There are a variety of reasons why a law firm might want or need a website. For some, they realize that they’ve outgrown an old, static website — meaning that the design doesn’t adjust for various-sized devices. Others recognize that potential clients are searching for solutions to their legal problems online, and want to gain more leads through their website.
Physical appearance is often at the top of the list of needs when we’re contacted by a lawyer about a new website. Website redesign is not only concerned with aesthetic changes. It’s about making content and design decisions that align with a purposeful marketing strategy to help your website meet its fullest potential. Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin to consider redesigning your law firm’s website.
Determine What’s Working with Your Current Law Firm Website
Consider how you’ve obtained new clientele through your website. Check to see what are the most highly visited landing pages — the pages that bring in search results to your site. One of the best sources for collecting concrete data is Google Analytics. We use tools like Google Analytics to observe which pages are receiving the most traffic to help us preserve what's working from an SEO perspective.
It’s helpful to track whether clients are filling out a form or subscribing to your blog before contacting you. Understanding what has worked for you in the past can give you a greater sense of what your target audience is looking for.
Identify Your Law Firm’s Brand Values
The look and feel of your law firm's site should convey the professional tone you bring to all aspects of your business. To do so, you will need to identify your brand values. Brand values go a lot further than your logo or representative colors—they describe what principles your law firm prides itself upon.
Brand values are more descriptive than words like nice or creative, they express unique qualities about your law firm. Good examples include, wholesome, inviting and passionate. Choose words that you think clients would use to describe your law practice. Once you have identified your brand values, make sure they are consistent in their representation across the site. Whether visual or contextual, your website design should clearly state your brand values throughout.
Connect With Your Ideal Legal Client
To create a website that’s your most valuable marketing tool, you need to understand your ideal client in depth. Take the time to:
Reflect on previous and current clients. What do they have in common? (Consider what website elements would be appealing to them.)
Think about what information would be helpful to them, based on their legal needs.
When you understand who you’re looking to attract, you can focus your redesign efforts on what design and content will reach your target audience.
Optimize Your Law Firm Website for Mobile & More
These days, most people are searching the internet on their mobile devices — so your website needs to function as well on any mobile device as it does on a screen.
On most sites, regardless of what industry the company is in, at least 50% of site traffic is mobile. If your site is not mobile-friendly and a potential client is searching for an attorney on their phone, Google will NOT bring up your site as a search result. No matter how appealing your site may be, if it’s not optimized for mobile, it will be difficult to find.
Mobile Friendly vs. Responsive for Law Firm Websites
Although both a mobile-friendly website and a responsive website are technically “optimized for mobile,” there’s a big difference in the user experience provided. When redesigning your site it is crucial that you follow a responsive format and avoid settling for a mobile friendly website that could ultimately ruin your design work and consequently drive visitors away.
Mobile-friendly websites are those that look the same no matter how they are being viewed, whether on your desktop, phone or tablet. Because mobile-friendly sites stay static, they frequently run into aesthetic and technical difficulties.
Responsive websites adjust based on the screen they are being viewed on. A responsive website will stretch, shrink and change to ensure the site is easily viewable and navigable.
Think About Your Law Firm Website’s Navigation and Hierarchy as Critical for Success
Your law firm design provides a framework for what your site visitors need to know about you the moment they land on your site. The website navigation offers the opportunity to share with visitors your brand (specifically, what your focus is), as well as how to best organize your site so that visitor can easily find what they need.
Beyond that, the hierarchy of information presented on important pages — such as the homepage and pages in the navigation — is critical for SEO success. The order of content and headlines are key signals to search engines about what’s important to know about your firm. This stage of website design, referred to as the information architecture, is when many of the strategic decisions of how to market your website begins. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of a solid IA strategy for your website redesign. It can mean the difference in search engine result rankings, an optimal user experience (to keep visitors from quickly clicking off your site) and converting users to visitors to potential leads for your business.
Seek Inspiration From Other Legal Sites
Looking at websites owned by law firms of a similar size and legal practice is one of the best ways to inspire your thought process. Factors you’ll want to consider include:
Your immediate impression of their site
How they market to clients
What kinds of information are they offering and in what form
How their site is organized
What kinds of images are they using
Get Partners on Board With a New Law Firm Website
When you’re pitching website redesign, emphasize how partners will see a return on their investment. Translate how and why you see value in a redesign process, using data you have collected from Google Analytics to support your findings. Make sure that you clearly explain all that a website design entails and convey the search engine optimization benefit that your law firm could receive. Figure out what your budget is and consider whether you want to use a template website platform or a custom site to fit your specific needs.