Business Edge's Essential List of Law Firm Website Design Best Practices
Posted on Wednesday, August 15, 2018
1. Be true to your firm's culture and personality
There are far too many law firm websites out there that are not an accurate reflection of the firm's skills and experience. Every day, dozens or even hundreds of visitors will research your firm by browsing your website; if the message in your branding is not thoughtful and true, the opportunity to show your worth to casual viewers and prospective clients alike is lost. If you're honest and intuitive with your firm's online portrayal, with its branding and with the language that you use to describe your unique talents, you will attract the kind of clients who are right for you. Just as honestly is important to find the right partner in a relationship, it is also a valuable marketing tool.
2. Highlight your firm's strengths on ALL your pages
What you DON'T want is for your website's viewers to have to dig deeply within your site's structure to discover your firm's strengths. Certainly tell them what your firm is good at on the home page, of course. But also do it on the about page. And don't forget the practice pages, or the attorney bio pages. Your visitor's landing page will only occasionally be your home page, so why limit the bragging about your strengths to that page alone?
3. Link related information, make the attorney biography the center of the website's universe
Descriptions of practice areas should always be linked back to the attorneys who practice in those fields. News items, articles, events, and press releases should always link back to the attorney(s) responsible for that piece of information. This inter-linking, which is easy with a proper content management tool such as LawAdmin, allows the website user seamless navigation between related and relevant information, and in many cases will lead them to the most suitable practitioner for their needs.
4. Make wise decisions for your legal social media
For every one properly maintained law firm Facebook page I've seen, I've run across ten that look like the real-estate equivalent of a vacant lot. Unless you're able to devote a reasonable amount of time to the types of social media platforms that require constant attention, you're better off with nothing. There are many other social media sites (such as Linkedin and third-party news feeds) that allow you to have a professional presence without having to update the information regularly. If your designer insists that you HAVE to have a Facebook page for your law firm, find a new designer. If you're looking for a content management solution that posts to social media when you post to your site, give us a call about Lawadmin.
5. It's 2018 - your website should be "responsive"
A "responsive" design is named as such because the design responds to the user's device. If you're looking at a small Iphone or a large Droid, a landscape or portrait-capable device, or a pocket computer or 40-inch HD monitor, the user experience will not degrade. The font and image sizes change with a responsive design, and the layout adapts for usability and readability. Before responsive design was introduced, designers had to create separate websites for the various sizes and differing functionality of a growing product line of smaller and diversely configured viewing devices. The responsive architecture allows one design to be created for all devices, lowering maintenance costs for the life of your website.
6. Insist on a legal-based content management system for site updates
Your legal content management system (CMS) should be one that is developed specifically for law firms (such as the LawAdmin product), as law firms have precise needs that are unique to their industry. The CMS should allow you to easily add and update attorney information as well as practice area text, events and news and articles, and other textual page content. It should allow you to easily upload photos and PDF files, and interlink attorney biographies with practice areas, news, and other related pages. It should be usable by people with little or no knowledge of website coding. And it should be affordable to the point where having it saves your firm money compared to having designers make all your site updates.
7. Keep web forms short and simple, and respond quickly to inquiries
No one likes filling out forms. So making it easier will result in more people responding to your request that they give you their information. Don't make them enter every detail of your case - you'd prefer to do that on the phone anyway. Make sure someone is in charge of responding to them, even if the case is not something that your firm handles.
8. Pay close attention to the usability and design esthetics of the attorney bio page
This page is the most frequently visited page by far of all your website's pages. With that in mind, ist design elements should be given careful consideration. First, your attorney photos need to be done professionally, in a controlled setting so they are consistent. Try to avoid too much text and old-fashioned case information in the biography page, and make sure every bio has a v-card link and a printable page link, and when it is printed no content is lost. Many CMS systems do this automatically, and also include a special print style sheet so printed pages don't display unneeded navigation buttons and other graphics.
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