5 Tips for a Successful Law Firm Website

by Brandie Knox on April 9, 2012

As quoted from a January article on Inc. Magazine’s website, “When it comes to bringing in revenue and making headlines, law firms do a hell of job. The biggest ones bring in millions, even billions of dollars. They argue before the Supreme Court. They help shape global economies.  When it comes to designing websites, though, these firms are clueless. These are the folks who often charge upwards of $1,000 per hour for their services, and yet their websites look like the work of some cut-rate freelance designers.”

You can read the full article here. The article provides several examples of bad, as well as good, law firm websites.

In response to the article mentioned above and as a follow-up to my NYLMA News article last quarter, Successful Website (Re)Design, focusing on process, below are five considerations for better design. While some of what I point out may seem obvious, many sites are doing a poor job.

Differentiate.

What is your firm’s unique selling point? Make your message distinct. Make your site memorable. If you are an international law firm, your competitors are likely international as well – this is not a differentiator.

Create compelling content.

What is it your audience wants to see? Content sells. Make it compelling and easy to find. Hire a copywriter to help develop and articulate your message in a way that entices your audience to read on.

Highlight experience: A client or prospect that goes to your firm’s site wants to see your firm’s experience within the various practice areas and industries. Include recent developments and deals that showcase that experience.

Allow for flexibility in attorney bios: Attorney bios are often very rigidly structured. Allow attorneys room for differentiation so they can highlight both their individual experience and personalities. Consider allowing attorneys to include personal LinkedIn and Twitter links. It is really about relationship building, right?

Integrate social media: Provide users with reasons to frequently visit your firm’s site. Do not wait for your audience to take initiative. The following methods are simple ways to increase visibility and drive traffic to your site:

  • RSS sign-up for new posting alerts
  • The “share” feature that allows users to easily share your content via a variety of outlets including email, LinkedIn and Twitter, among others
  • Disseminate new updates via LinkedIn and Twitter

Above all, make sure the site’s content is frequently updated.

Avoid clutter.

What are the key areas your audience will want to visit? Make sure your navigation is clear and concise. Use layout and design to give emphasis to those areas on the home page. Key content should be readily available and non-competing with other page elements. Navigation should be intuitive.

Reconsider your firm’s use of visuals.

If your firm uses photography on the site, what are the images communicating? Do they support the content? If your website is chock-full of stock imagery that does not support your message, then reconsider. (Gratuitous and generic stock photography can also be expensive and can take up valuable page real estate.) Consider other options for supporting your firm’s message – you can do this through the use of color and typography, illustration or information graphics. If photography is desired, then hire a photographer to capture your message or use fewer but more compelling rights-managed stock images.

Simplify the call to action.

An intuitive process of finding information on your site will increase the chances of your prospect picking up the phone or emailing. Forms are a good way for your audience to request specific information or sign-up for mailing lists, but avoid the use of contact forms elsewhere. Forms are impersonal and require too much effort on the user’s end. Allow a prospect or client the option of sending a personal email to an associate or partner.

Brandie Knox is Creative Director & Principal at knox design strategy. As a strategic design studio, knox design strategy focuses on professional services firms, with expertise in the legal industry. She can be reached at brandie@knoxdesignstrategy.com

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