Are Law Firm Websites Losing New Business?
By John Hogg
Tags:law firm websites lawyer website
Law Firm Websites - The Do's And Don't's
Your website probably sits at the heart of your online business strategy (if you have one) and if set up correctly should be one of your company's key tools for marketing your business and driving leads towards your sales team.
At the end of the day, your website is your virtual shop window and needs to entice people to stop looking and come on in! Your website is a reflection of your company and should let people know what you do and outline why someone should buy from you. Too many firms pay lip service towards their website and simply throw up a quick website because they feel they have to. Ask yourself this, when was the last time the content on your website was updated?
Before You Begin
Before we get started, let's have a quick thought about traffic and how to get more people to see your website. You can get visitors to your website through two distinct routes:
i) PAID TRAFFIC: you pay for the likes of Google Ads; you advertise on specific sites; or you use the likes of Facebook or LinkedIn advertising to get your message in front of your audience in the hope that they will click the link to visit your website.
ii) ORGANIC TRAFFIC: we all use Google and other search engines these days to search for what we want. Organic Traffic is all about building your website so that it can be found by search engines and builds your authority in your specific area of business. Having a SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy will help to ensure you have a good chance of appearing towards to the top of the search rankings when someone searches for keywords related to your business. Have a look at our Top Tips for SEO success here if you are interested in making sure you get good quality organic traffic to your site.
- So before you start, think about the types of visitors you would like to get to your website and develop a plan on how you are going to help them get there.
Once your visitors have arrived on your website, design and content are key to converting these visits into sales. Relevant content and functional design are crucial for customer engagement and conversion, so make sure you have an 'easy to navigate' site which flows seamlessly with plenty of interesting copy, imagery, videos, downloads, blogs and most importantly calls to action. Don't just copy and paste your marketing brochures.
Law firm websites need to engage their audience. Give them what they want and start to think about bringing them on a journey through your website to the point where they can become a lead. Think this journey through and don't just build your site with a bit of marketing copy and then leave it to chance - this is one sure way to become disillusioned with your website when the sales/ leads don't roll in.
The aim of the game is to develop a website that interests and engages your target audience and takes them on a journey that will inform and educate. This will more likely result in visitors becoming active leads by downloading something like an infographic or an e-book, or signing up to receive your e-zine or blogs in return for their email address. Once you legitimately have their email address you can start to build a dialogue which will hopefully convert into new business in due course.
Here are some of our favourite do's and don't's for enhancing customer engagement on your legal website:
The DO’s Of Modern Design For Law Firm Websites
- Navigation - where do your customers go when they land on your site? Are pages clearly labelled and will customers get what they’re expecting when they click on the links? Consider categorising your content using key terms or products. Add breadcrumb trails if your customers are likely to visit multiple pages so they know where they are and don’t get lost. Think about the customer journey when designing your site and don’t forget we read from left to right so list your most important services from left to right and top to bottom.
- Aesthetics - think about the alignment of images, text and icons. Symmetry and the arrangement of your content is very important and when it works well will allow your visitors to flow seamlessly through your site. Be consistent with the colours you have chosen and the spacing on your pages. Choose colours that complement each other and allow key sections to stand out.
- Branding - ensure your online branding reflects your offline so that your overall branding is consistent across all channels. Make sure your pages contain your logo and company colours, just as you would for your stationery or signage in the real world.
- Informative - make sure customers can take something away from your website. Customers normally think, ‘What’s in it for me?’, and expect to learn or receive something quickly from your website. Are you able to provide them with a free download or enter them into a competition in exchange for their name and email address? If they’ve scanned your site and haven’t seen anything worthwhile, they’ll click away and probably not come back. Give them something in exchange for their email address and start to build your database now.
- Speed - people who use the web will often scan over copy to look out for pointers or relevant areas so use headers and bullet points to help draw the eye to relevant sections. If customers can’t find what they’re looking for after a quick scan, they’ll probably go elsewhere.
- Typography - try and use the same (or complementary) font across the board and try to be consistent with your offline branding. Don't forget, your spelling and grammar is essential! You want to be considered as a credible source and an authority within your industry. Nothing puts a customer off more than mistakes. You also need to make sure your font is web compliant and legible.
- Optimise - it goes without saying, you need to optimise your website so you can be found by search engines, but what about the customer? You need to make sure your pages are enhanced with keyword phrases and links to relevant sources. Your site is helping visitors to learn about your particular area of expertise and this will also help them realise they’re getting something in return for visiting your site. The key to any form of optimisation is test, test, test. If you're not continually trying new things and analysing what is working best then you're not optimising...
The DON’T’s Of Modern Design For Law Firm Websites
- Chaos - don't design your site without planning first - stepping back and taking a strategic approach will pay dividends. There will be less chance of you going off target and more chances of you meeting your objectives if you start off with a piece of paper and a pen and draw up a plan.
- Mixed Messages - don't overdose on third party advertising - having too much going on will put users off, especially if you’ve allowed third parties to advertise on your site. It can be hard enough to articulate your own business message without confusing it with someone else's. You'd prefer customers to stay on your site and read about your business rather than be distracted by advertising from other companies, right?
- Overkill - don't ask for too much information on contact forms - obtaining as much information from your customer is great for marketing purposes but don’t pressure the customer into filling out forms with endless mandatory fields! Nothing puts a customer off more than having to fill out every single detail, especially if all they’re doing is trying to sign up to a free download. Getting them to part with any information is challenging enough so don’t put them off!
- Complicated - don't get too technical - when you’re designing your website make sure you don’t have too many gadgets, widgets and flashing gifs. This can be extremely off putting and deter people from browsing through your site, especially if these distractions are featured on more than one page. You're not trying to dazzle your visitors, you want to engage with them!
- Slow - does your site take an eternity to open? People are focused on speed and convenience and don’t want to wait for your site to open. Search Engines are also interested in the speed it takes a page to load so if you don't want to kill your chances of a good ranking make sure your site opens quickly and isn't being slowed down due to some lazy code or a 500mb image on your front page. Here's a handy tool we use to check the speed of sites we build for customers - https://tools.pingdom.com/
If you're still having issues engaging have a quick look at a the metrics below:
- Visits: how are customers finding you? are you visible? is your SEO working? do you have social media or should you consider paid advertising to drive traffic? And don't forget to review your offline activities to see how your real world marketing is driving traffic as well.
- Page views: are customers able to find their way through your site? could your navigation be too technical or let’s face it is your content just plain boring?
- Bounce rates: do your pages take too long to load? This could definitely be driving your bounce rate up. Do you have too many distracting adverts or is the site too much of a visual overload for visitors? Are your visitors not finding what they want quickly enough? The result... they leave - plain and simple! Goodbye!
Law Firm Websites - A Summary Of The DO's & DON’T’s
A well planned web design strategy needs a proper customer journey established from the outset to enable good customer conversion. There is no holy grail for the perfect lawyer website but we believe that a well planned site, that takes visitors on a (relevant) journey in order to drive engagement is the right way to go - and don't forget your metrics! Set objectives and measure key metrics to continually improve the performance of your website. The whole point should be to generate leads by capturing information that will ultimately help you drive conversion to sales. Your navigation, calls to action and aesthetics need to be as seamless as possible to make visitors feel like they’re not having to do too much. You also need to inspire them with your content.
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We hope this quick overview helps give you a flavour of some of the things you need to consider when you're planning a new legal website or looking at how you drive more business from it. If you feel like you need a bit of a hand with your website or would like some advice on how to plan your law firm website design, Give Us A Call. As always, we'd love to help and are always interested in helping people meet their business objectives. If, however, you're too keen and you can't wait, why not check out our Free Guide On How To Design The Best Lawyer Website?
John is managing director of Enlighten IC and has been involved in legal marketing and technology marketing for over 25 years. He is passionate about how an inbound approach to marketing can help firms to drive leads and grow their business.Get In Touch