Web design is obviously important. We’ve come a long way from the Angelfire pages of the 1990s. Today, web design is more sophisticated — and more demanding — than ever before.
Different industries follow different (and often unspoken) aesthetic and content norms. There is a large variance in how different industries present themselves — and attorneys and law firms are no exception to the rule. This is due to several factors including how long the sales process is, the sophistication of the intended consumer, and they type of conversion you are seeking. With that in mind, here are some website design tips for law firms.
Provide Good Content
This might seem like a no-brainer — of course good content is preferable to bad content — but the challenge comes once you start to think about what “makes content good” for your intended consumer. Good content is:
- Accessible. When you hear the word “jargon,” every head in the room turns toward the attorney. There’s even a word for law-related jargon: legalese. This is simple to avoid on your site – simply avoid legalese. Most online content is not geared towards referrals from other attorneys; it’s ultimately for a potential client. Those clients might be business owners, professionals, or construction workers, but whatever they do, there’s a good chance they won’t be as well-versed in the often baffling intricacies of legal language as a trained attorney. Don’t write for your peers — write for your audience. You can do this and still convey that you know what you are talking about. Some things to think about are language that might be more common for your audience – for instance, we previously wrote a blog post about how the word ‘lawyer’ is searched for much more often than ‘attorney’ within certain practice areas. Be conscious of these types of intricacies and play to your audience.
- Relevant and clear. People are coming to and staying on your website for a reason: there’s a topic they’re interested in, and they think you might have the answer. Don’t disappoint them with boilerplate fluff. Provide hard information: facts, procedures, strategies, and fees.
Write a Blog
If a topic exists, chances are there’s a blog dedicated to it. Our internet-savvy society has come to expect blogs from “credible” websites. But blogging is more than just an audience expectation. Blogging actually serves a few different practical purposes, such as:
- Providing SEO and link opportunities. Blog posts are a great way to shuttle visitors around your website. Link to other pages within your site by using anchor text phrases that are relevant to your practice or resource pages (e.g. ‘Los Angeles assault attorney,’ ‘declaring bankruptcy in Ohio’ linking to those practice areas). This is one of the basics that let Google know a little more about what your site is about as well as directing the reader towards pages that are set up to convert them into a phone call or email.
- Supplying “hot” and interesting information. The fact of the matter is, a web page about how filing for bankruptcy works is not going to blow up and turn viral. That’s precisely where your blog comes in. While practice and resource pages supply relatively unexciting but useful information (at least from the internet’s perspective), your blog posts can be nicely separated and set up to seize on the latest and most interesting content to generate a boost in traffic.
Allow Easy Navigation
Nothing is more frustrating than a site full of broken links and information overkill. Websites need to be clean, smooth, and easy to navigate. With that in mind:
- No matter where a visitor travels within your site, they should always have easy access to the home page, contact page, and other important links (i.e. any pages you want to focus on directing traffic toward). Keeping a consistent panel of those links across the top of your site, for example, is a great way to ensure that visitors will never be stranded on an unlinked page. It is also accepted that visitors have come to expect certain pages be located in certain areas of your site. For instance contact pages should always be linked to from the footer as well as the far right of your main navigation bar.
- In addition to always providing a “way home” (and elsewhere) for your visitors, attorneys should be mindful of how much information they’re supplying. People shouldn’t have to put in effort to sift through mega-paragraphs. Break up your text with images, numbered lists, and bullet points. Keep your font professional and easy on the eyes in terms of typeface and color scheme. Make sure text isn’t overflowing into the margins, or overlapping itself.
In the next installment of our two part series on web design for law firms, we will cover topics such as imagery, responsive web design, and conversion. If you’re interested in improving your firm’s website design, feel free to contact us online, or call (800) 856-5761. We’d be happy to send over a free estimate.