Digital Marketing: What NOT to do when designing a law firm website
By Kevin Vermeulen
A well-designed website that reflects positively on a practice and its attorneys is a must-have for any law firm seeking to build and maintain credibility with potential clients.
In fact, research shows that up to 75% of a website’s credibility is attributable to its design. If users encounter poor design choices, they’re likely to form a negative impression of a firm and click away to a competitor before they even have a chance to explore the site in-depth.
So how can lawyers and legal marketers ensure their website is designed to inspire trust among the target audience? They can start by avoiding these eight common website design mistakes.
Neglecting responsive design
The portion of people using mobile devices to browse the internet keeps growing, accounting for 58% of all global web traffic in 2022. If a website’s design doesn’t render just as well on a phone or tablet as on a desktop, a law firm will lose out on valuable opportunities to engage and convert potential clients, as many visitors will quickly bounce away in frustration.
Treating accessibility as an afterthought
Ensuring a website is accessible to everyone, regardless of disability, isn’t just the right thing to do, Google and the other search engines consider it extremely important. Avoidable design mistakes—such as insufficient color contrast, missing or inaccurate alt-text, lack of visual indicators, and the absence of accessible names and labels that convey information to those using assistive technologies— all point to a website where accessibility was either an afterthought or not considered at all.
Prioritizing aesthetics over the user experience
Every law firm must have an attractive, modern website, but design aesthetics should never interfere with a stellar user experience. While it’s best practice to incorporate videos, animations, interactive content, and other elements into a website’s design, balance is essential to ensuring overuse of these elements won’t result in slow-to-load pages or otherwise interfere with any aspect of a website’s functionality.
A law firm’s website must set the practice apart from its competitors, so cookie-cutter templates are not an option. Design choices should be consistent with branding and reflect a firm’s unique messaging so visitors come away with a memorable and lasting impression of the practice.
Losing sight of the ultimate goal: conversion
When choosing visual elements, law firms must stay focused on their overriding goal: increasing conversions. If a seemingly “cool” graphic or video doesn’t encourage visitors to take the next desired step or action, it’s not going to be effective and might even prove distracting to users. For example, many people won’t engage with carousels, so featuring them could prevent a significant percentage of visitors from accessing impactful content that would have otherwise moved them further along on their client’s journey.
Lack of hierarchy
Too many law firms ignore the need for a hierarchy on a website. Ensuring all content is well-organized for both visual and functional appeal allows visitors to quickly understand what’s important and what action to take next. While this can be a little complicated for any firm seeking to engage various audiences with differing goals, it’s vital that a website’s overall design accounts for users’ paths.
A well-designed website should allow users to navigate with ease from the moment they arrive on a page. Straightforward navigation provides consistency across touchpoints and user journeys, ensuring a smooth transition to the next step. When visitors can reasonably ascertain where they need to go next, they’re less likely to bounce away to a competitor’s site.
Failing to highlight the business purpose
What exactly does a law firm do? If website visitors can’t arrive at an answer fairly quickly, they will abandon the site in short order. To build credibility with visitors, all messaging above the fold should clearly convey a firm’s areas of practice and the services it offers.
A website can be a powerful tool for driving new business. Avoiding these critical design mistakes allows law firms to establish credibility with their target audience and provide the positive user experience needed to encourage site visitors to take the next step along the clients’ journey.
Kevin J. Vermeulen is a partner in Good2BSocial LLC, a digital marketing agency that focuses on law firms and companies in the legal industry. He can be reached at [email protected]