The design of your website is extremely important for generating sales (“conversions” in marketing speak). Lawyers who do not have a well-designed layout will not get as many forms filled-out, as many phone calls or as much credibility as their competitors who may have better designed websites. Whether you’re re-designing, starting a new site or you’re just curious about what really makes a high-converting website, check out these 7 tips of good law firm web design.
Use a CMS
I personally recommend WordPress, but there are other CMS (Content Management Systems) out there as well. A WordPress CMS provides a lot of benefits to lawyers for website design and beyond.
- It’s easy to make a professional website without coding knowledge.
- WordPress has tons of great plugins that add powerful functionality to your site.
- There are loads of tutorials, articles and other resources available about the platform.
- There is no shortage of attractive, inexpensive themes.
- If you are half-way tech savvy, you can probably set up your website on your own.
- It’s easy to add and/or update content.
- It’s a very stable CMS.
So, don’t let the tech talk fool you. WordPress is very easy to use, and is the gold standard for a reason.
Aside from building your site, WordPress makes it extremely easy to update content, create a site structure and add functionality. See a contact form that you really like? You may be able to replicate it via a plugin in a matter of minutes. Need to add a page? It’s as easy as a few clicks and putting in the content (sort of like typing in a Word document). WordPress has made professional and low maintenance websites attainable for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection.
Keywords and Content Umbrellas
At the time of this writing, more than 70% of people using the Internet leverage a search engine to find what they are looking for online. Attorneys conducting business online need to get found organically, and that means adding best practice optimization elements to your website. Use keywords on your pages and organize your content under a main theme or umbrella. Remember, Google is a relevance-based search engine. By making yourself more relevant, you’ve won half the battle.
Lawyers should perform some basic keyword research to find out what terms they should be targeting for their specific location and practice area. They should then decide what the overall theme of their site is going to be. Each page of the site should be a sub-category of that theme and should be optimized to target a specific keyword phrase. For example, a personal injury lawyer might have personal injury law as the over-arching theme to their site and sub-categories would be medical malpractice, car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, etc.
Organizing a website in this way not only makes it easier for users to navigate (a plus for SEO), but it also makes it easier for search engines to index and serve the content. When content is logically organized, users stay longer because things are easier to find; this sends good signals to search engines.
People like to feel warm, comfy and secure. Online, this notion is even more important because anyone can “look” professional and reputable. Attorneys should work on gathering social proof that they can display on their website. For example, badges, accreditations, memberships and awards are all forms of social proof that validate a lawyer. Users who come to an attorney website that have these forms of social proof can trust that the content they are seeing is reputable and trustworthy. This ultimately leads to more conversions as opposed to a site that may not have any social proof and people are left to wonder if a lawyer is credible or not.
Here are some methods of improving social proof for lawyers:
- Badges – Super Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates, Avvo Top Contributor, etc.
- Local BBB Rating
- Testimonials (on-site)
- Case Results
- Reviews (off-site)
- As seen in… (media logos)
Lawyers should display their badges, affiliations and awards prominently on their home page or somewhere users will see them. Social proof helps build credibility not only with potential clients but also with fellow colleagues.
Schema is a method for making content machine-architecture more understandable. There are many different kinds of schema and Google recommends using Microdata or Hcard. Lawyers should markup content like addresses, phone numbers, emails, articles, reviews and other types of content on their sites.
This helps search engines understand and render content more easily in search results pages. There is even Microdata and other schema specific to attorneys. Lawyers can insert schema manually into their HTML or use a handy markup generator. Google even provides a data highlighter within Google Webmaster Tools which requires no knowledge of code at all.
Highly Visible CTAs
Calls-to-action (CTA) are language prompting users to do something. For example, “call no for a free consultation”, “join our subscriber list” and “contact us here for a free case review” are all CTAs. Attorneys should make these CTAs highly visible on their website. Phone numbers should be located in a prominent position on the page as well as CTAs prompting people to take action.
Buttons should have action language on them related to whatever the action is. For instance, subscribe buttons could read “subscribe now”. Sometimes, we have to tell our visitors what to do in order for them to execute a proposition.
Keep Actions Above The Fold
Lawyers should not make their visitors dig for the information they are looking for. If there is something that you want users to do, make it as easy and obvious as possible. Keep content like CTAs, phone numbers and other important items above the fold or the point at which a user would have to scroll to see more content. When people are online, they are impatient and want to find the information they are looking for as fast as possible. People are also easily distracted on the internet, so you have to keep them focused. Keeping things front and center allows users to do that head-ache free.
Break Up Text and Reduce Clutter
It’s easy to forget that when people are researching attorneys online or looking for legal information, they don’t necessarily want wade through tons of text. At the same time, lawyers need to balance the need for long-form content for search with the equally compelling goal of keeping users on their site.
Break up text with imagery or bulleted lists. This makes paragraphs shorter and easier to digest. When lines are shorter, and when there is more white space among words, people are more likely to read your content.
Lawyers should also resist the urge to clutter up pages with too much information, imagery and or functionality. This is especially important on pages where a user is being directed to take some sort of action, like filling out a form. If there is too much clutter on the page, the action gets lost or users get distracted and go somewhere else. Remember, it’s not exactly what design you think is best; it’s what is best for the visitor.
An excellent book on designing for conversions and making sure your web page layout isn’t frustrating your users is called Don’t Make Me Think. It’s a short read and gives tons of useful information on what to do and what not to do when it comes to design and user experience.
Make sure you follow these common conventions for web design:
- Build an easy-to-use website on a CMS like WordPress.
- Include a main theme and keywords you want to rank for.
- Add in some sort of social proof.
- Leverage attorney schema.
- Make CTAs highly visible.
- Keep content above the fold.
- Reduce clutter by breaking up text.
The placement of elements and organization of content on your website is really important for accomplishing business goals. Whatever those goals are, let the design of your website work toward accomplishing them. Design to win!
Chris is the power behind AttorneyRankings.org