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5 Things Web Designers Wish Attorneys Knew About Law Firm Websites

by | Jul 7, 2017 | Design

Your website is often a potential client’s first exposure to your law firm. They will likely see it–and start developing an opinion of your firm based on what they see–long before they set foot in your physical office.

A well-designed website can help potential clients develop a positive first impression and make them more likely to contact your law firm, while a poorly designed website can drive potential clients away.

These five design tips can help you turn your law firm’s website into an effective and engaging driver of new business.

1. More is not always better on law firm websites

We sometimes hear from attorneys who want to add a lot of flashy design elements–such as sliders or video backgrounds–to their websites.

While these elements can be an attractive and engaging part of a well-designed website, too many of them can distract and overwhelm website visitors.

Having too many flashy design elements can also make your website load slowly. No matter how “cool” or “pretty” a design element is, if it causes your page to load slowly, your potential clients may leave your website out of frustration.

One study found that more than half of mobile users reported abandoning a website if pages took longer than 3 seconds to load.

To ensure you are not overburdening your website with unnecessary design elements, think about how a design element will benefit your law firm website visitors. Does it provide a better experience for them? Does it make your website easier to use? Does it help keep visitors engaged with your content? Does it make it easier for them to take the action you want them to take?

If the answer to those questions is no, a flashy design element may be unnecessary.

To learn more about the balance between aesthetics and usability, see our blog post “Law Firm Website Design & The Price Of Beauty.”

2. Not all fads are good fads

Web design has fads, much like clothing or hairstyles. A “cool” new style arrives on the scene and suddenly many websites have adopted that new look. Attorneys sometimes think they need to adopt every new web design fad in order to keep up with the competition or have a modern-looking website.

However, not all web design fads make sense for every website. Parallax scrolling is one example. This design technique allows different page elements to scroll past at different speeds, giving a three-dimensional animated look to a two-dimensional page.

You can achieve some interesting effects using parallax scrolling. At the same time, parallax scrolling can also make it challenging for website visitors to absorb large quantities of information. Therefore, many web designers don’t recommend it for content-heavy websites that are geared towards providing in-depth information to visitors.

Rather than incorporating design fads into your law firm’s website because everyone else is doing it, think about whether they will benefit your website visitors and improve their experience.

3. There is often a good reason for web design conventions

Your law firm’s website should differentiate you from your competition, but sometimes this can be taken too far.

There are some design conventions that most website visitors expect (for example, scrolling down to continue reading or having the main navigation menu appear near the top of a page).

A site design that doesn’t follow those conventions may be hard for a website visitor to navigate, and it may distract or frustrate them. They may even choose to leave your law firm’s website rather than continuing to struggle with a website they can’t easily use.

As Victoria Blute, LawLytics Community Manager, puts it, “If someone doesn’t feel it’s obvious how to access the information they need about their case or problem, they’ll go elsewhere to find it.”

If you want your law firm website to be “different,” your branding (colors, logo, typography, images, etc.) and content can differentiate you from the competition, while still offering a familiar and easy-to-use experience to website visitors.

If you do want to try an “outside of the box” design, talk to your designer about it. If they say it isn’t a good idea or they present alternatives, ask them why. They likely have good reasons, based on their knowledge and experience of website usability.

4. Formatting matters on law firm websites

Readability is an important part of user experience. Potential clients are likely looking for information about their case or problem. If they can’t find it easily, there’s a good chance they’ll get frustrated, even if you’re providing good information.

These guidelines can help make your website more readable and therefore more useful for potential clients:

  • Put the most important information first. Most website visitors won’t read every word you write on your law firm’s website.
  • Organize your content with headers. Headers (like the numbered items in this blog post) help website users quickly identify which information is most relevant for them.
  • Break up text with bulleted lists where appropriate. Bulleted lists can break up an overwhelming wall of text and make it easier for website visitors to focus on and absorb relevant information.
  • Use a font that is easily readable, and don’t use too many different fonts on your law firm’s website.

To learn more about effective formatting for your law firm website content, check out our blog post “5 Ways To Make Law Firm Website Content More Readable.”

5. Choose the right images for your law firm’s website

Well-chosen images can make your website more visually engaging and reinforce your law firm’s overall brand and message.

However, there are a number of ways that poorly-chosen images can detract from law firm website design:

  • Too many images. Images draw website visitors’ attention. Too many images make it hard for them to focus on any particular part of a webpage.
  • No images at all. If a webpage is nothing but an uninterrupted wall of text, this can overwhelm and intimidate website visitors.
  • Bland or generic images. Images of the scales of justice, a gavel, or a bookshelf full of legal books don’t help visitors understand what is unique about your law firm (or even what kind of law you practice).
  • Low-quality or unprofessional images. Images that are blurry, have distracting backgrounds, or don’t look professional can give website visitors a negative first impression of your law firm.
  • Too many pictures of yourself. Potential clients want to know how you can help them and that you will care about them. Pictures of you can be memorable and can provide a glimpse into your personality, which matters to potential clients. But if your website includes dozens of pictures of you and doesn’t explain how you can help potential clients with their case or matter, they may think you are more interested in yourself than in helping them. That can deter them from contacting your law firm.

Designing effective law firm websites

Learn about law firm website design basics, as well as design considerations that can influence the growth and effectiveness of your website in our on-demand webinar, “Website Design For Lawyers.”

On-Demand Webinar

Website Design For Lawyers

Website Design For Lawyers

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