Author: Nischal Pathania
Your branded website is your Internet home. And if you want to leverage this valuable real estate and maximize its potential, you need to invest in quality content and aesthetics. This means paying careful attention to design, functionality, and layout. To guide you through the process, we’ve cultivated a full list of helpful tips and tricks.
Why a law firm website matters
For attorneys who have been in practice for 20, 30, or 40-plus years, it’s sometimes difficult to fully grasp the value of a law firm website. After all, you had plenty of success in the 70s, 80s, or 90s without so much as touching a website. Well, the industry has changed. Marketing has moved online. Client acquisition has moved online. Virtually everything has moved online. If you want to remain competitive, you need a reputable site. Here’s why:
- Discovery happens online. Did you know that 92 percent of adults use search engines like Google to find information? Roughly 60 percent use the Internet to find local businesses, including law firms. If you want potential clients to find you, you can’t ostracize Internet users.
- Your competition is online. It’s highly likely that your biggest competitors are already online. This means their firms are in front of potential clients 24/7. While you may not notice the attrition right away, you’ll eventually begin to see competing law firms getting bigger while yours withers away. You need a well-designed site to stay competitive.
- Websites suggest credibility. You’ll never find a credible business or brand that doesn’t have a website. It just doesn’t happen in the 21st century. At the very least, you need a website to enhance your credibility.
Tips and tricks for designing a quality website
Websites are important—you get the picture. But if you’re going to put time, money, and energy into designing a website, you need to make sure it’s effective. Here are some simple, helpful tips for designing a quality website for your law firm.
1. Select the right CMS. A content management system, or CMS, is a program that lets you write, organize, and publish content to your website. There are a number of options, but most attorneys go with WordPress. It’s easy to use, is renowned for its helpful community, and has a wide selection of tools, themes, and resources. The good news is that you aren’t stuck with one CMS. If you try one and decide you don’t like it, you can always switch. Avvo powered websites are hosted under WordPress and other popular options include Joomla! and Drupal.
2. Choose a consistent color palette. When designing a website, spend time thinking about the brand image you want to convey. Your color scheme will go a long way in determining this. Your goal is to use 2 or 3 cohesive and consistent colors. Many designers follow the 60-30-10 rule as a starting point. This rule states that your site should use 3 primary colors in a 60 percent, 30 percent, 10 percent ratio. Conventional wisdom suggests that either the 60 percent or 30 percent should be a neutral color to give you more flexibility in choosing the other 2 colors.
3. Use custom imagery. Everyone has seen websites featuring cold, cheesy stock photos. Unfortunately, these are pervasive in the legal industry. If you want to stand out, spend a little more on custom photos, images, and graphics. Don’t display stock photos of strangers; instead, show off your lawyers, clerks, and assistants. People want to know exactly whom they’re working with.
4. Invest in quality content. A website isn’t all about aesthetics. The design and layout may draw users in, but it’s the content that encourages them to stick around. If you’re going to pay top dollar for something unrelated to design, invest in content. Your homepage content is not only important in engaging users, but it also helps search engines determine whether your site is relevant and useful.
Common mistakes to avoid
In addition to utilizing the aforementioned tips, you should also avoid the following design-related mistakes:
5. Using too many pages. Your website should be simple and informative. Those two design principles should drive every decision you make. There’s no value in overpopulating your website with dozens of internal pages just for the sake of providing more content. Focus on simplicity and eliminate anything that doesn’t add value.
6. Not investing in responsive design. 5 years ago, mobile websites were considered mandatory for websites. Now, they’re almost obsolete. Instead, focus your efforts ondesigning a responsive website that allows users to seamlessly transition from device to device without compromising the integrity or layout of the site. It may cost more up front, but a responsive site will pay dividends in the future.
7. Having no lead intake strategy. Your website should attract users, engage them, and ultimately encourage them to contact you for more information. Unfortunately, many lawyers forget to develop a smooth lead intake strategy. Don’t make this mistake. Make it easy for site visitors to contact you by creating a simple and visible contact form.