. But writing copy for a website is both a science and an art, and rarely follows the same formal protocols as writing up briefs, contracts, motions, and other forms of legal documents.
In fact, best practices for website copywriting are often in direct contrast to legal writing.
The reality is that people very rarely read websites. Words are important (more on this later), but users are seeking information very quickly, and more often than not will simply skim content to determine if it’s what they’re seeking.
The way you structure the content that you put on your law firm’s website can be just as important as the design. While the design process is key to creating an appealing and efficient website, the speed by which your content can be consumed and understood, determines whether or not a visitor stays engaged.
Live and Die with SEO
Many law firms have built generational legacies on referrals and expertise. This approach may have worked fine in the past, but the data clearly shows that 96% of people seeking legal advice, turn to a search engine like Google.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what keeps your website alive on search engines. Not only does it play a part in keeping your law firm’s website at the top of a search result, it also establishes credibility and raises awareness.
This is where words are important. Google is a computer – it doesn’t skim, it consumes every piece of content on your website and uses them to rank you (along with many other metrics – called signals)
To fully utilize local SEO, you need to strategically place keywords you think potential clients might use when trying to find your legal services. That’s not to mean that you should overstuff your content with keywords and links that may be deemed as spam – it’s a fine line, but finding that perfect balance can go a long way in generating potential leads.
Showcase Your Expertise
When a client lands on your website, you want to prove that your law firm is the expert legal team that they need. Content marketing can be an effective and practical digital marketing strategy that can improve your website’s reach and keep readers engaged when they land on a page.
Blog content can be a powerful tool in proving your firm’s expertise and establishing credibility. According to HubSpot, companies that published more than 16 blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more web traffic than those that only published 4 or less posts. Blogs can be a great resource for showcasing your firm’s talents by directly addressing a potential client’s pain point in a post that leads them to engaging your firm.
Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Instagram have become vital avenues of drawing potential clients to law firm websites. In fact, 45% of all traffic to law firm websites comes via LinkedIn. By incorporating a strong social media presence in your brand, you’re widening the net to potential clients.
Written content isn’t the only type of content you should display on your law firm’s website. According to a Cisco report, by 2020 video will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic. The benefits of incorporating video marketing on your firm’s site is tenfold: legal firms with marketing video content can see an increase of 157% in organic search traffic.
But that doesn’t mean you should go and publish as much video content, or any type of content, just to have it. 62% of users report that law firms with poor quality marketing videos create negative images of themselves. You want to create quality, engaging content that showcases your professional brand, not content that will tarnish it.
Offer Multilingual Content
If your law firm is based in a multilingual location and you have lawyers on staff who can practice in multiple languages, you have an opportunity to create versions of your website in those languages. While it’s not feasible to offer services or pages in languages your legal team cannot support, if potential clients are searching for law services in your area in other languages, your website should capture that aspect of the market.
A great design and engaging content is only effective if it functionally works. You need to ensure that the underlying technology that keeps your law firm website running is up-to-date and capable of handling your workflow. By ensuring that your architecture, such as the server the website is hosted on, is powerful, secure, and managed, you can spend less time ‘fixing’ your website, and more on your legal practice.
Responsive Web Design
As mentioned, a significant portion of internet browsing is done on mobile devices, and if your website cannot adjust to the different-sized screens of tablets and phones, it will automatically repel visitors and cost you business.
The benefits of a responsive website design cannot be overstated. An engaging law firm website that is quick and responsive can separate your practice from the rest of the competition that may have unresponsive websites that feel old and sluggish. This improves your credibility as an expert legal source, and better yet, improves how your site is ranked by search engines.
Secure Your Website
Security is critical. 40% of law firms did not know they were breached in 2016. Clients are trusting in you to store their confidential information and a data breach is unacceptable.
Your law firm’s website should be hosted on 24×7 monitored servers, feature firewalls and encryption systems, and be industry compliant. But don’t just achieve the industry standard – go above and beyond and assure your clients that if they choose your law firm, their information is safe.
You do not want to see your law firm’s name in a data breach headline because your website security was average or subpar.
Your website is a marketing tool and it must be compliant with your country’s compliance laws. In Canada, it is absolutely necessary to comply with the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Code of Conduct rules 3.02, 3.03, and 3.04. Running afoul of these rules could mean hefty fines.
Additionally, jurisdictions like Ontario have laws governing accessibility for people with disabilities. It is critical to understand these laws and how they relate to your law firm’s website design and functionality.
Ensuring that your legal practice is compliant under these laws can be challenging. Selecting a web design agency that specifically has prior experience supporting law firms and experience with AODA and WCAG can guarantee that you meet these compliance standards.
Creating a Best-in-Class Law Firm Website
Your website should distinguish your law firm from the rest of the competition. Showcasing your unique brand and talented team of experienced lawyers establishes your credibility in the legal industry.
It is no small feat to implement the design, content, and back-end standards that will distinguish your law firm as a premiere legal practice. You want to work with a web design agency that is fully equipped to go above and beyond in each of the above requirements. You can leverage Pixelcarve’s 20 years of website design experience for free immediately, with our proprietary guide to producing best-in-class law firm websites. To get started, contact us today.