The centerpiece of your law firm’s digital presence is its website. Not only will you want potential clients to readily find you after a quick Google search, but your website must combine elegance and sophistication to showcase your law firm’s brand, celebrate its team and promote its work to decisively establish your firm’s credibility.
This objective requires your website design agency to be trailblazers in visual design and user experience, strong technical experts for web development, and have grounded experience in the legal industry. Together these guarantee compliance in marketing legal services and a skillfully interaction with your firm’s internal dynamics in order to deliver your website goals.
These goals include producing an aesthetically beautiful presentation, a fluid and intuitive user experience for your clients and colleagues and, tying it all together, a story to convert highly promising leads. Whether it be new business for your law firm or high quality students and career applicants.
13 Essential Features to a Strong Law Firm Website
Your law firm’s website structure comprises of two core parts: the centralized site representing the firm as a whole and a collection of mini-sites showcasing the experience and accomplishments of each Partner and Associate. Your web design agency should deliver all of this using these 12 elements, which are the most important features for your law firm website:
Your website must showcase your law firm’s brand, values, goals and accomplishments in a clean, modern manner. In fact, 2 out of 3 website visitors prefer viewing a beautiful looking website (Adobe). But your agency must also guarantee that the website’s user experience is void of difficulty, and provides a clear path for the visitor. The goal is to intimately connect the visitor to your law firm’s story and to freely enable them to find information about the services they need and the lawyers who will best assist them.
The effectiveness of your website is contingent on the technology delivering it to your clients and colleagues alike. The website front-end must use responsive web design to adapt to different devices and screen-resolutions (laptops, phones, etc). Its back-end architecture must be powerful enough to drive a feature-rich website, but it must also be accessible enough so that your staff can easily manage and update its content without having to escalate it to your agency or IT staff.
Though essential, beautiful aesthetics aren’t enough. Your website must support your law firm’s business goals, which might include hosting databases to access client information and other key features. For example, Zarek Taylor Grossman Hanrahan LLP required a Private Arbitration Decisions search suite in their website, which has now become an industry standard research tool and draws in a large volume of their website traffic.
Building upon the back-end functions, your new website should integrate with your law firm’s existing IT stack. In other words, you shouldn’t have to change the software managing your client information or force new IT investments.
5. Legal Rules
Since your website is an instrument for marketing legal services, it is absolutely essential that it comply with the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Code of Conduct rules 3.02, 3.03 and 3.04. Through prior experience supporting law firms, your web design agency will guarantee that your website complies with the regulations governing how you are and aren’t allowed to market legal services.
In addition, many jurisdictions, including Ontario, have laws governing accessibility for people with disabilities. Understanding these laws and how they relate to the design and functionality of your website, is critical to ensuring your compliance. Working with an agency experienced with AODA and WCAG will ensure you don’t run afoul of the law and risk fines.
Security is integral. You have confidential client information on your website, even if it’s just form data being captured from leads, so therefore you should have zero tolerance for digital vulnerabilities and other liabilities costly to your brand and bottom-line. Your web design company will fuse beauitful front-end design with airtight security measures, such as hardened servers, encryption, firewalls and compliance with modern web security standards.
7. User Experience
Aesthetics aren’t the only element of website design – an appealing front-end is useless if the user experience fails in fulfilling your user’s goals. Your website must be easy to navigate, empowering both clients and colleagues to readily use it. People today have more going on than ever before, and their attention spans are limited. They should be able to quickly navigate to the information they want in as little time as possible, with as little clicks as possible. If your web design agency fails in this respect, then it will adversely impact your brand.
Your website’s design is a blend of its unique aesthetic appeal, user experience quality and depth of useful content. Is your website design agency fusing these elements in a way that best represents your law firm’s brand, credibility and achievements? Is the website visitor appreciating the high position of your firm in the legal industry, and are these reflected in the overall visual appeal?
Is your website attracting the clients you want? Is your website ensuring that the best employees are inspired to join your firm? Are the most promising law students and accomplished lawyers finding your best content? Your agency must ensure that the right content is available and – through an excellent user experience – be accessible to visitors.
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 Words are important, 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. For this reason it’s important to work with an agency that has copywriters with experience writing marketing copy for law firm websites.
11. Photography & Video
The best presentation of your law firm must involve the use of original cinematic-quality video and photographs of your firm. Through such collateral, your website will showcase your Partners and Associates as the leaders of the legal industry, thus driving credibility to your brand and elevating your firm’s story. This is the key to attracting the best clients and talent, so look for an agency with its own creative design and development services.
12. Optimized for SEO
Through search engine optimization (SEO), your law firm can draw traffic from people seeking you out on search engines such as Google. If a potential client is looking for legal advice or information, an SEO-optimized website will bring that lead to your firm’s website. Solid inbound marketing strategies will save your firm on marketing costs while also drawing interested visitors to your website.
13. Making the Right Choice
Your website should be a rich resource for generating leads and converting them into clients. It should distinguish your law firm and establish its credibility in the legal industry. Select an agency that brings industry-leading technical skill, a bevy of legal industry experience and an unyielding desire to position its legal clients for success.
Implementing the most important features of your law firm website is no small feat, It’s important to work with a web design agency that’s fully-equipped to excel in every one of the above requirements. Pixelcarve’s proprietary guide to producing best-in-class law firm website is available for free, include it as a framework to guide your RFP process.