Whether yours is a small, mid-sized or large law firm, the most important tool in your suite of marketing strategies is your website.
Long gone are the days when law firms and lawyers were banned from advertising. In that era, they compensated by having impressive offices decorated with opulent furniture and expensive artwork that created a rich ambiance.
This helped to create a good first impression to the client as she or he walked in.
Today, that’s what a good law firm web design does for you. You can make an impact in the 0.05 seconds that it takes to make the right first impression through your professionally developed and designed website.
You could be a young firm that can currently afford just a small office, but a top quality website can counter-balance all that.
Websites For Law Firms: Why Do They Matter?
With more than 400,000 law firms employing more than 1,287,274 people, jostling for space and competing for business in the US, this sector is jam-packed to put it mildly.
The industry is populated largely by small and mid-sized firms with a large chunk of full-service legal firms that serve corporate clients.
Apart from attracting new clientele, your website is your unflagging, tireless, constant 24x7x365 marketing department.
It serves to inform, educate, assist existing clients and keep them updated with the latest rulings and verdicts both locally and nationally. It also provides updates on new regulations, amendments, revocations, new laws, etc. that have come into existence.
It is a platform to showcase your qualifications, membership of prestigious associations/bodies, successes, achievements, awards, and also to display details about your team members along with their photographs.
Websites promote a feeling of trust and credibility in visitors and clients. They help you to compete on a level playing field with larger, better-known firms in your area.
More than 57% of people who need legal advice/assistance/advocacy tend to look online for a lawyer or law firm. Typically, they use a search engine or if they’ve heard of a name, they look for the website.
Even if they get a personal recommendation or a referral from a family-member, friend etc, they would follow this up with looking at the law firm website.
Your website helps to transform those clicks into business and revenues.
Website Design and Development Guide: 2021
DIY or Professional?
The first thing you need to firm up on is whether you’d farm out the project of building a website to a professional firm, or you’d like to roll up your sleeves and get to work on it yourself.
No doubt there are plenty of helpful tools available such as WordPress, JurisPage, LawLytics, etc that allow you to set up your own law firm website at a nominal cost.
While DIY does have its merits, in this case, you could fall seriously short of expectations. A professionally designed website incorporates the right site architecture and design elements. For a reasonable fee, a skilled and experienced website design expert can create a unique, functional website, leaving you free to focus on your core competencies and your legal work.
You will have to focus on certain key areas while working on your website with a professional designer:
- Training and support for your staff
- Content updation
- Software and security updates
- Responsive design
- Domain ownership
Apart from these, get a firm contract on pricing, who exactly will be working on it, regular communication, privacy and confidentiality.
You may have to shop around to find a designer/design firm that is in sync with your time availability, budget, has experience with working on law firm website design and the corresponding skills and knowledge.
While selecting the overall look and feel of your website, ensure that it is in sync with what a professional law firm would convey. Designers must ensure the right kind of font, typography, colors and placement. Don’t under-estimate the value of white space and classic color schemes.
These elements should align with your brand, services and image. Try to use original photos and avoid stock images if your budget permits.
It’s also important to ensure that your website can be accessed by persons with disability such as low vision or color blindness.
Ensure that images and graphics don’t slow your site down. Slow page speeds lead to higher bounce rates and can drive potential clients away. You can avoid this by using tools such as Gzip, reducing redirects, optimizing code, using browser caching, improving server response time, etc.
Use videos, podcasts, white papers, etc. to good effect.
Since 2016, laptops and desktops have fallen way behind compared to mobile phones as the preferred device for browsing and availing of products/services.
Today, Google evaluates mobile friendliness as a key parameter for search engine rankings. The main issue is the small screen-size that impacts scrolling on mobile phones.
Responsive design is a must-have on your website design to-do list.
appeals to a wider range of visitors. Complex design and complicated navigation can frustrate people and cause them to leave. Worse still, they may report this on social media reviews.
The typical 5-page website format is familiar and comfortable, so keep it that way, with added pages according to your requirements, preferences and budget.
Include vital information such as your phone number, location, etc. prominently in all your pages.
A key driver that encourages organic traffic is SEO or search engine optimization. It is a complex process and contains several diverse elements.
One of them is knowing exactly what keywords or search terms potential clients/visitors would use to find your firm on the net. This would sync with your areas of practice such as Family Law, Patent Law or Personal Injury etc.
Ensure that you have access to a regular supply of fresh, original, well-crafted and relevant content that is optimized with the right keywords and search terms.
This helps to create a buzz on social media, build links and leads and spread your message far and wide, enhancing your brand value and reputation.
Know your readers, keep it simple and useful with enough takeaways for the average reader and provide a clear call to action at strategic points.
Free consultation offers or an FAQ section, chat bots, virtual assistants, etc. adds value and can transform clicks to revenue.
Label your links and URLs in a simple, easy-to-find way.
Testimonials and client reviews should be genuine and prominently available to boost business in your geographic location.
Well-organized drop-downs on the Services/Practice Areas tabs, good internal navigational linking on your landing page, with strategically place above-the-fold content can go a long way in making your website a winner.