An Introduction To Law Firm Website Design
A lawyer website can be a fascinating subject with a multitude of different approaches.
For some the view is that their website was done a few years ago and therefore doesn’t need to be looked at again.
We have a website TICK ✓
This is only one example of how some law firms approach their website, although despite the different approaches they are all very much the same when it comes to generating new clients.
The truth is that quite a few overlook how their law firm website could be a valuable business development tool.
Wouldn’t it be great if your firm had a website generating leads on a regular basis?
To actually transact business online is probably a step too far for most law firms, however if you could do something to generate leads from your website which could then be converted into a real, fee-paying client, wouldn’t that be fantastic?
Can this actually be done?
Let’s look at two important statistics, one, a survey by Google which found that 96% of people seeking legal advice (in the US) use a search engine, and the other, from Legal Productivity, which found that only 35% of lawyer websites had been updated in the last year.
Whilst these statistics are a few years old now, this would suggest there is a big opportunity due to the fact that lots of potential clients are searching online. With many law firm websites not being updated however, in reality, this is a lost opportunity. It would also suggest that most of the time these potential new clients for your firm aren’t getting the answers to the questions they are looking for.
This guide, How To Design The Best Lawyer Website, will now look at the various steps you should consider for your law firm website design and turn it into a business development tool generating leads and delivering a return on your marketing investment.
The very fact you are reading this guide would suggest you are interested in finding out more about turning your legal website into a client generating machine such as this - this is a great first step and one which has already put you ahead of the curve. Take the time to read through this guide and consider your options and you will soon be well on track to making your law firm website a success.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and email me at any time on firstname.lastname@example.org and if you are stuck for time, please remember that you can also download a copy of this guide for later.
We’ve all heard the old adage, fail to plan and plan to fail, well the same can be said for your lawyer website. A lot of firms, in fact a lot of businesses in general, build their new website without a specific goal in mind. It's viewed more of a must do rather than something of strategic importance for your firm's growth.
The typical process is usually something along the lines of someone senior deciding that a new website is called for; an agency is appointed; several designs reviewed; and the website build begins. At no point is any consideration given to establishing the goals the new website needs to deliver.
To get going, let’s think through the following questions:
- What is the main reason for your website redesign
- What do you want to achieve with your new website?
- When do you want to achieve these objectives?
- What resources have you set aside?
- Is there a budget in place?
To help you establish meaningful goals it is important to drill down a bit deeper and understand the actual performance of your existing law firm website. Use the table below to establish a baseline for your goal setting process (don’t panic... five minutes looking at your Google Analytics should provide you with this information).
Use this information to determine your existing traffic versus the traffic you think you need in order to generate enough leads from your website. For example, how much do you want to grow new visitors to your website (10%, 20%, 30%, etc)? Have you a particular problem with Bounce Rates and need to do something to retain visitors on your website? What about Social Media? Where Are your Social Media referrals coming from? Do you need to do more with one social media channel than another? What content is appealing to your audience?
Once you work through this information and establish a few goals for traffic to your website you will start to get somewhere.
Another Goal to consider setting relates to the "visitor experience" on your lawyer website. What Content are you going to provide them? How will this content be structured on your website? What questions will you answer for your audience? How often will you produce new content? Will you develop any Content Offers (e.g. eBooks, Guides or Whitepapers) to offer value in advance and help to engage your visitors?
The third type of Goal to set for the best law firm websites relates to ‘Conversion’ and how you will Attract visitors to your website, Convert them into Leads and how you will then nurture these leads in order to Convert them into Clients? You may also want to set an Objective that you will adopt an Inbound Marketing approach to your marketing and introduce a marketing automation platform in order to manage your online activities.
There is a lot to Goal Setting for a new law firm website. Yes, of course you could just wing it and not set any Goals at all, but haven’t we all done that before and seen the lack of results?
Our advice would be to access your Google Analytics and build a baseline. Armed with this knowledge work through this guide to design your lawyer website to win new clients and having read through each section come back to Goal Setting as part of your overall Project Planning and make sure you have mapped out Goals for:
To help you in this regard check out the Interactive Growth Calculator on our website to establish what will have the biggest impact on your firm's growth strategy.
It would also be remiss if we didn’t mention the need for Goals to be SMART:
No matter what you do and whatever you want to achieve from your law firm website design, make sure you start out with a clear vision from the very beginning. Like anything in life, if you think things through and work out a plan of attack before you actually begin, you will have a much better chance of success in the long run.
It goes without saying that if your website is to become a focused business development tool you can’t just leave it to chance.
- Who is the right audience for your law firm?
- Who are you trying to do business with?
Let’s step things back a moment, away from your website, and let’s think about how your firm is positioned within your chosen market (and how you would like it to be positioned!).
With this in mind, let’s identify two or three types of client you normally come across.
This probably sounds easier than it actually is as most people will just say, “I want to target x, y and z.” To do this right, however, you need to go a bit deeper and come up with a semi-fictional representation of who it is you are targeting so that your marketing can really start to shine.
This is what we call the process of building your Client Personas and is one of the most important aspects of your overall law firm marketing. At the end of the day, if you don’t know who your marketing efforts are targeting, it isn’t going to be very effective!
To complete this exercise and build the right client personas for your firm please consider the following:
- Roles and responsibilities
- A typical day in their life
- The pains you help them to overcome
- Their goals and aspirations
- Where they typically go to find out information
- The common objections would they have towards a law firm like yours
- What they would type into Google
Give a name to each persona and find an image of what these people may look like. This will help to make your personas real in the minds of your staff.
Owing to the importance of Client Personas for your overall marketing effectiveness, you may consider holding one or two workshops with people across the firm to develop a really good insight into who it is you want to do business with. Some firms will even survey their different types of client to gain a really good insight into what makes them tick.
Develop your client personas and align your marketing activities towards them and your marketing will now be much more focused ...and successful!
If you would like to receive leads from your lawyer website, creating high-quality content is an essential part of the mix. Whilst this sounds like hard work, the good news is that if you already have a website for your firm then at least you have a starting point.
It is whether or not this content is any good is the real issue...
Having identified who your target audience is in the previous section, you need to make sure you develop regular content to interest them. By doing this and creating content to address their pains (i.e. the challenges they face), you will:
- Establish authority over time
When your audience starts to look on search engines for solutions to their pains they will begin to find your content addressing these topics.
- Attract visitors who are open to engaging with you
You should now be aiming to drive the right type of traffic to your law firm website - the sort of traffic you can subsequently convert into leads.
Content Marketing has become very popular in recent years, although simply producing unfocused content with no substance is as big a problem as producing no content at all. It needs to mean something to your target audience to have any hope of converting them into a lead.
Get your messaging right
- Does your content have a clear message and will visitors know what to do within a few seconds of arriving at your website or blog?
- Are you answering the questions your audience is looking for answers for, or are you just writing content to say how good you think you are?
- Will visitors understand your content, or will it be too ‘lawyerly’ and read more like a contract than a magazine article?
- Will there be a theme to your content which will flow from section to section, or blog to blog?
- Have you broken the text up enough with clear headlines and sub-headings to make it more accessible and easier to read?
Are you hitting the right tone?
It can be difficult enough to get people to visit law firm websites, never mind create compelling content to interest and engage them.
So how do you hit the right tone and not switch them off?
A lot of law firm websites, in fact a lot of websites in general, tend to talk to their audience about how great they are. Ego marketing is alive and well, although unfortunately in reality, it does more to switch your audience off than it does to engage with them.
Generally speaking, if a law firm has any content on their website (bar a few bullet points on each page), it tends to be focused on letting the world know how wonderful a particular lawyer is or how great their firm is at x, y and z.
Even from a ‘let’s stand out from the crowd for doing something different’ point of view, why not try to be different to the other 99% of law firms who just talk about themselves?
Talk about your audience and the issues they face in order to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about.
Tailor your content to their needs
Not everyone is ready to purchase the very first time they come to your lawyer website so you need to have a variety of information to match the different stages they are on. To do this you need to understand the journey your buyers take on their way to becoming a client of your firm and the different types of content they will need at each stage. This will bring a real focus to your content and help you to stand out from the crowd who are just interested in letting people know about which award they have just won, the qualifications they have or associations they are members of.
If you can tailor your content to where your audience is in their buyer’s journey you will be providing content which is directly relevant to their requirements. This will not only let your visitors see that you know what you are talking about, they will also relate to your content and find it much more useful. This should make them want to engage with you and come back for more.
Stages of the Buyers Journey
Educate and offer value
As well as providing content on your lawyer website which is related to your services, i.e. we do this and we do that, provide content to educate your audience. You obviously aren’t going to teach them the law but we all know that an informed client is a much better client to work with than one who just asks question after question or is simply suspicious that everything you do is a cynical ploy to add hours on the bill.
Try to develop a theme for your content and build out from there. Make it educational and offer value. The concept of ‘paying it forward’ is very relevant in inbound marketing for lawyers as you will want to provide value to prospective clients by giving them educational content which addresses whatever stage of the buyer’s journey they are at.
Build a content engine
As you have probably figured out by now, having lots and lots of high-quality content on your law firm website is essential for generating leads. Unfortunately this isn’t a one-off exercise to add a few blogs to your legal website and you’re done. If only it was that easy! To make your content work you will need to commit to producing content on a regular basis. If you would like to find out how we could help you do this, please book a call.
So how busy is your content engine going to be?
Will you blog:
- once a month
- twice a month
- once a week
- twice a week
- or more?
The table below would indicate that the more regularly you blog the faster the results will come.
The best law firm websites view content as one of the most important areas to drive leads although it does take a lot of time and commitment. Yes, we know lawyers are born to draft, however, if you decide this is the route you will follow, please keep thinking back to the checklist below.
If you can’t get your lawyers to agree that the best approach to content production is to let them set the themes and then outsource the production, then at least ensure you have a challenge function to make sure you have a consistent quality, tone and message.
The next time you sit down to write a piece of content, or better still when you sit down to map out your firm’s content plan for the next 6 to 12 months, consider this Content Checklist to make sure your content is on point and delivering the best possible outcome for your firm.
Content Creation Checklist
Calls To Action
Have you Calls To Action on your lawyer website?
Think about it, you invest all your time (and money) setting goals, identifying your audience and developing content, but if your visitors are left with only a Contact Us page or an email link to click at the bottom of your blog, are you really surprised you aren’t getting many leads?
What is it you want your visitors to do
to become a lead?
When you decide this, make sure you actually
give them the opportunity to do it!
It is amazing how many firms have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon because they feel they have to. They produce huge amounts of content and wonder why they aren’t getting many leads, but if there aren’t clear calls to action, are you surprised?
For your lawyer website to produce leads you must make sure it has several calls to action throughout it. How else will a visitor become a lead if you don’t give them something to click on and engage with?
Calls to action can range in sophistication from simple “Sign up to our Newsletter” buttons (although please don’t rely on this as the only way to build your email list), to actual content offers such as “Guide To Writing A Strategic Marketing Plan For Growth”.
The important thing is to consider where your prospects are in their journey towards doing business with you and the different types of information they are looking for at each stage.
- Are they faced with a problem and just starting to research it?
- Have they identified the problem and now looking for a solution?
- Have they decided on the solution and looking at various firms?
Where The Best Law Firm Websites Place Their CTAs
The placement of Calls To Action will have a direct influence on how well they perform. Like every aspect of Inbound Marketing for lawyers you need to continue to test what works and what doesn’t with your audience. Every audience is different so there is no right or wrong answer, you need to test and analyse your results continually to see what is working.
To help you determine where to place your Calls To Action we have listed several ideas below. This checklist can also be found in our Legal Marketing Resource section of our website.
8 Winning Placements For Your Website Call To Actions
Announcement Bar/ Hello Bar
You may have seen some websites with a horizontal bar sliding down from the top of the screen. This type of Call To Action will allow you to instantly make an offer or announcement as soon as a visitor arrives on your website.
A lot of visitors will hit your Home page first so why not have a compelling Call To Action on the Hero Panel when you have their attention the most?
The sidebar is one of the most effective locations for Call To Actions so consider adding one (or two) related CTAs for visitors to see when they finish reading the main content on the page.
Most pages on your website will have a Footer at the bottom. Why not use this to present one (or possibly two) Calls To Action?
A website’s menu can be a great place to have a Call To Action linking to a particularly useful piece of content or offer (please use sparingly).
In Blog / In Page
With an effective Content Marketing strategy in place, why not add ‘relevant’ Call To Actions within your blogs. Think this through carefully so that the Call To Actions relate specifically to the blog/page and represents the next logical step for the visitor.
Whether you love them or hate them, done properly (emphasis on properly) PopUps can be a very effective way to present a Call To Action.
An extension of the PopUp Box is the Exit Pop and will appear when a visitor goes to leave a page. Some people detest them but if they are helpful and compelling you could consider using them, however, make sure you don’t keep showing them on every page the visitor goes to. Maybe hide it for the next 3-7 days?
When most people think about a new lawyer website they immediately start to think about the design. Whilst the design of your new website is very important, we believe it is only one of a number of elements you need to consider and why we have intentionally left it to the end of this guide.
We would concede that deep down we all want a good looking website which looks better than our competitors. Let's think about this for a moment... what would you rather have - an ugly website producing 10 quality leads per week or a glossy website that produces nothing?
Now of course we know you’re not going to be happy with an ugly law firm website, so let’s have a look at some of the design considerations you need to be aware of for the best law firm website design.
First and foremost what does your website look like on arrival? What kerb appeal will your shiny new website have? Does your website use lots of relevant images? Make sure you consider breaking up your text with bullet points, tables and diagrams, headings and sub-headings or even quotations. People switch off if you hit them with a screen full of text. Make it easy for them to read it by breaking up the text into relevant sections.
Good navigation is essential to the design of the best law firm websites. Quite often little thought is given to navigation and it just sort of happens the way the web designer gives it to you.
A recent study by HubSpot found that one of the most important elements in a website redesign is the ease visitors have trying to find the information they are looking for?
So make finding your information easy through well-structured and well thought out navigation. Use sidebars, use internal links, use footers, use breadcrumbs, add search options in addition to the standard navigation bar at the top of your website.
Make sure your website can be seen on whatever browser or device your visitors may be using. Different browsers will treat websites in different ways and different devices, such as mobile phones, will render your website differently. With the explosion in browsing on mobile devices you must make sure your website displays properly and provides a good viewing experience no matter the browser or device.
Now that you have considered each of the main areas for law firm website design to generate leads, you will need to consider to how you are actually going to do it.
Getting a budget from your Executive Committee and employing a web design agency is rarely enough.
Unfortunately you, or someone in your firm, needs to take ownership and drive the redesign process. Remember you are building a business development tool to generate leads for your firm. Giving a brief to a web design agency isn’t enough, you need to establish ownership, set a budget and mark out milestones along the way.
You may want to set up a Project Team at the beginning to assist with setting the goals and objectives and to start the process of rigorously understanding who your audience is. You may also want to set up a sub-committee to look specifically at content and to work out the key content themes you need to cover.
Remember content isn’t a one off job, so you may find it easier to identify your audience and the themes you think your content needs to address and then out-source the actual content production.
Another big concern for lawyers is the view that a non-lawyer could never write articles for them. This can be a dangerous point of view because nine times out of ten it will be a non-lawyer who will be reading the content, so as long as the key points are agreed up front, having a non-lawyer write the blog could actually be a better way to go.
Go back to your objectives and develop a project plan which clearly specifies who will do what, by when and how much it will all cost.
Armed with this plan you can set off on your law firm website design project, safe in the knowledge that you have a well structured plan of attack which is designed to deliver the best new website for your firm, which also doubles up as a successful business development tool, generating numerous new leads per month.
Reasons For A Law Firm Website Project To Be Delayed
In our experience, one of the major obstacles when designing law firm websites is content. Rarely is enough time given to content and it is often the main reason for delay with a website project.
- Old Content is just copied across
- New Content never arrives from those assigned to write it
- Outsourced Content is never signed off by the client
Don't underestimate the length of time it can take to source, review and sign off content for your new law firm website and make sure you allow for this in your project timelines.
In this guide we’ve looked at how redesigning your law firm website is a great opportunity to refocus your approach to winning new clients for your firm.
Instead of a pretty website (or not so pretty in some cases) that just sits there, doesn't change and never produces a lead, follow our simple process to knock your website into shape and generate a healthy pipeline of new leads.
Look at the past performance of your website, the traffic you get and the type of content your visitors find popular.
Understand your existing clients and use this to develop personas for each of your key target audiences.
Develop a thorough content plan which addresses the pains and challenges faced by your audience and write to this - not about how great a lawyer you are.
Invest time in developing more detailed content which your audience would be willing to give you their email address for in order to receive it.
Calls To Action
Map out clear calls to action to turn these interested visitors into engaged leads and ultimately fee paying clients.
Design a website which is in keeping with your brand identity and clearly articulates your key messages.
Create a wonderful user experience to make it as painless and easy as possible for your audience to use your website no matter the screen they are using, the browser they are on, or any impairments they may have.
Once you have a good handle on each of the areas above commit yourself and your team to a thorough project plan to ensure you cover all the bases and deliver your new lead generating website on time and within budget.
We hope you have found this guide on How To Design The Best Lawyer Website useful? If you would like to save a copy for later, please click on the image below.
It is important to note that your law firm website is only one aspect of your inbound marketing strategy, albeit an essential one. Should you wish to discuss redesigning your law firm website or the overall approach to marketing and business development at your firm, please feel free to get in touch for a free, no obligation call.