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April 9, 2020

What’s The Best Website Design For Small Law Firms?

The best website design can turn small law firms into big law firms, by helping to attract relevant website visitors and then convert them into relevant enquiries. But how can you create a great legal website on a small budget?

Here are some ideas based on experience of working with websites that convert (and some that don't).

Smaller law firms are often dealing with smaller volumes of traffic (that is before you become a big law firm). Because of this, a well designed website can be the difference between a visitor quickly leaving and going to a competitor or understanding why they should choose you and making an enquiry.

“It doesn't matter what you think of your website. It matters what your potential clients think”

A Legal Website Philosopher

Ok you should care a bit what your website looks like,  but the aesthetic of a website drops down the priority list, when you  give serious thought to what your website is for. Your website is there to generate enquiries and sometimes it looks nice that can help, but trust me it isn't the most important factor.

Your business objective for your website isn't to create something that looks good, it's to create a sales and marketing engine that drives enqueries and helps you generate revenue.

The best websites for small law firms

Here are some of the do's and dont's when it comes to designing or updating your law firm's website.  

Do

  • Make decisions based on data from competitors and your previous visitors
  • Have a clear idea of what your website is for (to drive enquiries)
  • Create logical content silos and categories.
  • Use an easy to manage content management system (CMS) like wordpress
  • Commit to creating quality content for search engines and visitors
  • Measure success using the right data.

Don't

  • Agonise over colours, fonts and logos at the expense of lead -generation.
  • Make decisions based on what you think looks nice. (use data instead).
  • Use a web developer who charges you each time you want to make a small change.
  • Have a content management system that you can't access and update yourself, any time. 
  • Be restricted by the design and unable to try new things. 

Summary:

Your website isn't just about how it performs as a marketing channel, but how easy it is for you to make edits to content, structure, look and feel for years to come.  Consider the process as well as the final product. 

 So what does a well designed website for solicitors do?

It's a website that is designed as part of a marketing strategy and fulfils the business objective of generating enquiries.  This means that before you even start coding or thinking about templates for designs you need to establish who the website is for and what you want it to achieve.

Most law firms have two (or should have two) key objectives in mind:

  •  more enquiries via a contact form or email
  •  more enquiries via calls

So your website needs to be structured, designed and laid out to achieve these two objectives.

And what if it's a new website?

If your Law Firm is making a brand new site, you may have some existing authority in search engines such as Google or you may not. Either way you'll need to consider your SEO when designing and laying out your website.

Consider first how you will attract and convert visitors to your website, then you can give some serious consideration to how it looks and what visitors do when they see it. 

Use data to make decisions about your new website

Already have an existing website? Then you're in a great position to be able to make informed decisions about what needs to change. Ideally you'll have some form of analytics on your website and you can make decisions about things like

  • which content is most popular
  • which pages people most commonly land on from search engine
  • the flow of visitors through your website, which pages do they commonly navigate to and where do they commonly leave and exit the website
  • which content has a high bounce rate or low engagement rate and does it need to be changed as part of your design?

You can also get feedback from clients and customers about how easy it is to find information and content about your services as well as how easy it is to make contact with you. 

You may find that you received an awful lot of the irrelevant enquiries in which case you want to filter this through making different information available to different personas. For example making simple wills might take you too long and not be as lucrative as lasting power of attorneys.

Spy on competitor's websites

Another great source of data and information is our old friend Google. To see who your local competitors are, do a quick search for solicitors in your area or even make it service specific, for example “personal injury solicitors in Manchester”.  If Google is ranking these websites for the relevant search term then it must perceive their contents to be valuable. Have a look at 3 or 4 of your competitors websites. 

  • what do you like about their website?
  • how does it look on mobile?
  • how have they structured their website?
  • what are the unique selling points and how visible are they?

Depending on the volume of traffic to your old website, you may also want to spend some time doing some user testing.  This will give you a clear picture of how users flow through your site and how best to lay it out from the structure of pages through to design and layout of individual pages.  This is  a more advanced requirement for those who have higher volumes of traffic (I’d say at least 200-300 visits per day). 


Structure and SEO for legal websites 

Now we’ve established how important your website is for a law firm's marketing strategy, one of the most important parts of the digital marketing mix for law firms is the SEO strategy.   

This is a long-term play that can help you generate free traffic from search engines and not just free traffic, but relevant free traffic.

Go back to Google and search for one of your services, for example “property conveyancing solicitors.” Not only will you see a list of websites that Google deems relevant to that search, but you'll also see some suggestions of things that people commonly search for. 

Thanks for helping out, Google!


a search for property solicitors

Boom, you've got some content ideas for landing pages and also for blogs.

When designing your website, your research needs to go beyond simply identifying which search terms you want to rank for.  You need to consider the structure and how you categorise and silo content to make sure Google knows which pages to rank and when.

>> Read our complete guide to SEO for solicitors here​​​​

Create a spreadsheet and plot out the different sections of your new website based on your research.

It's also a good idea to start thinking about your content strategy as early as possible and that you have the facility to add new content regularly.

How will your legal website reflect your brand?

Once you've done the research, you’re clear about why you need a new website for your law firm and you understand what you want to get from it as well as how it's going to be structured,  you'll need to consider how to reflect your Brand and this will inform the design.

For example if a selling point of yours is that clients get to speak directly with solicitors, then feature the solicitors more on the site; their approach to work, experience and what it will be like working with them. 

“ If a selling point of yours is that clients get to speak directly with solicitors, then feature the solicitors more on the site; their approach to work, experience and what it will be like working with them.”

Imagine that new visitors to your website don't care about it as much as you. You have 8 seconds tell them everything they need to know and to encourage them to take action or hang around long enough for you to start building some sort of relationship with them.

Sum up your firm, or why someone should choose you for a service in less than 8 seconds, and you're on to a winner. 

Design and layout

Clarity, readability and structure are all pivotal when it comes to design and layout of your law firm's website. 

You also need to cater for mobile and desktop visitors. How does your site look on a smart phone? Almost half of all my client's website traffic comes from mobile and it's only going to increase. Make sure you don't put them off. 

Mobile usability is also an SEO factor. If your site isn't fit for purpose on mobile devices, then you won't appear as high as you could in search rankings. 

Structure:

Understanding which elements on a page are likely to give visitors enough incentive to hang around and enquire. 

Image from Thrive Themes (see thrivethemes.com)

Be aware of the difference between a service page which should focus on:

  • your location
  • the specific service
  • how you can help the user
  • conversion focussed - here's how to get in touch with us

And a blog or news page which should be more educational and long form with elements of conversion optimisation thrown in. 

Clarity:

Using the layout above, can you clearly and concisely communicate in short sentences how you can help and why visitors should choose you?

Your USP should enforce your benefit driven headline and the content groups below that should link off to other child pages that are relevant to helping visitors on their journeys

Readability:

Is it compelling? Does it hook the visitor in to engage and enquire? Remember, compelling doesn't always mean creative or "outside the box" - you might just be able to offer them exactly the solution they were looking for. 

Ready to talk about your website? Get in touch here.

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