Without a high quality website, attorneys will struggle mightily to accomplish anything of significance in 2019. SEO for lawyers is dependent on having a properly built website. Marketing only works for attorneys if they have an impressive site to lead online consumers back to. And good luck trying to get a fellow lawyer to refer you clients, if they go online and find that your firm’s homepage looks about 10 years out of date.
In order to develop a great modern looking website for your firm, you’ll probably want to hire a professional web designer. When meeting with a web designer for the first time, they are going to ask for your input. The more knowledge you have about designing a law firm website going in, the better you’ll be able to share the vision of what you want your site to be to a designer. With that in mind, we’ve created a blog post that should help inform lawyers on what is necessary to improve their firm’s site. To help guide us through the process, we’ve decided to consult with two professional web designers.
Founder of Mankato Web Design
Web Developer/Graphic Designer at Answering Legal
Below we’ve laid out eight questions that lawyers are likely to have regarding the web site design process. Let’s see what our two experts have to say.
What needs to be present on the homepage of a law firm’s website?
Matt Peschong: Your law firm homepage isn’t your entire website. Despite this, many attorneys try to cram every single piece of sales and sales confidence language they can into a homepage. This will more often than not drive potential clients away rather them keep them engaged on your website.
Whether your firm is a large scale international firm or you’re a solo attorney, your homepage should include the following elements:
- Eye catching, professional photography of you or your staff.
- Credibility builders, such as professional association memberships, awards, and stellar results.
- Calls for your potential client to take action (fill out a form, download a free PDF, or pickup the phone).
- An uncluttered, clear, easy to navigate design.
- An overview of your practice areas.
- A responsive design that is compatible with cell phones, tablets and desktop.
Should law firm websites be heavier on text or images?
Billy Ferris: A website’s design may make the first impression, but the information available will make the lasting impression. Top-notch photography and design can only take you so far, if you’re not providing your visitors with engaging and informative content. If they’re not getting the answers they’re looking for, you will most definitely lose that potential client. Imagery and content should be well-balanced to create the most compelling and immersive user experience for your site visitors.
What do lawyers need to do to ensure their website is up to speed?
More often than not, the hosting provider a law firm uses may cause lag in download speed and simply migrating hosting companies can radically increase speed. A good source for those attorneys using the world’s most common content management system (WordPress) would be this article.
What colors should lawyers be using when designing new sites?
Billy Ferris: Color influences emotions in ways that not many other design elements can mirror. There are several factors that could influence the selection of colors for your law firm’s website, including your practice area, target audience, and location. For example, family lawyer websites should stick with soft and friendly colors, while criminal attorneys may want to focus on more aggressive colors like reds and blacks for their websites. Study your target audience and cater to the people who would actually be inclined to hire you as their attorney.
Some more things to keep in mind when choosing colors for your law firm’s website:
- Choose colors that compliment each other.
- Test color contrast for optimal legibility.
- Use a color palette tool to help you.
Why is it more important than ever for websites to perform well on mobile, and how can lawyers ensure that they do?
Matt Peschong: By not having a responsive design website (mobile first) you’re simply leaving too many cards on the table. Website visitors are no longer dependent on rushing to their home office to jump online and look up an attorney. When an issue comes up in a person’s life, they’re quick to turn to their cell phones to “Google” the best lawyer in the local area. Whether a potential client is using a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or cell phone, your firm should be confident they are accessing your website with a high quality user experience across every platform.
Some key elements for a mobile first website include:
- Testing your website not only for desktop speed, but mobile speed as well.
- Including a clear call to action phone number on the top of your landing pages.
- Having a clear menu icon as well as the word “MENU” next to it for those who are not familiar with the icon.
- Keeping header elements with your logo, phone number, and menu icon while a user scrolls down your page.
- Including contact form field elements specific to data fields such as having the phone field populate numbers automatically on a cell phone.
- Using large easy to read fonts on a cell phone.
How can FAQs and reviews be used on a website to build consumer confidence?
Billy Ferris: People will naturally have questions as they’re browsing your website. You can’t possibly cater specific content for every individual that comes across your site, and that’s where FAQs come in.
Your FAQ page is a section of your website that will become a go-to destination for your potential clients. This page is one of the most overlooked pages by attorneys, but in reality, is one of the most important.
People want answers as fast as possible. If they don’t get them within the first few seconds after landing on your website, it’s very likely they leave your site and convert somewhere else. That’s what makes FAQs so vital to your buyers’ journey. They will give people a second chance at getting the answers to the questions that they’re initially interested in.
As for reviews, even the most engaging websites that lack showcased reviews can lose clients to competitors that feature more positive reviews. Sharing reviews and stories from former customers will enhance your presence as a reputable law firm, and will encourage potential customers to trust your company.
Any advice for lawyers on building a blog? Should the blog be a part of the firm’s website?
Matt: A blog should always be a part of your law firm website. If your blog is part of your website, and you’re marketing it correctly, more traffic, domain authority, and backlinks will be directed to your firm’s website and they’ll be more opportunities for converting potential clients into clients.
It is important to note that search engines in 2019 love content. The more often you blog about topics relevant to your key audience the better. Remember always to write lengthy, well written, and well researched blog articles. The more content you have on your website, the more ways potential clients have to find you when searching online.
Too many attorneys focusing on the basic keyword phrases, such as “Minneapolis Personal Injury Lawyer”, while neglecting blog worthy topics like “How Do I Choose The Best Lawyer After An Auto Accident”. These long tail keywords may not be searched as much, but they show the intent of a potential client doing research.
Most professional conduct regulations won’t allow you to call yourself “the best”, but potential clients are always looking for the best. Write an article on qualities in an attorney or law firm one should look for when looking for the best attorney in an area on a particular practice area you represent. Just don’t call yourself the best. If they arrived at your site based on their search and your blog article, they’re likely to pick up the phone and see if you’re the best!
If you feel you don’t have time to blog, it’s really not as hard as you think. If you feel posting a blog too infrequently will make your website look bad, no problem. Just don’t display the date your blogs were posted! Your blogs will still be indexed by search engines, and there will still be opportunities for your blog articles days, months or even years down the road to bring in new clients, simply by being on your website. It’s always better to do something and blog even a little, then to just make excuses not to blog.
Is a simple design best when it comes to law firm contact forms?
Billy: Keeping contact forms short and simple helps encourage potential clients to actually fill out the form. Take a look at your form through your visitor’s eyes. If you feel uncomfortable or bothered filling out your own form, chances are so will potential customers. These are lost opportunities.
It’s always in your best interest to test, test and test again to find out what’s best for YOUR business model. Some firms may need more information than others. Just remember, the more information you ask for, the more likely a potential customer is to feel uncomfortable about giving out information online. Keep the private details to the phone calls.