What does your firm’s website say about you?
Is your law firm website design responsive, easy to navigate, and visually inviting? Does it emphasize your qualifications and recommendations from clients and peers? Is it clear to visitors that your results speak for themselves? And if they’re checking your site from a mobile device, is it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for?
These are some questions that a firm’s website should be able to translate into visuals. When you’re interested in a product/service and want to know more information. More often than not, one of the first places you begin to search is online. Once you’re online, it’s a whole different ball game.
On one hand, search engines will provide relevant information that’s most suitable for your search intent. On the other, businesses trying to rank on the first page combine all their marketing efforts to rank. From SEO and keyword optimization to website design and development. This is true specifically within the legal sector. The ABA states that 87% of responding lawyers of their 2020 Survey Report have a website. However, fewer than 20% of the respondents had a website with the following:
- Community announcements
- Paralegal profiles
- Court/ administrative links
- Consumers guides
- Staff profiles
- Outside legal articles
- Outside guides/forms
What does this say about law firms’ website design? With this one statistic alone, it’s clear to see that although most firms are opting for digital efforts, few include critical information.
However, when a website’s design is created with purpose, it pays off (perhaps even more than you might think!) Some of the benefits of having a firm web design include:
- Reaching new customers you might have otherwise missed
- Strengthening branding
- Showcasing the points of difference
- Providing the best user experience
- Making you reachable on many channels and platforms
- Enhancing credibility
- Positioning your firm as legal experts
With our guide, we hope to arm your firm with the most accurate and specific information in regards to:
- Why do firms need quality web design
- Ethical Digital Marketing considerations (Legal Sector)
- Must-have pages
- Top design elements
- Top writing tips
- Visual samples
- And more!
Here are some of our own examples:
Before diving deeper into aspects of web design, guidelines and development, let’s look into the benefits of a great website for your firm.
How Website Design Can Grow Your law Firms
Within the practice of the law, there are other critical functions to acquiring clients. One of them is digital marketing. In here, there’s a wide range of efforts you could apply to your firm but perhaps the best choice to start off is with a web design. Without it, other marketing efforts like SEO fall short.
Firms that decide to invest in a website guarantee the following:
- Making the most of digital marketing, “the new growth engine.”
- Many Law Firms have realized that face-to-face sales have lost impact due to factors like the 2019 pandemic. It’s a fact, online sales and services will keep on growing in the years to come.
- Targeting high-quality leads thanks to data-driven marketing.
- It is no surprise there’s a saying that states, “data is the new oil.” It really is. Firms leveraging data from their website and tools like Google Analytics can make better decisions, faster.
- Building and maintaining your firm’s reputation with branding.
- Strong branding helps firms stand out. This is important because not all firms cater to all types of prospects looking for firms. Branding helps you resonate with the right audience and vice versa.
- Signaling search engines to rank you.
- Great web design converts. It not only showcases your personality to users. It also works hand-in-hand with SEO to signal search engines like Google.
- Showcasing your firm’s expertise.
- Does your firm specialize in a specific practice area? Is there a niche market you focus on? To stand as an authoritative figure, the website should translate this level of expertise into its content.
- Saving time.
- Every minute of your day counts, so what does this have to do with building a website? Well, there’s more than meets the eye. A great website helps save users time. In theory, it should offer valuable information in visible locations. e.g. directions, opening hours, live chats, etc.
- Saving money!
- Think about it, what are users consuming the most? What do they interact with the most on a daily basis? The statistics show that traditional media generates 50% fewer interactions than digital marketing.
Ethical Considerations For Your Law Firm Website
The American Bar Association was founded with the sole purpose of “defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.” With that said, when it comes to creating content it’s smart to follow advertising guidelines and ethical practices ABA states. The following are some website design guidelines for attorneys:
- ABA Rule 7.1 Information about your Legal Services
- Lawyers shouldn’t make false or misleading communications about their services. It’s considered false if the material omits certain parts to make a statement appear as the whole truth.
- ABA Rule 7.2 Communications concerning a Lawyer’s Services
Lawyers cannot imply they’re specialists unless he has been certified as a specialist by an organization approved by :
- State or federal authority
- The District of Columbia
- A U.S. territory or the American Bar Association
- The certifying organization is clearly stated
Since the start of the pandemic pushed many law firms to operate virtually. Due to this, the ABA decided to issue two formal opinions in hopes of providing guidance in the remote legal landscape.
Formal Opinion 495 – Lawyers may remotely practice the law of jurisdictions in which they’re licensed while being physically present in a jurisdiction in which they aren’t admitted. This guideline stands as long as attorneys do not hold themselves as being licensed in that specific local jurisdiction and do not advertise, offer, or hold an office in the jurisdiction.
Formal Opinion 498 – When practicing virtually, lawyers must consider their ethical duties regarding competence, diligence, and communication when using technology. Lawyers should take reasonable efforts to prevent unauthorized disclosure of information.
So, what do these two formal opinions have to do with your firm’s website?
According to the ABA Rule 5.5 Unauthorized Practice of Law. Lawyers shall not practice in a jurisdiction that violates the legal profession in that jurisdiction.
However, ABA states that attorneys do not actually violate this rule through remote work. Unless the lawyer represents the public where they’re unlicensed. To clearly communicate the jurisdictions between remote and practicing law; it’s best to emphasize a firm’s jurisdiction via their website.
Now that we’ve gone over the ethical best practices when marketing your firm’s website; let’s look into the actual pages your firm needs.
The essential pages law firm websites need
A lawyer’s website is an extension of his firm’s personality. It should showcase who you are, what you offer, and what makes you different from other firms. What’s more, it should provide a line that’s connecting you to the ideal clients and vice versa
When implementing all the best design practices, your website can help convert users into calls and cases. However, great website design for attorneys is more than just choosing a color scheme and calling it a day (even though this is also important!) It’s dynamic and should constantly evolve to meet the clients where they currently are.
With that said, a successful law firm website should include the following main pages:
*Please note: For the sake of interpreting the web design concepts with ease, we’ll be providing visual examples using two of our clients as examples:
If you’re ever curious about the rest of our work then feel free to head to our Consultwebs’s portfolio of law firm websites!
This is the page. The homepage section is the page that probably most users will see first. This page should tell everyone who your firm is and what you offer. This page should be intriguing and visually captivating. It should also include:
- Calls to action
- Captivating images/ videos
- Social Proof and other success indicators.
- Menu bar
- Features/ Benefits
- Contact information
Here’s an example of the previous homepage features which can be found on Jebaily Law Firm’s Homepage:
About Us/ Our Firm Page
At the end of the day, people do business with people. For this reason, it’s critical the ‘About Us’ page showcases the journey and human side of your firm. Don’t be afraid to include the story behind the creation of your firm, what drives your firm, who you are and the points of differences.
Here’s a visual example of the Abous Us:
Lawyer Biographies/ Educational Background Page
Is your team the dream team? This is where you can showcase it. Lawyer biographies are a must. Why you may ask? Remember the ethical rule ABA Rule 7.2 Communications concerning a Lawyer’s Services stated before? In short, it states the following. Attorneys must show their certifications, educational background, and other forms of verifications. They need to prove they’re specialists; more so if they are going into a specific practice area.
Here’s an example of a firm ‘About Us’ showcasing the attorney’s photo and biography. Plus points for them for showcasing their one and only canine executive officer, Rocky!
If a user clicks on one of the attorney’s photos they will find a section with a dropdown menu that displays their:
- educational background
- professional associations
- awards and community involvement.
Here’s the visual representation of the educational background:
People looking for a firm’s services need quick answers, solutions and details and this is where the practice area page comes in handy. Here, firms can highlight the legal services and explain in-depth details about the different practice areas there are.
Below you can see a snippet sample of Jebaily’s Practice Area pages:
When clicking on the practice area page for personal injuries, you’re able to find details about this area. You will also find additional information such as calls to action, forms, and more information.
Besides sharing areas of expertise, it’s also helpful when firms share their knowledge and that’s possible with a blog section. This add-on is helpful because it allows you to control your own voice and it also helps position your firm as a thought leader. If we look at the blog section , it’s clear that they are providing answers as well as sharing news. Here’s a snippet sample:
Remember when we mentioned, people do business with other people? Well, in addition to that people trust other people’s opinions online (even if they are strangers!) Just think back to the countless reviews you’ve personally read and trusted in your buying decision-making process. The same applies to law firms.
Adding testimonials and reviews builds on trust and credibility. These are words coming from the most important influencer you could have, your customers. Having this form of social proof and not showcasing it is like sitting on a gold mine, really. According to statistics, websites with testimonials see a 45% increase in traffic compared to those with no testimonials.
Some of your website visitors will want to contact your firm to ask questions or better yet, they might be ready to become customers. The “Contact Us” page is One of the pivotal pages to convert a visitor into a lead. Some of the first actionable steps they need to take include booking, calling, and/or email your firm.
By providing all this information on one page you are reducing the time it takes for users to contact you.
Check out this Contact Us page sample below:
The top law firm’s web design elements
Let’s start with a quick food for thought: in the sea of sameness, how can your firm’s website stand out from the competition? A viable option is by adding the most captivating visuals.
Although there’s the saying we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the truth is that for users looking at a website; this rule doesn’t apply. The visitors will judge your website by its cover and they’ll do so in seconds or even less than a second. According to statistics, it only takes 50 milliseconds (less than a second!) for users to form an opinion about your website. This can determine whether they’ll stay or leave.
It’s clear to see that the power of visuals is no joke. On this premise, the following are design elements that can boost your firm’s aesthetics and usability.
1 – Simplicity
A firm’s web design should keep the UX (user experience) top of mind. Users are looking to take some form of action like learn more, read more, call now, watch, etc. With that said, the most fitting thing to do is to keep things simple. Avoid adding all the different calls to action at once as it may distract the user from the most important actions.
2 – Visual hierarchy
Visual hierarchy refers to arranging and organizing the web design elements. These are laid out in a way that makes users naturally gravitate towards certain elements first. This is possible through visual hierarchy elements such as the following:
- Sizing and scale – anything you scale larger will attract more attention.
- Balance and symmetry: We are naturally attracted to symmetry. By adding a form of symmetry, you can have a geometrical balance on your website. You can also lack balance on purpose and give it a more flexible flow.
- Colors – There’s a reason why certain businesses lean towards certain colors; there’s science behind colors. For web design for lawyers, the colors blue gives the signal of professionalism, power, security, and success.
There are two viewing patterns that affect the visual hierarchy of the human eye:
- 1. The Z pattern – This works best for content that doesn’t have too much content and/or images.
- 2. The F pattern – This works best for text-heavy content pages e.g. blog posts.
3 – Navigability
Navigability is what helps users get from point A to B fast. As a rule of thumb, the visitors coming in should be able to land on your homepage and know which clear steps to follow.
Here are some of the best navigability tips and tricks:
- Add a navigation bar at the foot of your pages.
- (If possible) include a search bar so users can easily type their search query.
- State the offer(s) clearly.
- Keep a clear structure – think back to component 1, simplicity.
- Create a sitemap, this will give your firm an overview of the main page and subpages. Here’s a sitemap example:
4 – Consistency
Your firm’s web design can have many creative design layouts. Yet, to create a consistent branding the pre-defined components in background, colors and tone of voice should remain consistent.
5 – Responsivity
Responsiveness can make or break it for the visitors. According to statistics, 93% of people leave a website if it doesn’t properly display on mobiles. To decrease the bounce rate and retain more visitors, your firm has to provide the best user experience with a responsive website. This means it’s compatible with the different devices: desktops, tablets, and mobiles.
Here’s an example of our homepage being responsive. You can see it adjusts either to desktop or mobile:
6 – Accessibility
According to the (WCAG) Website Content Accessibility Guidelines, your website must include the following:
- Perceivable: Visitors are clear about your site’s content.
- Operable: This ties back to navigability. In other words: does the user have a clear path in their experience?
- Understandable: Clarity will always win. The best advice here is to avoid legalese and legal jargons that your prospects and clients won’t understand.
- Robust: Your site is responsive on all devices.
7 – Conventionality
One would think that conventionality kills originality; however, this is far from the truth. Although users want to have a unique experience, they also need and follow certain web usability standards.
The following are some basic norms most (if not all) lawyer website designers use in web design:
- Placing the navigation bar at the top.
- Placing the logo at the top left.
- Making the logo clickable and redirecting the user back to the homepage.
- Add buttons that change color when the user hovers on them.
8 – Credibility
Showcasing credibility is a must for firms because prospects looking for law firms want and need to know they are in the hands of the best of the best. People coming in with legal issues are facing a lot of stress and pressure and the first thing they’ll need is a firm that’s problem-solving oriented. One way to fortify this is through credibility.
Credibility helps ideal clients understand what you have done for others and even more, what it is that you can do for them. You can showcase this with:
- The FAQ page: Answering the top questions e.g. what’s a contingent fee?
- Videos: If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what a video is worth! Visitors today want visuals like videos because they give the business a face. They show the human side and provide valuable information. e.g. Telling the successful story of a past case.
- Blogs: Remember that clients are looking for answers. By having a blog section you can position yourself as an authoritative figure in all things legal and provide information in areas such as: updates in a certain practice area, news, changes in policies, etc.
9 – User-Centricity
At the end of the day, your firm’s website design should always keep the user top of mind. So, how can you test the user-centricity? To avoid biases when ranking your firm’s design, make use of the following tools:
- Crazy Egg: Track multiple domains and discover how your site’s performance is through intelligent tools like heatmaps.
- Mouseflow: This analytics tool records the visitors’ experience on-site and thus helps the process of identifying patterns and trends e.g. where do they interact the most/least?
- HotJar: This offers all-in-one analytics: from heatmaps, visitor recordings to feedback polls and surveys. In return, this tool aims to help businesses identify confusing areas, remove what doesn’t work, and enhance what does.
Have you got a vision for your firm? We have a design.
We want to end our guide with food for thought, what does your firm’s website design say about you? No matter what the answer may be, the overall design should help fortify the answer to this question.
As more firms continue to opt-in on implementing design to communicate important information, can firms like yours stay ahead of the curve? 100%. It’s possible to stay ahead of the curve without the headaches if you opt in and hire law firm digital marketing professionals and have them do it for you. Why is this the best option?
- Save yourself the headaches and pains of having to research and then implement it all. Instead, think of what you could be doing with all this valuable time? Perhaps attend to more calls and cases!
- Guarantee your website is translating all the points of difference and most importantly, that it is converting visitors into customers. We know all the latest technical ins and outs needed in order to have the most unique yet converting looking website.
- Building and fortifying your firm’s branding is possible with a robust website. Remember: your website is an extension of your firm’s personality.
- Maintaining your website is a must, and that is possible with a team of experts. Because a website isn’t a one-time and done-deal; sticking with a team that’ll actively and consistently maintain your firm’s branding is vital.
- Reaching customers where they are today – online. Customers are out there ‘Googling’ firms like yours. Will you be there?
While we have been able to provide a complete law firm website guide, trying to implement all the aforementioned with a DIY approach can be costly and time-consuming.
For this reason, we would like to extend a helping hand. Would you like to know more? Want to know how this applies to your firm’s website? Have any other questions or thoughts you’d like to share? Ready to take the next steps? We’re all ears. Let’s have a chat and strategize a plan to set you firm up for success.