Summary – Attorney Website Design Guide
This blog article highlights the importance of a good website design for a law firm and how an attorney can achieve it. The blog also throws light on how to hire the best agency for the job.
Law firms should aim for their websites to be functional. For this to happen, websites must be practically designed. When the aim is clear from the beginning, it is easier to look at things objectively. But allowing subjective tastes to enter the picture only hampers the success of the site.
So, what are the things you need to keep in mind while zeroing down on your law firm website design? Let’s first talk about the five practical aspects that will help build a solid attorney website.
5 Aspects of Lawyer Website Design
#1 Developing a Client-Friendly Website Design
Unless you put the needs of your clients and how they can use your website first, you are not approaching website design the right way. The aim of your website should be to educate clients, earn their trust and make it easy for them to reach you. How your website is designed will determine these things.
When your website design instantly offers solutions to prospective clients such that they don’t waste time looking for “ways” to the solutions, you have done your job well. They should be able to instantly connect with you.
How do you make sure this happens? Keeping the following things in mind helps.
- Be objective. Like we said earlier, there is no better way to design a website than doing it objectively.
- Build a Cost-Effective Site. As a lawyer, you should know the benefits of cutting costs wherever possible. In web designing, it takes you a long way.
- Be Reliable. The aim is to make clients trust you. Base the design on science and data, not subjective opinions.
- Be Flexible. Don’t stick to a plan, especially when it’s not working. Be willing to change.
- Be Transparent. Monitor performance continuously. This level of transparency will help identify problems and open opportunities.
When the goal of your attorney website design is to attract new clients, certain best practices must be kept in mind.
- Layout – Choosing where to place the law firm’s logo, contact information (address and phone number), contact forms, videos, images, and text can determine the success of the website.
- Responsive Design – A responsive web design always works to reach more people. The website should automatically adapt its design to any screen or device. Research shows that responsive design is more effective and adaptable than other hyped mobile technologies such as AMP.
- Choice of Colors – A law firm website will invariably be judged by its looks. The colors used on the background and the text will either welcome your clients or drive them away. Certain color combinations work great together, while many simply clash with one another.
- Typography – Every little detail matters. The font style used, and their size and color will impact performance. If prospective clients find it hard to read the text (because they are too small or big), they will move away to your competitor’s site. Your aim should be to have a balance in typography so that it is easy to read the text, even for those with dyslexia or eye-tracking issues.
- Images Used – The type of images you use on the law firm website will make a huge impact on the client’s mind. The visuals should be able to generate both intellectual and emotional responses but must also be easy on the eye. Most importantly the images should be consistent with your overall branding.
- Video – Inserting video content into a website has become important today. But unless they are informative and educational you should avoid them. A well-produced video that doesn’t have any information will not perform as much as a simple, webcam video of you talking directly to your clients. Authenticity is the key here and not the production quality.
- Placement of Menus – Menus should help your visitors navigate from one page to another intuitively. The menus should also be able to tell what information will be found where.
- Use of Animation – Animations is a big no in a law office website design not only because they are unnecessary but also because moving objects can confuse your potential clients. Animations should only be used to make a point and that too rarely.
These are the optimal rules generally followed in law firm website design. These arrangements help prospective clients to navigate around the website easily. These rules also ensure that the design structure remains the same irrespective of the device used. Ultimately, if your goal is to develop a client-friendly website, these rules must be applied.
#2 Positioning the Brand Clearly
Positioning the purpose of your law firm website is what will eventually drive in clients. But what is positioning? It is the process of designing a website in a manner that makes it clear to potential clients what makes your firm different from the rest. To get your brand’s (in your case the law firm’s) positioning right, you must have answers to the following questions –
- What Problems Can Your Law Firm Prevent and/or solve?
- Who Is Your Message Targeted For?
- Where Do You Apply It?
- What Makes You Different from Your Competitors?
When you understand your law firm’s positioning, it becomes easier to design the website.
Moreover, three design variables play an important role in determining the visual perception of your website. They are –
- Your law firm’s logo and its placement,
- Choice of colors throughout the website,
- Images used.
Most lawyers want their website to reflect the unique personality and brand of their law firm. This natural inclination leads them to “custom” website design where taste trumps objectivity. This is a mistake. From the client’s point of view, website design is not the prime driver to your law firm, content is.
Mostly, law firm websites make the mistake of giving undue importance to uniqueness. This we call a mistake not because being unique is a bad thing, but because in its pursuit, objectivity is often compromised. When this happens, it can sabotage your business objectives which in turn means less lead-to-client conversion. So, yes, your website design must be “custom” made but not at the cost of sending the wrong message.
#3 Building a Strong Emotional Connect
When asked, few clients will agree that their emotions played any role in determining their choice of law firm based on the websites they visited. They often give an intellectual justification as to why they chose your law firm after visiting the website. The truth is that their emotions do play a role but at a subconscious level. So, what are these emotional drivers? Let’s have a look.
- Self-esteem – Law firm websites that make prospective clients feel better about themselves tend to attract more clients. But if the opposite happens, it can drive them away.
- Security – Clients are more likely to contact law firms that have secured websites. If a website makes the client feel vulnerable, they are going to look for a solution elsewhere.
- Trust – A law firm website needs to come across as trustworthy as that helps potential clients lean towards you. If they feel that you care, accept their problems as your own, they are more likely to get in touch with you.
For your potential clients to subconsciously use their emotions to choose your law firm website, the design plays a very crucial role.
Certain website design elements can influence emotions. They are –
- Prominent use of local images,
- Sharing a glimpse of your office through images,
- Purportedly placing images of your attorneys and other team members without them overwhelming the visuals of the website.
- Using images of fictional clients and sometimes even real ones to help potential clients feel connected.
While many positive influences subconsciously help clients accept you, there are certain negative influences that you should avoid.
- Using video backgrounds,
- Placing disoriented and/or complex images,
- Using images of attorneys that send a wrong message,
- Unfriendly office images,
- Unnecessary use of animal images,
- Illustrations and cartoons,
- Fancy visual effects and menu animations.
#4 Forging an Intellectual Connection (Which Makes Sense)
Though subconsciously emotions play a role in making clients contact you, that decision is undoubtedly based on cognitive realities. The prospective clients must notice some logical flag posts that support their decision of reaching out to you. These indicators must be due to the fact that –
- You are a competent authority,
- You have been successful with similar problems, and
- You are known for your understandable nature.
The content on the website should play a major role in influencing decisions. But having said so, the website design must also assist in driving this decision.
You should constantly look out for roadblocks in the website design that stops a potential client from making an intellectual connection. If they can find information easily, they will immediately feel drawn towards you.
Potential clients search not only for attorneys through their websites, but they visit lawyer websites seeking information. Most potential clients have a limited understanding of the law so they want to rely on an authoritative attorney who can understand their problems and solve them. If you can come across as a firm that is competent and reliable, they will be drawn to you. They are looking for serious, intellectual associations.
#5 Defining Conversion Channels
No matter how well you design the law office website, if potential clients cannot find your contact details easily, they will not be compelled to take a desirable action. There is a predictable way in which potential clients act when on a website. That’s why there is a right and wrong place for inserting important details such as an address, phone numbers, email addresses, social media contact buttons, and forms. What also matters is the positioning of these elements and the use of colors, shapes, images, and videos. Websites that maintain uniformity and have a predictable pattern tend to convert visitors more rapidly.
The aim of your website design must be to guide potential clients towards action. Irrespective of where they enter, they should get the impression that you have anticipated their moves and needs and designed the website accordingly. They should be guided around the website in such a manner that they can with certainty (both emotionally and cognitively) be willing to contact you. They shouldn’t feel pressurized into taking such an action.
This conversion path must be based on the following design principles –
- Visual Patterns – Potential clients look for a consistent visual pattern whenever they visit a law firm website. They don’t expect distracting elements to come in the way. Everything from the phone numbers to forms and buttons should be optimally placed that only improve conversions.
- Consistency – Uniformity also steers conversions. Certain information such as contact details, phone numbers, contact forms, and buttons should be placed in the same location on every page. You may alter them only on three pages – the home page, the general contact page, and the office location page. On the latter two, you can include detailed maps and alternatives of your location.
- Be Obvious – Contact information should be visible on every page. The standard rule is to place them “above the fold” but placing them once more below the footer is also standard practice. The idea is to help visitors reach you instantly without having to seek out your contact details.
- Easily Identifiable – Contact information should be visually identifiable. They should be seen.
- Unobtrusive – Though highlighting the contact details is very important, you shouldn’t appear desperate for their attention. Do not overemphasize through design.
- Outlining Outcomes – With certain contact details, the outcome is obvious. For example, when there is a phone number mentioned, the potential client knows that they must dial it or touch upon it (on their smartphones) to call the number. However, when there are forms, chatbots, or buttons, their action isn’t always defined. That’s why labeling them helps. If they know what will happen when they click a button, the likelihood of them taking the desired action is more. Websites that mention how long a potential client must wait to get a response on a form see more people filling them out.
These scientific approaches to conversions not only help visitors but also assist in designing. Working backward from a point of conversion path then becomes easier.
Some specifics that you need to keep in mind to bring uniformity in conversion paths are –
- Address – If you have one physical address of your law firm then it should be prominently displayed in the footer.
- Phone Number – It is advisable to have only a couple of phone numbers displayed on the site. If you have the right phone technology at your office, the call can be redirected to the right office anytime.
- Contact Forms – The purpose of a contact form is to screen potential clients and to reach out only to those that qualify your pre-requisites. Practically, it is better to design a form with fewer fields as then more people are likely to fill them.
- ChatBots – There are a boon and a bane. If used carefully, you can reach the very interested potential client.
- Popup Forms – Ideally law firms shouldn’t have popup forms as they tend to be seen as being too aggressive.
Three Website Design Options That Law Firms Can Explore
Once you understand how important it is to place the various visual elements in their specific spots in a website layout, your next step is to create the website. The question you need to ask at this point is, can I do it myself? Yes, many attorneys prefer to take the DIY route, but that’s not the only option. You can also hire Cyrusson Inc. – a dedicated digital marketing agency to build the website or get any other agency for the job.
Confused about what to choose? Below we shall be discussing the merits of these options so that once you get to hiring someone for the job, you understand your options better.
Option 1 – Hiring A Third-Party Agency for Website Design
One of the most obvious choices that law firms have for website development is hiring an agency. Is that what you should do too? Probably not. There are numerous problems with hiring just any agency for the job.
One of the major issues is pricing. You can hardly be sure if you are over-paying for a service or not. Most agencies tend to use free or cheap templates (that are easily available online), repurpose them using website software such as Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix, and then call it a custom design. Very few build a website from scratch that can meet your requirements.
Moreover, the pricing, in most cases, does not correlate with the quality offered to you. Some simply modify WordPress but overprice for this service. Some though offer an originally developed website, compromise largely on your law firm requirements causing you to miss numerous opportunities in the process.
There is yet another problem in hiring just any agency for website development. Developing a website for lawyers and law firms is drastically different from developing other types of websites. Designs that work well for non-legal services and products do not work for lawyers. Most agencies do not understand the nuanced difference and apply the same rules of design which can be counter-productive for you.
Signing up for a website design service as just a stand-alone option may not work in the long run. This is another thing you must consider before hiring an agency. If the agency simply leaves you with a “completed” website without agreeing to be part of any ongoing maintenance, this means that you will have to pay additionally later. This surely cannot be a satisfactory arrangement in the long run.
Some agencies offer bundled services wherein they don’t just design and develop your law firm’s website but also offer other services such as content creation, additional SEO, PPC, social media management, directory listings, live chat management, and so on. They promise to spread the cost over time, and it seems like a good offer. However, the problem arises when you start noticing long-term performance imbalances because –
- You cannot assess where your monthly spend is going,
- You do not know what you are spending on individual services,
- You do not know which services are working and which aren’t.
- You are not in a position to determine budgets on marketing based on spending.
There is no doubt that the agency model seems attractive, but it can only work when you associate with the right team. Association with an agency simply because they are offering a novel experience may not be the right approach, especially in the long run. So, before you hire an agency, talk to them, ask them a few hard questions, get satisfactory answers, and only then sign on any dotted lines.
Option 2 – The DIY Model
In the Do-It-Yourself model, you make use of a general all-purpose website builder. If you consider yourself to be a tech-savvy lawyer, you can choose to design the website yourself. The DIY method costs the least but consumes a lot of your time, the time you could give to advancing your career as an attorney. Another downside is that not all website builders are designed to help lawyers. So, if you are looking for a law firm-oriented design, you may face disappointment.
Option 3 – Choosing Cyrusson For Law Firm Website Design
Cyrusson Inc. understands the difference between law firm websites and other websites. We are equipped to work according to the niche needs of your law firm. Our learning comes from years of experience working for numerous law firms. It is this learning that has taught us how to design law firm websites that have effective UX but that also comply with the latest web standards and practices.
From assisting in content development (something that is much sought by Google today) to ensure that website development continues over a period, we believe in walking the extra mile for you.
We have a transparent system in place through which every process, every job is logged so that you can assess later. If you are unsatisfied with a service, we are happy to go back and work again. We aim to help you build a solid website that helps reach out to prospective clients and to convert them into permanent customers.
If you are willing to partner with a progressive, law firm-oriented website development team, call us today. Let’s talk about how we can improve your website and drive more business for our firm. We are always available to answer your questions and clear any doubts. The Cyrusson team believes in being open with the clients. We have no time for hush-hush jobs.