lawyer websites

9 Costly Mistakes When Redesigning Lawyer Websites

By John Hogg


lawyer website lawyer websites

Redesigning your lawyer websites can be a tricky affair

In the first instance, it can be very difficult to generate any sort of interest in the project owing to some partners not really seeing the need for a website at all

  • “We’ve got a website. Why would we need to design a new one?" 

    "Our current website doesn’t produce any leads so why should we spend any more money on it?”

This is a pretty compelling argument, and to be honest, it is a pretty difficult one to come back from because to the typical lawyer their website does nothing for them.

Yes, it's nice for people to go in and have a look at the partner bios, etc. but it isn't really a business development tool...  is it? 

What's a website got to do with legal marketing or business development in a law firm?

Thank goodness that when you read our blogs and download our ebook, "How To Design The Best Lawyer Website" you will be in a position to redesign your lawyer website to actually produce leads - we just need to convince your management committee that this is why you need the budget in the first place…

Once you secure a budget the next hurdle to overcome is which website design agency will you use and what it is you want your new website to say.

To help you in this regard we have listed below what we feel are the, "9 Costly Mistakes When Redesigning Lawyer Websites"

We’ve been there and want you to get it right first time…

1.  No Purpose.  No Goal

The old adage, “Plan to Fail and Fail to Plan” comes to mind as we are often surprised that a lot of lawyers we deal with have no plan for their website. They may be serious lawyers but when they sit down to come up with the best law firm websites... nothing.

Don’t worry if this is you as we have a great process to take you through to help focus your collective thoughts when redesigning a new website for your legal practice.

Set out with a goal in mind and you will have a much better chance of getting there.

2.  Form over Function

Of course we all want our legal websites to look great and we especially want it to look better than our competitor’s website too. Unfortunately, this often leads to a focus on trying to make your law firm website design look pretty and all decisions centre upon,

  • “Yes, that looks great” or “How do we make it look better?"

These are of course important considerations but if the only critique you have of the website designs in front of you are based on their aesthetic appeal, then you are missing out on so much more.

3.  It’s All About You!

So, so, so many legal websites do this and simply showcase how wonderful their firm is.

In fact, to be honest with you, most websites actually do this and some law firm’s entire marketing budget goes on letting the world know how wonderful they are and which awards they have won.

Think about the analogy of going to a party and being stuck with the person who tells you how wonderful they. It sticks in your throat a bit doesn’t it…

Think about who your clients are and what it is they are interested in. If you focus your website on this it will be instantaneously more appealing than nearly every other lawyer website out there which only talk about themselves…

4.  No Content To Solve Your Clients’ Pain

Now, we don’t want you to give full on legal advice here, but what we do mean builds on the previous point.  For your legal website to cut it with prospective clients and actually start to generate leads, you need to think about who it is you are trying to connect with.

To be honest, this shouldn't just be part of your approach to your law firm website redesign, as this should apply to your entire marketing agenda.

  • For Marketing to be successful you must understand who your audience is!

Who is it that you want to do business with?

If you can build a picture, let’s call it a ‘Client Persona’ for each of the various groups of people you want to do business with and understand what makes them tick and what their pains are, you will be a long way towards understanding your prospective clients a bit better and able to produce regular content which helps them to address these issues.

5.  No Calls To Action

How many lawyer websites have you been on, in fact, how many websites have you been on that don’t actually ask you to do anything? They just shout about how great they are and then somehow they expect you to “Get In Touch”.

If only it was that easy!

For your law firm website design to start generating leads you need to think about who your audience is and the issues/ pains they have. Knowing this will allow you to produce regular, high-quality content to appeal to these issues and then... hit them with a ‘Call To Action’.

  • What is it that you can help them with?
  • Would you like to build more of a relationship with them and establish some credibility and authority by offering premium content they can download and learn more?

There is no point complaining that your lawyer website isn’t producing leads if you don’t actually ask them to do anything…

6.  No Offers

Following on from the previous point, to have a Call To Action you need something to promote. You need to offer your website visitors something that they will be interested in and take action.

When we say ‘Offers’ we don’t mean ‘Two Conveyancing Deals For The Price Of One’ type of thing, what we actually mean is in relation to that premium content we talked about previously.

Can you produce something compelling that will really appeal to your target audience?

  • Quick Question - have you a lot of PDFs on your existing legal website for everyone to download when they want to?

What you need to do it design this content and offer it up as an eBook or a Whitepaper.

For example, if you offer employment law at your particular legal practice and you are targeting a segment of tech industry, perhaps you could produce a ‘Content Offer” such as an ebook entitled,“The Ultimate Guide To Creating Employee Handbooks For Cloud Computing companies.”

...or words to that effect!

The title of your Content Offer will obviously need to appeal specifically to the pains you have previously identified for your target audience but hopefully you get the point.

The key to success, however, is that for people to access this 'premium content' they will need to supply their email address in order to receive it.

7. No Conversion Path

Whilst we hinted at this in the last point, let me spell it out here - if you want to generate leads like the best law firm websites then you need to understand your audience; develop regular content specially for this audience; optimise it well so that it is picked up by search engines (SEO); develop your content offers... and then... develop a conversion path to convert those people interested in your content offers into leads.

So how do you do all of this?

You may think this is all getting a bit technical, but stick with us...

What we are getting at here is that rather than allowing a visitor on your website to simply download a PDF get them to provide their email address in return for it.

  • Another way of looking at this is that you are asking your website visitors to "pay" for your "premium content" with their email address.

By doing this the visitor to your website has told you who there are.  You now have a lead and someone you can begin to nurture until they are ready to become a client of your firm. It is a cold fact of life that the majority of visitors come and go from your website and are effectively strangers as you don't know who they are.  By offering really good content you will have the opportunity to start building a relationship with them.

  • It is surprising that a lot of law firms go to the trouble of producing all sorts of guides and maybe even the odd ebook too and then simply allow visitors to download it as a PDF.

If you do produce "Content Offers" make sure your law firm website redesign allows your visitors to download your premium content once they have filled in a short form to provide, at the very least, their name and email address.

This now provides you with a lead on your website for follow up at a future point in time.

It is important to note that generating a lead is only the beginning of the process as you will want to map out a series of emails to follow up with more useful content at appropriate times. Perhaps you will want to say hello and introduce a bit more about who you are, or maybe you have other related content which you think they might be interested in?

Either way, you are now beginning to build a funnel to 'gently' nurture your leads and to qualify them for a follow up.

How are you going to build a conversion path to convert your visitors into leads and then nurture them until they become clients?

Welcome to the wonderful world of Inbound Marketing for lawyers and how marketing automation can really help to drive leads and clients for your law firm.

We have only just scratched the surface here, but if you are interested in finding out more, why not check out our ebook, "How To Design The Best Lawyer Website" to gain more of an idea about how Inbound Marketing can help your law firm to grow.

8. No Idea About Traffic To Your Lawyer Websites

Obviously you don’t want to produce a lovely, shiny, new website if it just sits there an no one visits it.

You therefore need to begin by looking at traffic to your existing website to see where it comes from. If you are already receiving high quality traffic then great, but either way, you need to stay on top of your traffic to work out where it is coming from so you can get more and you can work out if you are receiving enough to generate the volume of leads you need as a firm.

The four main ways to generate traffic for your lawyer website are:

  1. Organic traffic — Traffic from search engines such as Google (high quality content coupled with a well executed SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plan); and
  2. Social — by posting on social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and providing a link back to your website.
  3. Paid traffic — Traffic to your website from paid ads. This can be either Paid Search (e.g. Google Adwords) or Paid Social (e.g. ads on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, etc.)
  4. Email — an often overlooked source of traffic for your website is from the people you already know and have the ability to send emails to with links back to your website.

Make sure you spend some time working out how much traffic you receive and what you need to do to get more of it.

9. Bad Design. Bad Layout. Bad Navigation

I know we have already mentioned that too many law firm website design projects focus purely on design, however, we also need to acknowledge that design is still important.

Having worked through this blog it is hopefully clear that there are a lot of factors to consider in your law firm website design project, however, you also need to make sure your website is designed with the user in mind.

For example, can your visitors actually find their way easily to the content they are interested in, and if so, are your call to actions and content offers strategically placed in order to entice them to fill in their details and convert into a lead?

Yes, get your design right. Make it "on brand". But also use your design efforts to make sure your website is "useable" and that you are placing things in the right places and in the right ways to get noticed.

When you secure a budget for your law firm website design project it is very easy to get sucked into looking for the right web design agency and then making it look nice.

It is always worth remembering however that good design costs just the same as bad design.  It is up to you (and the power of your brief) to make sure you get the best out of it!

Starting a new website redesign process is an exciting time, for both you and your web design agency. Take the time to consider each of the points outlined throughout this blog to ensure that you give your law firm's new website the best possible start in life.

Get it right and your website can become a much valued, business development tool, whereas if you get it wrong, at best you will have a lovely looking website with some nice pictures of your partners, but very few leads in return.

Adding up the value of all those lost leads makes your law firm website redesign project a pretty costly affair... and many times more than the budget you fought so hard to secure.  Why not check out our Guide To Designing The Best Lawyer Website to find out more?

How To Design The Best Lawyer Website

As ever, we'd love to hear from you, so if you have any comments, please feel free to Get In Touch.  You may also be interested in some of our other lawyer website related posts below...

John Hogg Enlighten IC

John Hogg

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