Web Design for Law Firms: The Ultimate Guide
We share your enthusiasm for having a website that looks great, but we know it can be so much more than that. Our talent for web design coupled with expert marketing knowledge and legal sector specialism sets us apart from other web design agencies, because our main objective is to generate business for your firm. We want your website to be your best source of new business, and we have the skills to make it happen.
Growing your Firms with conversion-focused web design
Our core business has always been helping law firms grow. The most significant opportunities to do so are online. In today's hyper-connected world, more and more people are using the internet to find a solicitor. If you are not yet generating business through your website (or if you don't yet have one) this guide will help you build a conversion-focused lead-generating asset for your business.
This guide covers the following topics:
- 5 key principles of great web design for lawyers
- Mobile Website Design, including Responsive Website Design
- Choosing a platform to build the site on - your Content Management System
- Web Hosting & Support
- Measuring & Improving Results
1. Don't make visitors think
The attention span of the average person browsing the web today is much shorter than it used to be. Chances are they'll be shopping around to view your competitors and won't stay on your website for very long before they leave unless you make it absolutely clear what you want them to do. Ensure your calls to action (the messages you present to the visitor to tell them what they should do eg call, email, sign up for an email newsletter etc) are in prominent and obvious positions.
2. Make your message clear
Ensure that your key messages (your brand's 'value propositions') are clear. Why should they choose your firm above all others? It's amazing how many small law firms (and sometimes the bigger ones) can't answer this question, even when prompted with a branding questionnaire. Sometimes this exercise takes some deeper reflection on your firm's core strengths, but it's worth it to help you distinguish yourself on your website from the many other firms out there.
3. Publish useful content
As well as making your message clear, you need to provide value to visitors. Publish useful content; educate your website's visitors. The father of modern advertising, David Ogilvy, noted that articles which provide useful free advice will capture 75% more readers than regular articles stuffed with sales messages. Online content marketing wasn't really around in David Ogilvy's time, but the principle of providing great free content is still as relevant as ever. The way we view it is you should be “giving away information snacks to sell knowledge meals."
4. Build trust
Building trust is crucial if you want your website to convert. Online companies are getting smarter; even US-based companies are creating websites to target the UK legal sector and other professional services sectors. But so too are today's consumers. If you can showcase your own expertise and gain credibility through your site you will have a higher chance of converting visitors into paying clients. You can do this through testimonials, 'trust icons' such as Legal 500 or Chambers logos or logos of your industry memberships, or through publishing relevant case studies explaining how you have helped other clients.
5. Keep it simple
Simplicity is best for a high converting website; indeed providing a great user experience will improve your position in search engines also (Google favours sites that are easy to use). Is your content easy to read (not hidden behind a Flash plugin or mostly contained within images or pdfs)? Is your navigation easy to use? Does your site work well on mobile? Is it easy to make an enquiry? All relevant considerations. Getting as many pieces of the jigsaw correct as possible will help you succeed with your website design.
How are you reading this post right now? Are you in work on your laptop? Are you travelling home on the train with your smartphone? Maybe you’re sat on your living room sofa with a tablet computer. Either way, there is no denying the endless amount of devices available today to browse the web.
More than half of all traffic to law firm websites now comes from mobile devices. This is trending upwards and shows no signs of slowing down. Over 24 million people in the UK use a smartphone or tablet PC to access the Internet. Across the world, the number of smartphones will soon overtake the number of people alive. Soon, if you aren't on mobile, you might as well not be online at all.
Smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, always-on, always connected to the internet and are increasingly consulted first when it comes to solving a problem or making a purchasing decision.
So what does that mean for websites today? With the proliferation of mobile devices with an advanced web-browsing capability and so many variants in screen sizes, it draws massive attention to the vital importance of responsive website design.
The first most important part of any website is the content. Content is King. But what’s the use in having perfectly crafted and well thought out content for your website if the user can’t see it easily enough? Content and user experience come hand in hand. You must take into account that the potential clients viewing your website might be using a desktop computer, a smartphone, a tablet or even a smart-TV.
Ensure that your visitors have a positive user-experience and they will be far more likely to do business with you. If your site is not optimised for mobile devices, you are losing potential clients.
A responsive website design simply means a website that has been designed so that all the content, structure, and core functionality will remain consistent over the widest possible range of internet capable devices.
As there are a plethora of web capable devices already available and still ever-increasing: it is a waste of time, money, and effort to build separate sites to target every possible device. Instead, it’s better to let the website respond to its environment and adapt fluidly.
Why should Law firms and businesses adopt a responsive Website Design?
1. User Experience
While content is always king, it is vital to allow your visitors to consume this content through the device of their choosing. Responsive web design creates a positive user experience for people who browse the web on-the-go as well as those who use desktop computers.
2. Increased Sales and Conversion Rates
With no awkward re-directs or broken links to mobile versions of your site, you can now reach more people, more frequently. Now that potential clients can browse your website on their commute home from work using their smartphone – visits to your site will increase and with that will hopefully become an increase in sales too. Combining a positive user experience along with quality content is a perfect way to increase your client list. Having a consistent user experience will evoke a positive effect on your conversion rates. Your visitors will become more familiar with the navigation and site or system use across different devices.
3. Cost Effective
By no longer having to have two different sites - desktop and mobile you should start to see the savings. Responsive web design enhances SEO efforts by having all your visitors directed to a single site no matter what they prefer to use as a device. Why have two separate sites when you can have one that fits all? A single responsive site means one single report on Google analytics. You no longer have to analyse two different tracking reports, this allows for easier monitoring and analysis.
4. Visibility in Search
By having a single responsive website means you can focus all your SEO strategy into the place that matters most. Content is vital when it comes to SEO. Previously you would have had two sites with duplicated content. Now you can focus this quality content into the one site which will give your website a greater chance of getting a higher search engine ranking on Google. Google also tends to favour mobile optimised, responsive sites more prominently in localised search results.
5. Google says yes!
Following on from that last point, Google recommends having mobile phone configuration as ‘industry best practice’. Websites with responsive website design have one URL and the same HTML, regardless of device, this means that it is easier for Google to crawl and index multiple versions of the same site.
In addition, Google favours sites with responsive web design because when content is only one website and one URL, it makes it much easier for users to share, interact with and link to. This creates a better user-experience which Google also takes into account with regards to Search Engine Optimisation.
We can help implement your site in a way that is best for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Galaxy, Android and other devices.
Often, law firms will find it necessary to update content on the go, to add documents or otherwise make tweaks to the site. We recommend using a user-friendly, scalable content management system that offers us all the depth of function we need to create a first-class website, as well as the user-friendliness and accessibility you need to be able to make changes yourself.
A content management system (CMS) that delivers - Joomla, Wordpress, Umbraco, Drupal, Concrete5 or custom CMS for law firm websites?
We use what we believe is the best Content Management System (CMS) for our clients and we don’t charge them to rebuild functionality which already exists. Our CMS of choice for law firm websites is Joomla. This platform is capable of being extended in an enormous variety of ways and this is why we don't employ bespoke developers. It is used by millions of companies around the world including Ikea, Jaguar and Orange and powers many law firm websites. While we have experience with developing, optimising and managing other secure law firm websites on Wordpress, Umbraco, Drupal, Concrete5 and various other CMSs, we find Joomla to be one of the most effective. We strongly recommend against a custom CMS which could tie you into a closed environment where only one company can support it, rather than hundreds of thousands of developers.
Instructing a digital marketing firm or website developer to programme and code a website from scratch is expensive, time-consuming and ties you into dealing with that firm for the site's entire lifecycle. Our content management system is an existing, open-source system that is serviced by a community of thousands of developers. It provides a strong, secure, flexible, scalable platform on which to build your site.
For advice on website builder tools for law firm website creation, see our article here.
What should I look for when choosing a CMS?
The main concerns when choosing a CMS are:
How secure is your data?
Is the platform secure and will regular backups be taken?
Is it scalable?
Is there a limit on the number of pages that your website can have? If you plan on adding volumes of content (which is great for SEO) will there be plenty of space on your new site to include it? Is it easy to do?
Is it SEO friendly?
Does your CMS allow you to easily update and edit important elements such as meta titles and descriptions?
Can you upload and install files (including documents and images)?
Uploading of files such as pdfs, Word documents, images such as jpegs and png, or embedding YouTube videos should be easy and straightforward.
Who has ownership and control of your site?
Once your site is built, you should own 100% of your site. You should have all the relevant login details for the CMS and be shown exactly how to edit your content and structure of menu items etc.
Here are some of the other key features you should look for when choosing a web host:-
- 24/7/365 UK-based web hosting support for your questions.
- State-of-the-art data centre based in the UK
- Fast, responsive servers for your web hosting
- Regular backups to give you peace of mind about your data
- 99.99% uptime
- Spam protection and anti-virus protection with to protect you against malicious companies or scripts
Your digital partner - whether that is a web designer, web host or a business growth consultancy (like us!) will carry out an analysis of website errors on a monthly basis, which includes looking for broken links, unavailable images etc. You can then make it a priority to fix any discovered errors to ensure the smooth running of your website.
On top of all of this, you should assess the performance of your website on a monthly basis. This gives you the opportunity to spot any under-performing content, poor rankings, a sudden drop in traffic or enquiries or any other issues which you can then address. There are also software platforms which allow you to track the number and source of calls coming through the site. Find out more about call tracking software for law firms.
For our clients, we try to be as transparent as possible, which is reflected in our choice of project management programme, Basecamp. We add all tasks to Basecamp and they are then ticked off or commented on when complete. We invite our clients to their project in Basecamp so that they can see the progress of their website build/social media marketing/pay per click campaign etc.
We also provide our clients with a personalised monthly report which details the KPIs of our digital marketing activities, with the previous month for comparison.
Want to learn more?
Use the links below to browse our other guides, read our insights into digital marketing for lawyers insights or sign up to our blog.
Contact Moore Legal Technology
If you'd like to talk to us about how we can help your business grow, call us on 03333 442 722 and ask for Chris, or fill in our enquiry form. To find out more about how our product Your Law Firm Success™ can help your firm grow, browse the links below.