Last week, I wrote a blog post covering the basic elements of web design for law firms.  The post — which discussed the issues of legal jargon, blogging, and site navigation — promised a follow-up with additional tips about imagery, responsive web design, and conversion.

Imagery

Too often, images go neglected when it comes to web design outside the scope of industries like photography, where image explicitly reigns supreme over text.  After all, attorneys aren’t in the business of making pretty pictures.  Where law firms are concerned, pictures are just fillers, right?

Wrong.

It’s true that in day-to-day business, attorneys care little for photographs (unless they’re evidence in a case).  But guess who does?  Your clients.  To outsiders, the world of law is a challenging one to access: legalese, legislature, judges and juries present a daunting barrier to any layperson.  Images are reassuring.  They put a human face on an intimidating realm that most people don’t have any experience interacting with.

That said, the “human face” you choose to employ on your site is just as important as including one (or several) in the first place.  So what makes an image good or bad?

  • DON’T: use stock photos.  No matter who you ask (except maybe stock photographers), it’s a widely-held opinion that stock photos are cheesy at best, and downright surreal at worst.
  • DO: use photos of your staff.  What’s more appealing: the fake family that came with those new photo frames you bought, or the real people you’ll be replacing them with?  Using photos of actual partners and other staff members at your firm helps clients to feel like they’re making a connection with you and your firm.
  • DON’T: use grainy, poorly-lit, low-res photos.  In this day and age, there’s no excuse for tiny, fuzzy pictures.   Even a cheap camera can produce large images with high quality.
  • DO: use clear, sharp, high-res photos instead. 

How sure  can you be that personalized, non-stock imagery works best?  Well, we tested it.

We set out looking for hard data regarding the use of stock imagery on the front page of legal websites.  While performing a UX survey on two versions of a website, we noticed that many of the participants had a particular issue with ‘trustworthiness’ and in particular, the trustworthiness of the version of website that was using stock imagery.  We then set up a live A/B test where the only difference between the two sites was the use of stock imagery vs. a professional photo of the actual attorneys.  Each A/B test had a target of 100 conversions in each set.

Luke Marchie of Majux explains the process:

“We first noticed the stock imagery issue when we were testing user experience on two different websites in a small focus group.  We had the focus group to fill out a survey after being presented with each version of the site and navigating around for a short period of time.  What happened was that we saw a higher approval rating with the site using images of the actual attorneys.  Some of the visitors who viewed the stock photo site commented that they would ‘need more information before they would hire that attorney’, and also described a feeling of ‘mistrust’ based on our question about how trustworthy the attorney seemed.  The majority of the people presented with the version of the site using real photos did not choose those options.

We then set up two versions of a website (one using stock photos, one using high quality stock photos) and ran both versions through an A/B test.  The goal was to measure the total amount of traffic it took each version to reach 100 conversions.  The data very much supported our accidental findings from the focus group.

stock-image-test-data
I suppose it seems intuitive, but the data from the A/B test supported our theory that those who viewed the version with actual photos generally trusted the firm more, and seemed to need less of a push to engage an attorney than those who did not.”

Responsive Web Design

What sort of “response” is the term responsive web design referring to?  The response of a web layout to user input: that is, a website should respond to its visitor depending on factors like the type of device, browser, screen size, and even device orientation.  For instance, have you ever had to physically turn an iPad on its side because a website was displaying in the wrong direction?  It was annoying, wasn’t it?  Maybe it even left a bad taste in your mouth about the site you were visiting.  The same thing can happen to your clients if you neglect incorporating responsive design into your site.  So how can you put responsive web design into practice?

  • Test your site on different devices.  What looks great on a huge desktop screen might be cramped, ugly, or downright impossible to navigate on a comparably tiny iPhone screen.  As more and more people use mobile phones and iPads to access the web, device and platform optimization is more important than ever.
  • Try different layouts.  As technology grows, web design has become more flexible and customizable than ever.  Experiment with different layouts for your site, whether that’s adding and removing columns, changing font size, or testing different color palettes.

Conversion

Conversion is your friend.  Conversion is something you want to maximize.  But what, precisely, is it?  When a customer visits your website, it’s great that they’re there and all… but ultimately, you want them to do something (as opposed to take a brief glance, and then bounce away).  For a retailer, the goal would be to have the visitor buy something.  But for an attorney, who isn’t selling a product, conversion manifests differently, typically either as a visitor submitting a form (e.g. “Contact Us”), downloading a file your site might offer (e.g. “Guide to DUI Laws in PA”), sending an email, or signing up for a newsletter.

Now that you understand what conversion is, how do you boost your conversion rates?

  • Be accessible.  A visitor should face absolutely zero hindrances when trying to navigate around your website.  The harder it is for that visitor to make it to your “Contact” page, the less likely they are to actually feed into your conversion rates.
  • Be factual.  A blank form that simply says “Contact Us” doesn’t give the visitor very much motivation to submit.  What will motivate them?  Provide information about what they can expect.  Display physical addresses.  Point out that your consultations are free and/or confidential.  List the hours that attorneys are available to take calls.
  • Grab attention.  Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean load up your “Contact Us” page with flashing lights and annoying sound effects.  (Please, please don’t do that.)  It does mean that a visually pleasing page is more likely to hold a visitor’s attention than a dull-looking page — and the longer they pay attention, the more likely they are to click that button.

If you’re interested in improving your website’s conversion rates, responsiveness, or imagery, give us a call at 1 (800) 856-5761, or contact us online.

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