To be effective and generate leads, a law firm’s website needs to adhere to design rules & norms, that help it convert visitors to clients. Sometimes, the best way to learn how to win a game, is to first learn how to break the rules.
TL;DR – Watch our VP of Business Development present this article in the link above.
In the spirit of learning how the rules of web design are bent and broken by legal marketers, here are five common mistakes we see in law firm web design.
Lack of CTAs and trust signals on interior pages.
More and more, people are bypassing the homepage, and the first page they land on is an interior page which is focused on a topic they searched for in Google.
This can be a big problem because the homepage tends to be the most sales-focused page on the website. The homepage distills the entire website into a pretty package that includes the unique value proposition (UVP), calls-to-actions, videos, testimonials, results and awards. If users miss the homepage, they may miss out on the sales pitch, why they should hire you.
For this reason interior pages should include strong calls to actions and trust elements just like the homepage.
Every page should be considered a sales page that is focused on converting users into clients.
We often see interior pages that are almost pure text and this is a missed opportunity. If the pages are long, it may help to have multiple calls to action placed within the content along with a closing CTA. Some design elements that convey trust and can help to re-engage users on interior pages are testimonials, awards badges, results, links to the attorney bios and links to related topics.
Color & contrast issues that affect usability.
Improving accessibility and usability by using high contrast text is low hanging fruit. Yet it’s one of the most common problems I see on websites today. High contrast text is not only helpful for the visually impaired, but it’s also helpful for less than perfect outdoor mobile conditions such as sunny or snowy weather, stressful situations, and side-of-road emergencies. Some rules of thumb to keep you text readable:
- Don’t use distracting background images, this can make text difficult to read for visually impaired.
- Super high contrast text can be difficult to read for dyslexic users, avoid 100% black and white combinations. Dark grey is ideal.
- No flashing text or high contrast striped or check patterns for epilepsy.
- Text that is part of a logo or brand name has no contrast requirement.There are two accessibility standards: Section 508, which applies to the public sector, and WCAG 2.0, which applies to the private sector. WCAG 2.0 has three compliance levels: A (minimal), AA (mid-range), and AAA (highest). AA is considered the industry standard.
Try it now. It’s easy test if your text contrast is AA or AAA compliant using this tool: https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/
Not having a clear brand messaging on the homepage.
When people land on your homepage do they know what you do? Do they even know you’re a law firm?
Based on user testing we’ve done in the past few months they may not. Visitors can spend so little time on our homepages that they may not realize what you have to offer. It’s best to have a clear, concise branding message or unique value proposition (UVP), above the fold in easy-to-understand language. It needs to state clearly and succinctly how your firm can help clients and why they should choose your firm.
It can be difficult to step back and and view our website and brand messaging as a potential client or an outsider. We can get caught up speaking in coded language and industry lingo. Simple, everyday language works best. Think of your homepage as a billboard next to a busy highway. People who see it will have a limited amount of time to read and digest what you have to offer before they’ve whisked past down the road with all the other commuters.
Contact forms that are not optimized for usability
Other than getting phone calls, one of the main ways potential clients reach out to us is through contact forms. Drilling down, and designing forms so they are as easy to use as possible is critical for conversions. Some tips for improving contact forms:
- Positioning the label above the form field works best, not beside or within. Placing a label over its input field allows users to see both elements with a single eye movement. Also, if the label is within a field it disappears when the user begins typing and they can forget what the field is for if they are distracted or tabbing through quickly. The label and the text box itself should be large enough to read and tap for easy use on mobile.
- The form fields should be boxed and highly visible. Removing the border, or having only a bottom stroke, for example, removes the immediate recognition that it’s an input field. A bottom border might at first appear to be a separator.
- Submit buttons shouldn’t look like links, and they should not have a pointer cursor. The style of the button is up to you, but they should look like buttons not links. Also, the Submit button’s text is just as important as its style. The button text should describe the action being taken – because it’s an action, it should be a verb. You should try to use as few words as possible because it’s quicker to read. But don’t remove words at the cost of clarity.
Photos of the team and supporting images throughout the website
When potential clients visit our website they want to get to know us. Photography and video is the fastest way to convey warmth and professionalism in web design.
Based on our user research, users can feel intimidated by lawyers. Softening the design with friendly, high quality photos can help put potential clients at ease and make them want to contact your firm over a competitor.
At minimum your website should have a high-quality bio photo of your attorneys. However, to have a web design that stands above the rest and is in the top tier, you should have group photos of your team, exterior and interior photos of your office, and photos of clients working with team members. You should have enough photos that you can add them throughout your website, not just on your Home, About and Bio pages.
It is also helpful to have supporting images on practice area pages. As mentioned above, we often see interior pages that are almost pure text. Breaking up pages that are text heavy with team photos and photos relating to the text is a good idea. Photos can help to open up the design, reducing cognitive load that can wear down users causing them to exit the website.