How to Ensure Your Website Design Makes a Good First Impression in 2019
When you think of a website, it’s important to think of it as a kind of real estate. Location is no longer quite as relevant as it once was. Even businesses that do most of their business in-house can easily be found online using a simple Google search. Interested parties punch the location into Google Maps and off they go. As a business, your first line of contact is your law firm web design. It’s where you make your first impression. Where your business is located no longer matters.
What are the three most important things for law firm web design, then? User experience, user experience, and user experience. Today, digital real estate has become even more important than physical real estate. Your website is the central locus that connects you to your clients and your clients to social media pages, newsletters, podcasts, and vlogs.
So what are the major trends heading into 2019?
Improve User Experience With Wide Designs for Desktops and Laptops
When people sit down to do serious research, they generally use their desktop or their laptop. Those looking into hiring an attorney are usually pretty serious about what they’re doing. They want your page to be a resource for all their questions.
In terms of layout, you need to cater to desktop users and not just mobile devices. This means wider designs that promote ease of access and improve the user’s experience. Navigability is a key concern, but aesthetics are quite important as well.
Images that tell a story are possibly one of the most effective ways to communicate with your clients. Here, we’re talking about images of satisfied clients or clients facing a similar battle to the reader. For instance, firms that handle workers’ compensation lawsuits could employ images of those on the job or those recovering from injuries. These coupled with testimonials have proven highly effective.
Boilerplate or minimalist designs will not draw new clients. First impressions matter.
Optimize Your Site to Be Navigable on Mobile Devices
When thinking about your mobile design, you’ll want to focus on what’s immediately important to those who are looking at your site. Many people use tablets for the purpose of reading. In fact, that’s one of the primary reasons for using their mobile device. So if a potential client is interested in your site, they may prefer to use their tablet for the purpose of researching information that they’re interested in.
On your end, you want to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices. That includes, but is not limited to, adjusting your content pages, blog posts, FAQs, and information to be easily read on smaller screens.
Video Is More Important Now Than Ever
Some of the best sites nowadays have video of the firm’s top lawyers explaining their process, their goals, their mission, and the finer points of the law. This can include information such as:
- How your firm manages cases,
- Your mission in terms of representation,
- Your identity as a law firm,
- And much more.
For instance, if you are workers’ comp attorney, you can talk about some of the difficulties with the insurance claims process or why workers’ comp insurance companies deny certain claims. You can go on to talk about what you can for your clients in terms of appealing decisions when their claim is denied, the necessary steps in the process, and how your firm has helped others in their position.
For personal injury lawyers, you can talk about the steps in bringing an action against an at-fault party, the role insurance companies play in the process, and what information you’ll need to gather in order to present and prove their case.
The reason why this works is that it personalizes the information. While many people prefer to read, others prefer to gather their information through video. They can also look you in the eye, get a feel for who you are, and understand where you’re coming from. All of these are important when potential clients are making a decision.
So you should make videos explaining key areas of your practice to your clients.
Make Your Mission Known
Your Branding Can Separate You From Your Competitors
Lawyers may not be comfortable or familiar with the concept of branding, but the reason why those in marketing believe in it is that it gives a product, a company, and even a law firm a unique aura that separates it from competitors. Law firms need to be aware of this now that clients have much greater access to law firms in their locale.
Go back, say, 20 years, when the world was much smaller. If someone needed a lawyer, they would ask their friends. They can still do that, but now they also have access to Yelp, Google Reviews, and dozens of other outlets for the purpose of comparing one law firm to another.
These factors are hugely important, if a bit a reductive. There may possibly be a few top choices that a potential client considers, but after that, how are they deciding which law firm will represent them?
Stay True to Who You Are
This, of course, depends on the potential client’s individual goals. In the same way that lawyers have ideal clients, clients have lawyers that fit their personal goals. For your firm, branding entails staying true to who you are and understanding what you are about.
It also means introducing yourself to your clients with short bios. This can include honors achieved, cases won, and personal information about your life, hobbies, and things of that nature. Clients are in a vulnerable position and they need an advocate whom they can relate to.
Your Testimonials Speak to Your Success
Testimonials are a vital part of marketing. One thing that hasn’t changed is that word of mouth is still the best press a company can get. This is probably more true of law firms than most other companies.
What has changed is how much access we have to other people, their opinions, their insights, and their recommendations. Your testimonials speak to your success. Lawyers that have successfully represented clients need only ask for their testimonials. Happy clients are generally more than happy to write glowing recommendations after successful representation, large settlements, or beneficial jury verdicts.
So don’t be afraid to ask them after you’ve managed their case successfully. These can become a major part of your marketing and should be prominently displayed on your website.
When Minimalism Works: Your Menu
Confusing menus do not make for a successful visit. Remember what we said about digital real estate. The most important aspect is user experience. Simple and easily navigated menus help streamline the user’s experience. Well organized drop-down menus are key.
Reducing the size of your menus, however, requires better top-down organization. Nonetheless, there is such a thing as too much choice. Menu options for successful law firm web design are being scaled back dramatically. Simplicity is key, and less is more.
Interactivity and User Experience Are Driving Modern SEO
Interactivity is a large part of what is driving modern SEO. Why is that?
While keywords remain important, Google has recognized the vitality of user experience when ranking websites. In other words, Google is logging your visitor’s interactions with your website. The quality, duration, and nature of these interactions can radically improve your ranking in search engine results.
So when you’re thinking about content, think engaging. If your ideal clients have specific questions, answer them. You can answer them in vlogs or text, but make sure that getting information from your site is an intuitive process. When visitors arrive with specific questions and your site doesn’t provide an obvious way to find the answers, then you’re going to lose them quickly, and that will damage your SEO ranking.
You may hear that user experience (also referred to as UX) is a ranking factor for search engine results. It isn’t. It is a general design concept for Web pages, but it is actually ill-defined. Basically, the term refers to the ease of use of a website. If someone comes to your law firm’s site can they get to the relevant page quickly to find out the information they search? So, it concerns the menu structure, the menu presentation, and the indexing of the content of the pages in your site. It also concerns the design of the site with issues such as background and font color, font size and style and the amount of text on each page.
UX does have some knock-on effects for your site’s rankings and conversion of visitors to customers. For example, if your pages are slow to load, most visitors won’t hang around, but go back to the search results and go to the next page in the results instead. This gives you a high bounce rate, which is bad news for SEO. We have some tips on making websites more presentable and easier to use in this week’s report. These tips come from the Bruce Clay Blog, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, and Search Engine Land.
This article appeared on the Bruce Clay Blog at the beginning of the year. If you are a bit daunted about learning a whole new area of Web design, when you really ought to be paying attention to your legal caseload, this piece won’t overwhelm you. This gives you a gentle introduction to the topic. The author asked a number of UX experts to give a few tips on the concepts of user experience and what aspects of a website it includes.
This article appeared in Search Engine Journal this week. It puts a little more meat on the different topics of UX design. You won’t find specific instructions in this article but there are explanations of the different aspects of your site design that need UX attention. Think about the different landing pages on your site. People who get your law firm’s Web address off a card or a letterhead will arrive at your Home page. You need to make it very clear from there where customers looking for specific services should click in order to get to the right page of your site. You also need to make sure that the information on each page at least begins within the initial view of the page, and that the menu structure can be accessed without scrolling.
One of the tips given in the Search Engine Journal article above was to compress images. Images provide a big headache in UX terms because they can give your law firm’s site a really sophisticated look, but if they take too long to load, they will lose you visitors. This article focuses on the benefits of images on sites and the issue of loading times. There are links through to a range of testing tools that will help you work out whether your site’s images are slowing its load time too much. Don’t be afraid to compress the images, or try an artistic slice of a photo to reduce the amount of space taken up by images on the site. Pictures of your law firm’s building, the main partners, and possibly also your reception area would really help familiarize potential clients with your firm, but optimize those images.
UX doesn’t just apply to your law firm’s site, it also applies to the adverts you place on other sites, and also, the performance of the sites that your adverts appear on. For a lot of sites, there are UX issues for advertising on the site as well as on other sites. However, as a law firm, you really shouldn’t be carrying advertisements on your site, so onsite issues don’t really apply to you. Pay attention to the size of your ad and make sure it is visible and easy to read when accessed from a mobile site. Ensure that your ad is placed on the host site in a prominent location on the page and that the link it contains is not broken.
User experience issues also impact on content. The length of the text on each page and the old habit of keyword stuffing can influence your rankings negatively and they can also irritate the visitor and make you law firm’s site difficult to use. You don’t want to split your content over too many pages. This guide suggests looking through your site and seeing whether you could merge pages. As with some of the other articles in this week’s reading list, there are tips on optimizing your images. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to have at least one page for each practice area of your firm, and then possibly further pages that explain different legal processes and the stages each involve. This will help your customers be prepared for the task ahead when they come in to see you. It also gives you content to keep people on the site and demonstrates to the potential client that you know what you are talking about. Make each of these practice pages easy to reach from the Home page and test their loading speed. With those tasks complete, you can be confident that your site has good UX qualities.
The Top 5 Reasons Why Your Website Doesn’t Sell
Your website is the landing page of your law firm. While your firm’s blog and social media pages help to connect with potential clients while building your brand, it’s your website that’s at the core of your marketing success. If your website doesn’t convert clients, all the lead generation from other sources can be rendered useless.
If you’re not getting the results you’ve been hoping for from your law firm web design, here are the top 5 reasons why your website isn’t selling, and what you can do to change the tides to drive better traffic, and improve user engagement.
1. Lack of Testimonials
If your website doesn’t include testimonials, you’re missing out on a highly-effective conversion tool. Testimonials from satisfied clients can turn a skeptical prospective client into a convinced one. A good testimonial conveys that your firm is trustworthy, professional, and can deliver results.
2. Not Mobile-Friendly
Mobile traffic now tops desktop traffic, so if users can’t access your website from their phone, you’re letting clients slip through your hands. Would-be clients are often on-the-go, and your website should be able to accommodate their needs in a quick and easy manner.
TIP: Make sure that your contact information is readily visible on your mobile website. If a client using a phone has to scroll to contact you, that can equate to a dead lead.
3. Not Client-Friendly
Clients in need of legal help want a law firm’s website to be focused on them. This means providing answers to frequently-asked questions, lending helpful tips, and ensuring a client that your firm can take care of their legal needs.
4. Slow Load Times
Even if your website is filled with bravado media, visitors will likely leave your site if pages take too long to load. Compressing images and large files can lead to quicker load times.
TIP: Use a tool like Smush.it to shrink files and optimize your site’s performance.
5. Outdated Information
Have you ever scrolled down to the bottom of a web page to where a copyright date is listed, and it’s outdated by a year, or two? Doesn’t give much confidence that the company who owns the site is doing any recent business.
A website that’s outdated, or looks that way by use of outdated design, Flash graphics, etc., is an instant turn off to clients. Make sure that your firm’s website is current by implementing the latest technology, refreshing existing copy regularly, and adding new, quality copy every week.
3 Most Powerful Ways to Feature Client Testimonials on Your Lawyer Website
A recent Local Consumer Review Survey found that more than 70% of Internet users lend as much credibility to online reviews as personal recommendations, and 52% reported that they are more likely to go to a local business based on favorable online reviews. What’s the key takeaway here? Client testimonials can be your best friend in terms of legal marketing. Leverage them to their fullest potential on your lawyer website by following these suggestions.
Experiment with Rotating Testimonial Sidebars
Your law firm website might well be your most frequently viewed marketing piece. After all, it’s probably the go-to destination for people looking to find information about your practice. With all those eyes on your webpage, including testimonials is a must. Try featuring small testimonial snippets in a rotating sidebar on your lawyer website homepage or including a link to a dedicated testimonial subpage from the main page.
Make a Movie
Videos are extremely powerful at hitting a message home, just one of the reasons that video marketing has increased in popularity in recent years. If you’re thinking that your firm doesn’t have the resources necessary to create a compelling video, think again! With the availability of camera phones and webcam software like Skype, testimonial videos do not need to be very involved productions.
Here are just a few options for creating testimonial videos:
- If satisfied clients regularly come into your office (for instance, to fill out follow-up paperwork), consider making a computer station and private room at your firm available for gathering testimonial videos. They can sit down and record a brief video about what they specifically appreciate about your firm. Then, host a cache of these videos on your website.
- Hire a videographer to make a short video compilation of compelling client stories. For instance, your personal injury firm can ask people to talk about how their lives improved after working with the practice to receive the disability benefits they deserved.
- Utilize videos from other sources—if your firm is featured in a local news piece, for instance, ask permission to use it on your lawyer website.
Link to Social Media
Your law firm’s Yelp and Glassdoor pages are the ideal places to showcase how clients feel about the services you’ve provided and how coworkers feel about the overall environment and culture at your firm, respectively. With these platforms, reviewers have done nearly all the work for you… all you have to do is share their words!
Take the best testimonials from your pages and spread them to your lawyer website or in marketing emails. Don’t forget to include buttons that route to your Yelp and/or Glassdoor page(s), as well as your social media platforms.
We can help improve your site and boost leads to your practice. Ask for a free attorney website evaluation!
5 Valuable Tips To Learn From a Bad Attorney Website
When prospective clients come to your website, they’re usually looking for three things: 1) To get answers to their legal questions, 2) Find out what steps they need to take next, and 3) Find out if you’re the attorney they should be taking those steps with. Websites that don’t answer these questions in a clear and user-friendly manner will likely send a client searching for a site that will.
There are a lot of good attorney websites out there, but you can often learn more from websites that aren’t so good. From confusing navigation, to audio and visual overkill, and overall broken mechanics, here are 5 valuable tips to learn from a bad attorney website.
1. Legalese Ad Nauseum
Ipso facto, Bore-o. Prospective clients that come to your website aren’t attorneys—they’re people in need of legal help. If your site’s language consists primarily of legal jargon, you’ll confuse your audience, and viewers are likely to move on to another site; e.g. your competitor’s, that speaks in a more straightforward tone.
2. Superfluous Clicks
When site navigating, users shouldn’t have to stop where they don’t need to. Make sure all of your links are descriptive, and don’t link to a link of another link. Don’t tell readers to “Click Here,” if you’re not telling them what the link leads to. Better title is “Click Here for More Information on DUI Defense Tips.”
3. Confusing Navigation
Keep your site navigation simple. Menus, drop down or stationary, should be easy to read and use, and visitors should have an immediate way back to the home page, and to all contact forms. Content headings should be direct and short, so visitors can find exactly what they need through a quick overview of the page.
4. Audio and Visual Overkill
Audio on an attorney website is a bad idea; e.g. streaming music or click-activated tones, and should be removed. Not only does audio date your site, it’s distracting for those trying to read and retain information.
In addition, Flash animation and other graphics can freeze your site, even on speedy connections. This lag will annoy visitors, and hefty bounce rates will likely ensue.
5. Broken Mechanics
Pages and broken links that produce error messages reflect poorly on the competence and marketing value of your firm. Make sure that current links are functional, and updated links are added on a regular basis—weekly is preferred. This is important to maintain viewer interest, and boost SEO.
Help prospects find you and get higher quality leads. Add new quality content to your website to rank for additional keywords. Actively engage your website content and blogs, because if you allow your site to stagnate, it’s Google ranking will slip below those of competitors with more active websites.
Request a free website evaluation by clicking here and learn how your site can generate more leads for your legal practice.
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If you need more guidance, we are happy to help. Schedule an appointment with our CEO, Michael, or call (714) 613-0042.