In a previous article on the new legal consumers, we learned that approximately one in three people in need of legal assistance finds their lawyer by researching them online. A good website plays a crucial role in that. So, what makes a website of a law firm successful? Here are some recommendations by the experts.
Website visitors are picky and demand a positive user experience, or they’ll just turn away. The following five items contribute to a positive user experience.
Quick load time: your pages should load fast. Research shows that most people are only willing to wait some seconds before they turn away, because they haven’t seen anything yet. Typically, mobile users are less patient than desktop users.
Mobile-friendly: with more mobile users than desktop users on the Internet, having a mobile-friendly website is a must.
Relevant imagery: visitors tend to prefer visually pleasing websites. It is, however, not enough to just have attractive imagery, it must be relevant.
Modern design: lawyers often make the mistake of going for a more conservative design. They forget that the website should appeal to their visitors, and the majority of them prefer modern designs.
Easy navigation: the website users want to find the information they are looking for fast. Easy navigation is therefore a must, too.
Four imperatives to convert prospects
One of the purposes of a website is to convert visitors into clients. In a previous article (on why social media matter), we pointed out that this typically works better if you turn your website visitors into content consumers first, and that social media can play a significant role in that. To convert visitors into content consumers and clients, the texts on your site must be client-focused. They must convey clarity, trust, relatability, and differentiation.
Clarity: lawyers tend to use sentences that are too long, and verbose. Your sentences should be short, clear and to the point.
Trust: what you tell about yourself must convince a potential client that they can trust you.
Relatability: people look to establish relationships with other people they can relate to. If your texts are distant or aloof, a prospective client will look somewhere else.
Differentiation: you have to stand out and explain what makes you different from other lawyers offering similar services.
Pages to include
Your website should include the following pages:
Services: describe the services you offer. Be precise.
Testimonials: prospective clients want to know who the other clients are that you helped, and what they think of you.
A personalized about us page offers an opportunity to profile yourself as relatable, trustworthy and as different from other firms.
A contact form with Captcha: you want people to be able to reach you, but at the same time, you want to keep spammers out.
A FAQ page often is a good idea. The most frequently asked questions usually have to do with how much it will cost. Provide information on how and how much you charge, and for what.
More and more online consumers give preference to websites that offer an online payment facility.
Finally, your website should have site maps for your visitors, as well as for the web crawlers that search engines use.
Recommended page elements
Usability experts recommend including the following elements in the pages:
The header of the pages should include the domain name, your logo, and your tagline (if you have one). Typically, the header will also include the top navigation, as well as the breadcrumb navigation (i.e. the ‘you are here: home > …’ section).
On your page, under the header, you typically want to present a slide show or image. On your home page, you then continue with crucial business information, some testimonials and reviews. Below that, you can list the main features. On other pages than your home page, you present the information that the page is for, and make sure you provide quality content.
At the bottom of the page, you put internal links to other pages on your site.
The footer of your page typically must contain your contact information with special emphasis on your location (people tend to look for a lawyer that lives nearby), and on a phone number. (Some experts recommend putting your phone number in the header). Your footer should also include your business hours, as well as your Social Media buttons.