Website design for what lawyers want is often at odds with what their clients buying legal services from them want. Having built over 100 law firm websites in recent years as what we call ‘success drivers’ as part of the strategy to help law firms and lawyers achieve their objectives, we have a great deal of experience with this issue. The following outlines and explains three of the key differences.
Before we do so, it’s worth noting that such a dichotomy is nothing new when it comes to online strategy for lawyers. For anyone who follows our team on Twitter or LinkedIn, you may well have seen us re-sharing this popular graphic outlining what lawyers tend to put in their online biographies vs what clients look for in such biographies:-
So with that in mind, here are some of the key differences between lawyer-centric website design and client-centric website design.
1. Pretty Pictures vs Conversion-Focused Website Design
Lawyers tend to focus (and want us to focus) on the imagery on their site more than the conversion-focused design elements that will help convert enquiries. While there’s nothing wrong with getting brand-aligned imagery in place (indeed, with our expertise in legal sector branding we know that this has its place), that’s nowhere near as important as satisfying one of the client’s basic needs – the ability to get in touch with you or your other lawyers quickly and effectively. This consideration is particularly important on mobile – with an increasing amount of lawyer website traffic coming from mobile devices (sometimes more than half of all visits), it’s important that any focus on images doesn’t detract from your clients’ (or potential clients’) ability to get in touch. And for this purpose, the speed of webpages loading may be hindered by too many large images if the proper compression or cropping tools aren’t employed.
2. Less space for content vs more room for great legal information
Some lawyers don’t want to have much room on their website for any decent amount of useful legal content, with one of the main criticisms being that their clients might then learn too much about the law and will then try to solve their case/issue themselves. Our reply to this is that for those few clients who would try to deal with their legal issues themselves, they’d probably do that anyway, regardless of the amount of information you provide. And in any case many of your competitors have already written a and published vast amounts of relevant, useful content already.
When we examined some of the most prominent personal injury law firms online (our clients aside!), we discovered that many of them have hundreds of thousands of words of content published, some with millions of words (enough to populate several tomes). This allows such firms to rank extremely well in Google and other search engines for a vast array of relevant keywords. If your site’s design doesn’t give you the capacity for such content, your competitors will be loving your design team!
3. ‘Too much’ design/functionality vs speed of getting the relevant info fast
Luckily, with the right steering, none of our clients have ever come close to this Oatmeal comic strip of ‘How a website design goes straight to hell’. But on occasion we do see law firm sites that have lost their intended purpose and are crammed with too much design or functionality. Some of the main reasons for this include:-
- Too many lawyers from the firm have been involved in the design feedback process – ‘too many cooks’; or
- One of the firm’s lawyers has decided that there shouldn’t be any white space and that every space needs filled with something; or
- A lawyer has heard other lawyers talking about or using a new cool feature for their firm, rendering it a ‘must-have’ item – an example being law firm apps (the subject of a whole blog in its own right).
The result is usually that the original goal of the website is lost, with the visitor finding it impossible to work out what the firm wants them to do. And in the absence of the visitor being able to find the relevant information they need quickly, they’ll already be on your competitor’s site.
RollOnFriday maintains a useful collection of ‘bonkers sites’, but if you’re looking for one of the best examples of an awful law firm website it should be this one:-
Compare that, for instance, to one of our recent redesigns for Austin Lafferty Solicitors, showcasing one of Scotland’s most prominent lawyers Austin Lafferty on their homepage:-
Helping your lawyers and your law firm succeed
As good as we are with designing websites for lawyers, we don’t consider ourselves to be ‘the website guys’. Creating a robust, high-converting website design for our law firm clients (while avoiding the approaches some lawyers prefer as above) is only one part of our strategy that will help you succeed online. And to ensure this part of the strategy is as good as it can be to help your firm increase your turnover by acquiring more clients, the following process is what we implement for our clients:-
- Strategy / ‘vision’ consultation
It’s imperative at the outset of designing any lawyer’s website that we get to know you, understand your firm in terms of its brand, its value proposition, your business objectives etc. Thinking hard about such objectives is often demanding (indeed our questionnaire helping lawyers think about their objectives before such a consultation now runs to six pages).
2. Design and develop your website as a lead generating asset
When such a consultation happens at the outset, you will be much more likely to get the best possible brand-aligned conversion-focused design for what will become one of your firm’s best online assets, particularly in terms of its ability to generate more leads.
- Ongoing lead generation strategy
After your new website design is built and live, we would turn our attention to developing a programme of inbound lead generation activities aligned with your business objectives, areas of legal practice and locations.
- In-depth regular reporting on analytics
We understand that if our activities aren’t generating new legal enquiries for your lawyers and aren’t making your firm money, you will not want to continue to pay us for very long. With transparency being crucial, not just for you but for our team in helping improve your newly designed site’s performance and your overall online strategy month on month, we provide our clients with an in-depth report every month.
As Chris Davidson notes in his recent blog,
“To us, the website is part of the journey, not the beginning and end of a relationship. One of our longest standing clients uses the analogy of taking delivery of a new website from a previous agency as like being handed the keys to a new car and not being shown where the petrol goes in (there was no mention as to whether the car turned out to be a banger, which I’m sure is very often the case).”
Website design for your firm’s growth strategy
If you’re looking for a new website design that will actually work as part of an overall law firm growth strategy and are looking to build a relationship with a partner willing to invest the time and effort to help your law firm grow, then call Chris on 0333 130 7986 for an informal chat or submit an online enquiry here.
To finish off, here are the thoughts of a client who has been with us since 2013…
“In these challenging economic times it took a leap of faith on my part to pursue this course of action with Moore Legal Technology, but it was a leap that has paid dividends with enquiry levels growing tremendously. It continues to amaze me when I ask new clients where they found us and they reply ‘Google’. In a world where consumers have the choice, Moore Legal Technology has not only assisted in considerably increasing our online presence, they have transformed our investment into pounds and pence coming back into the business. I look forward to working further with MLT.”