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Marketing and website design for small law firms

January 23, 2021

Marketing and website design for small law firms go hand in hand. You could create a website that you think looks great - but if it doesn't load quickly, give visitors what they need within a few seconds and tell Google EXACTLY what every page is about, then you could be leaving website traffic and money from potential clients, on the table. 

How can you create a website for a small law firm on a budget?

Here are some ideas based on experience of working with websites that convert.

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 law firm's website is there to generate enquiries. Sometimes it looks nice that can help, but trust me, looking nice isn't the most important factor.

The business objective for a law firm website isn't to create something that looks good, it's to create a sales and marketing engine that drives enquiries and helps your law firm generate revenue. This is about marketing for law firms.

The best website design 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 website 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 for adding content and being flexible in future as well as the final product. 

What should 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. 

**note that some law firms want the website to "project the right image" of the law firm as the priority. There's no reason why it can't do this as well as get enquiries!


And what if it's a new website?

If you're creating a brand new law firm website, 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.

Find out more about how to get legal clients

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" may not be as profitable for you as "lasting power of attorneys".

Spy on competing 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 the 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

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 law firm's 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 visual 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 (if you're lucky) to 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 law firm, or why someone should choose you for a service in less than 8 seconds, and you're on to a winner. 

Law firm website 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 visitors first. It might look nice when you look at it on your laptop, but most of your visitors are going to come from mobile devices. So design it for mobile first.  

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 and blog or content pages. Service pages 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 why you should

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. 

Building your small law firm’s website

Before you choose a design and design templates for each website page, you want to consider 3 things.

  • The hosting -  this can make or break how quickly your website loads, so choose carefully. Some hosting providers are more reliable than others. Find out all about website hosting here.  
  • Domain name provider - the palace where you register your domain name [mywebsite.com] this is often the same company that provides your hosting, however there's no harm in having a separate domain name provider as you may wish to change your hosting depending on your requirements.
  • A CMS or content management system - allows you to upload and edit website content, as well as decide how your website is structured and looks.

There are plenty of great content management systems out there are and it's worth doing some research to determine which one is best for you. 

For our law firm websites we use WordPress, which is an open source content management system that can be cost-effective and easy to use.

WordPress websites consist of of themes and plugins that help a website perform the way you want it to.

You can select the pre-design theme that you like and add your own logo and branding or you can get a web designer to create a custom theme for you.

small law firm website design wordpress

WordPress can have some great long-term benefits for your law firms website and most themes with come with mobile-first designs meaning you won't have to create two versions of the site. 

It's customisable so if you have enough time I'm and are happy to to learn, you can can easily make edits to the visual appearance of the page without concerning yourself with coding.

The volume of plugins available provided by third parties means you can can make your WordPress site do pretty much anything you want, from fancy forms to quizzes.

Most importantly, you can easily take ownership of the website, with logins and passwords that your team has access to. So you aren't in the hands of a developer or designer if you want any changes made. 

What to do once your law firm website is live

Once live, give it a test to make sure it all looks well on mobile and desktop, then tell all your clients that you have a new site.

You should start measuring website visits, where they came from and how many enquiries you are getting. For this we use Google analytics, which requires you to install some tracking code.  

How do you make a good law firm website?

Here's a summary of how to make a good website for your law firm:

  1. 1
    Decide what your website is for
  2. 2
    Use existing website data & spy on competitors to make decisions
  3. 3
    Structure your website for SEO success
  4. 4
    Decide on your website branding - what do you want visitors to know?
  5. 5
    Create designs for Home, service, blog and contact pages
  6. 6
    Choose a CMS based on the above functionality
  7. 7
    Install analytics to track and measure success


How do you market a small law firm?

Paid ads, social media, content marketing and referrals are all great ways to market a small law firm. 

SEO can be particularly effective if done right. Find out how we increase website traffic by 918% using SEO.

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

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