When I started this article to write about website design for a law firm it is easy to say that the most important thing is to stay focused on the goal of the website and that is to convert the people that visit into new clients for your law office. Besides the necessary SEO for law firms we have to pay a lot attention to the design of the website to reach that goal.
That sounds simple but can only be achieved when we have a full understanding of all the possible factors that are available to reach that goal and make an optimal use of them.
The best law firm website design is the perfect combination of basic principles and using the best of all available options
Following the latest trends or keep looking at what others are doing and making changes is not the best approach. Staying focused on the end goal and helping your firm grow by gaining more visitors in the online world.
Although it is good to have a look at all the options and see if implementing them would be a good idea there are a few things we have to keep in mind.
- Will it convert visitors in clients
- Will it keep them on your website longer
- Will they feel more connected with you
It might look for example real nice to have a high resolution video on websites for lawyers and law firms but what if it slows down you website? There is a change that visitors will hit the back button. After all it is a fact that the time span to catch a visitor’s attention is just a few seconds even on law firm websites.
So how do we look at the endless options and sift out the things that really work?
By staying focused on the things we know that work and using them in the most effective and optimal way. Besides that we always are keeping a close eye on new trends and that have the potential to help us achieve our main goal. We do not implement anything if we do not have any type of data to support the effectiveness of it.
To make it a little clearer to you what some of the main ingredients are that we use to build a good website for an attorney, we made a list of them and share our thought on how to tune them to make them perfect.
Call To Action
The call to action or CTA is where you ask the visitors of your website to take a very specific step.
This can be several things like:
- Free consultation
- Contact form
- Phone number
- Downloadable information
Most law firms are hiding their call to action too much or have none at all.
The purpose of the CTA is to make it as easy as possible to contact your law firm. By making the CTA stand out but not being overly prominent you avoid any feeling of being pushed by your visitors.
Online forms are used to make it easy to contact you and that is what they are used for in the first place.
A phone number should be clickable on any smart phone. Since about 60% of the people online use their phone for searching this a very important part of this call to action that I have missed many times.
The CTA is one of the most important and overlooked part of your website. It has to be very easy to use and cannot contain any distractions. We have to look at a few thing to fit it into your website.
- Where to place it
- How many?
- How big or small?
- Used colors
Is it easy to locate and does it “draw” your visitors eyes to it as soon as they visit our website?
It is important to have the right frequency on a page. Some pages only need one and other might need more. It all depends on the type of page.
The size your CTA button is determined by the information on the page itself. A busy page with a lot of information needs a larger call to action than a page that has a clean design.
Your CTA button needs to stand out but have to be nice for the eyes. It should not “scream” its message. The color has to fit in the overall color scheme of your web design. Like I explained above there is no one size fits all solution and it has to be tailored for every page of your website.
High Quality Images
For the images that will be used for your site we have to make sure to have a couple of important in place.
What is see many times is that pictures are not high resolution. Any image on your site should be of the highest resolution and quality. I cannot stress that enough! The second qualification is that they have to be pleasant for the eye and I mean in an aesthetic way.
The image you use to introduce you on your home page and about page should have in impact on your visitors.
With a poor composition and not enough resolution a picture can have a negative effect on your visitors first impression.
Your image should make a great impression and just like the CTA stand out in a good way. Not to prominent but it should draw the visitor’s attention right away.
For this reason we always advise to hire a professional photographer to take you pictures.
One tip is to include some pictures from your city on your website to add some local flavor to it from your possible new clients from your living area.
The use of the right font can have a big impact on your visitors and the time they spend on you site and even the change of them using the CTA.
The used font needs to be consistent on the entire website and needs to be the right type and weight.
Sometimes this is a very personal choice and we will discuss this with you.
Cluttered and White Space
It is very easy to fall for the latest shining object trick. You visit someone else their site and you see this nice animation or icon and you think you should get that to. In the beginning of my web design career I fell for this several times but I learned to look it in a different way now.
Although new option do not need to be ignored and might be a great addition or option to optimize your site even better there is one thing we have to keep in mind.
Will this convert my visitors into clients?
The second thing is that you have to see if it fits into what is already on your site and that it does not distract from what you tried to achieve at first.
Many site owners tend to add more and more to their site and clutter it will all kind of new things that does not add any value to the site then to make it look cluttered.
There are many professionals that we agree with that say that you need white space in your design.
White space is exactly what the names says. Space on your page where there is nothing to see or read.
The use of white space will allow your visitors to focus better on the things that are important and convert. It also creates a more calm and open canvas.
Although the recent believe that people don’t like to read is gaining momentum it is quite obvious that this is not true. (I hope not since I spend a lot of time writing this…) There are too many very popular sites where people read articles.
The truth behind it is a well-known fact that people process visual information like pictures and video faster than with reading.
This means that people don’t mind reading but when the information is offered in a visual way they take the easy way.
This is a great thing to know when you develop a website for attorneys. The process that people go through on your website is that they look for information first and see if they can connect with you in an emotional way. By giving them the video and pictures to do this fast and easy you increase the change of converting them into clients.
The trust factor you try to give them can be done by letting them picking up information through the tone of your voice, body language and probably a good haircut. These things are easier to gain in a video than with text.
Videos need to be well produced there is no doubt about that. But videos with you talking is just one of the options to use videos on your website. A video blog and clients testimonials are a great option.
Law firms have been kind of slow to adapt to these new law firm marketing options although they are a great option to Differentiate you and your law firm
Stand out in a crowd
The internet is becoming more crowded every day. The estimate is that every day there are 140.000 new websites added. There are roughly 4.7 billion web pages online.
This makes it much harder to stand out and show the world that your brand is different than all the others out there. There are a few things that do help.
- A great website
- Lengthy content
- social presence
- Strong values
It is just a fact that many attorneys have these things in place and that brings up the question how to make your website stand out in this big crowd.
If you look at the attorney website that are doing well, and that is part of my daily work, is that they use the effective value of storytelling.
They highlight the story of their law firm and their personal part in this.
Like I mentioned before a potential clients is looking for ways to evaluate an attorney’s trustworthiness and if they like him as a person.
Every law firm has what is called their USP, Unique selling proposition. Yours can be the history and or traditions that might go back decades. Problem is that many sites tell you that they have them, but do not show them anywhere.
By including pictures and stories of past partners or how the firm looked years ago you establish that history in a visual way and not just in writing.
It can be hard to get started with this and put it in writing but maybe if you ask yourself questions like: what makes my company unique? What do my possible clients need from me or my services? What is the mission of my law firm?
By answering these question you can come up with many ways to write content and add pictures to stand out from firms who just claim these points with no proof of them on their website.
The use of color
It might not always be obvious why web designers use certain color schemes. There is however a reason behind it. Although I can’t say if other companies think about the way we do at lbl internet marketing but we do implement color schemes as a very important part of our web design for an attorney website.
There is more than enough proof that colors have an emotional and psychological impact on us.
Restaurants use red since this provokes hunger. Green is associate with health and this all makes picking the right colors to an underestimated marketing tool.
We do not just pick two great colors but develop a total color scheme for all ingredients of the websites we build.
All colors have to work together to create a visual appealing and consistent experience for your visitors.
The use of the right font in combination with the most converting colors in you call to action can have a huge impact on the success of your website.
Navigation and simplicity
This should be known as common knowledge by know but I still see many sites that make this huge mistake.
One of the most important thing is to make sure that your visitors can find what they are looking for within two or three clicks at the most from the home page.
Like we wrote in our article about the attorney bio page your visitors look for basic information in the first place and then will dig deeper if the like what they see. The look for:
- Who is this person
- Do you practice what I need
- Can I trust him and is he good
- How can I get in touch with them
Okay, I can hear you say now that I mentioned that you needed as much content as possible. That I needed that for my SEO and provide answers to all their questions!
This is totally true and more content is important but you have to look at it this way.
It does not have to be visible in the navigation part of your website.
Content can be put in silo’s that visitors can find a later stadium of their visit.
There is no purpose in having all your content in your navigation on you home page.
You can make a link to the main topic and show links in the text to more information.
At one time I used a custom side bar for every subject on a website that linked to only more articles about that subject.
The purpose of the main navigation is to give the visitors the information they want without any overload and confusion.
The faster the better
Speed is is one of the over 200 what are called a ranking factors in Google’s algorithm. It is not a huge factor but in website design fore lawyers it is important enough to keep in mind.
A slow site is bad for conversion and SEO. Google does not like it and you visitors don’t like it and will show this in your bounce rate.
Internet users are impatient and to be honest I am probably one of the worst ones.
Bounce rate is determined by how fast people hit the back button and by how long they stay on a page.
It does not always make sense but less pictures, videos and graphics makes your page load faster. We like them however to please our readers.
Your site needs to be fast and I mean really fast. Your visitors will thank you by staying longer and search engines reward you by better rankings.
The hosting company in combination with many other factors like content will determine a lot of the load speed of your website. We can advise you on some of the fastest hosting companies we work with.
HTTP or HTTPS?
Just like speed an SSl certificate is a ranking factor but there is more to tell about it.
Google announced that at his time it is not a big factor but also mentioned that a secured site will show above a non secure one. With security and hacking something you can read about in the news every day it needs a little attention. People put their contact information on your site and expect it to be safe there. An SSL certificate gives an extra layer of security to your website to protect you client’s information.
Although at this time not a big ranking factor that can change in the future and to be honest I expect it to be. By setting up a new site or updating an old site it can be a very important step to take.
There is also and disadvantage and I have experienced that first hand with one of my own websites.
It takes time for Google to find a site that is updated to HTTPS and the ranking might drop for a while.
A new site however is in my opinion a no brainer and should be set up as HTTPS from the start.
Adjusting to all devices
Although this should be a well-known fact since a few years, I still see website that are not adapted to this.
Your website should be view able on any device. From desktop to laptop and from tablet to smart phone. The best websites for lawyers have all a great view on all possible devices.
This might in some case easier said the done but in our web design we use a variety of testing tools to make sure that this is the case for the sites we build.
There is only on way to make sure that your website is responsive and that is to plan for it in the design phase of it. This is not something you would like to do at later stadium. This not easy to accomplish and not cost efficient.
Have any questions about your law firm’s website?
If you would like to speak with me about your website and it does not matter if it is brand new, needs a total make over or both you can contact me today.
If you prefer not to call we can perform a free analysis of your website and email you the results and our recommendations. In this analysis we will look at your site and find all the pros and cons give you some free of charge steps you can take to improve the overall health of your website even if you prefer not to work with Lbl Internet Marketing.
Edward van Aken
LbL Internet Marketing.
1212 Pond River RD