People make decisions online, and your website is often your clients’ first point of contact with your law firm. If you don’t have a compelling online presence, your potential clients will pick lawyers who do.
When I speak of compelling websites, I don’t just mean design and aesthetics. Your page should be informative and easy to navigate. Most importantly, it should urge your website visitors to book a consultation with your firm and make it easy for them to reach out to you right when they make that decision.
What I’m describing is a marketing funnel – the client’s journey towards the purchase of a service. For lawyers, a good website is often a central component of the marketing funnel. As such, it’s pivotal to landing new files. A good website can make a big impact on your bottom line, so the importance of getting web design right should not be underestimated.
To help you build a functional and effective website, I put together a list of 10 web design best practices for lawyers. Checking all of these boxes will help you reach new leads and expand your client base.
Let’s get started.
10 law firm web design best practices
1. Know your audience
Before you set out to build a new website, you have to understand your audience: who they are and what needs they are bringing to the table.
As a lawyer, you likely already know your clients well based on your experience. Organize this knowledge into client personas. Create a few hypothetical profiles that represent the different types of clients you deal with. Write down their characteristics – focus on their needs, expectations, backstories.
When designing your website and writing web copy, make sure that you are catering to your personas. Explicitly addressing their pain points will help you come across as the perfect fit for their legal needs.
2. Settle on consistent branding
Building a new website is a great time to review and assess your branding. Has it been consistent across the board? Maybe it needs a refresh?
Everything about your brand, including your voice and the colours and imagery you pick for your site, should be representative of your firm. Your website’s aesthetics have to be aligned with who you’re targeting. For example, if you practice family law, go for an empathetic tone and family-focused imagery. If you specialize in commercial and business litigation, a more polished and professional look is expected.
3. Humanize your design
People connect with people. And your clients will have to trust you with their problems. No one feels comfortable establishing that kind of personal relationship with a stranger.
While legal proceedings are always somewhat stressful, you can take some of the edge off by letting your clients know who you are before they even reach out. Make sure to include a bio section with a photo on your website. List your accolades, but don’t forget to add in a few words about who you are on a personal level. Make it clear that you are empathetic and that it is your goal to guide your clients to the best possible outcome of their legal issues.
4. Share a lot of content
Content is key for both SEO and conversions. It’s the data that Google’s spiders process when crawling the web. Based on Google’s analysis, your website ranks high or low – or doesn’t rank at all – in search results. That’s why relevant and well-optimized content is necessary for building an organic online presence.
But once you do show up in search results and users click through to your site, content is what they see. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they will leave and move on to your competitors.
Make sure that your website is rich in content. Describe your firm, introduce your lawyers, write persuasive calls to action, share useful resources. An ongoing blog strategy will help you consistently expand on relevant topics and surface on more organic search result pages.
5. Make it easy to get in touch with your law firm
Remember, your website is just a touchpoint for potential clients – the ultimate goal is to convert website visitors into leads and, eventually, clients.
Make sure that website visitors can easily reach out to you at any point of browsing your site. An easily accessible contact section is a must, but consider also adding a CTA (call to action) with your contact information on every page within your site. The fewer steps it takes for a potential client to give you a call or schedule a consultation, the lower the chances that they will drop out along the way.
6. Share testimonials and user reviews
Client testimonials and positive reviews are a form of social proof. Displayed on your website, they show new visitors that your law firm is legitimate and effective.
Building reviews and testimonials into the design of your site can work wonders because clients are more likely to believe your reviewers – real people with similar problems – than your carefully crafted, all-positive website copy or advertising.
7. Don’t overcomplicate things
Remember that you are the law expert, not your clients. Your typical client will have a solid understanding of their problem and desired outcome but little knowledge about the legal strategies and processes that can take them there.
Make sure that you’re speaking your clients’ language. Going heavy on legalese can intimidate your website visitors and make them look for help elsewhere. Focus your website copy on how you work with clients and what outcomes you can achieve for them, and save the intricacies for the actual consultations.
8.Optimize for site speed
Poor site speed can be the demise of an otherwise good website. As a ranking factor, site speed can affect how your site performs in organic search. If your website is slower than your competitors’, you will rank lower than them in Google, plain and simple.
But site speed is not just an SEO metric – it also heavily affects the way users behave on your site. Pages that take longer to load tend to have a higher bounce rate (the rate of users who leave a page immediately after visiting, without interacting with any of the content).
This is bad for two reasons. First, users don’t stay on your site long enough to become interested in your services and you lose potential leads. Second, pages with high bounce rates rank lower in organic search results.
If you want your target audience to actually read your content, move down the marketing funnel, and eventually book a consultation with you, you have to design a positive user experience for them. Get rid of large images or videos that might be affecting your loading speed and ask your web developer to review the back end of your website. Unnecessary large files and scripts are the most common cause of site speed issues, and cutting them out can make a mark on your performance.
Remember – a simple but functional website is going to work better for you than an intricate design that takes forever to load.
9. Monitor your performance
Setting up a fast, user-friendly, effective website is a tall order in itself. But proper upkeep is just as important.
Sometimes even small changes to the back end of your site can generate issues that may compromise the usability of your website and your performance in organic search. If you want to ensure consistently high performance, monitor your website on an ongoing basis. Weekly Search Console check-ins will help you identify and address potential problems before they do too much harm. Look for coverage issues and warnings, and work on fixes as soon as a new problem is detected.
10. Don’t overpay
A good website shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. At the end of the day, it’s supposed to generate new business for you, not drain your wallet.
If you’re not sure how to find a trusted website developer who won’t overcharge, start with thorough research. Once you get multiple quotes, you will have a good idea of the average market rate in your area and you will be able to make a more informed decision.
The most budget-friendly way to go is hiring a digital marketing agency. Specialized legal marketing agencies like our own have vast experience in building websites for lawyers and will often have a portfolio of proprietary website templates that you can customize to make your own. Using a template cuts the development time and costs, and it provides you with a design that has been thoroughly tested and is proven to work.
Need help building a winning website for your law firm?
If you are interested in building a new website but don’t know where to start, we’re here for you! Our team of leading web designers, content writers, and SEO experts can help you plan and implement complete cost-effective strategies that will boost your online presence and help you attract new clients to your firm.
Soulpepper Legal Marketing has helped numerous law firms of different sizes and budgets succeed, and we look forward to helping you grow your firm! Give us a call or get in touch via our contact form to see what we can do for you.