Today’s legal marketplace demands that attorneys and law firms stand out from the crowd, especially when it comes to online marketing. You need prospective clients to notice you.
One way to differentiate your services is with a professional, valuable, user-friendly, and visually-appealing law firm website. No matter what people are searching for these days—be it a restaurant, gym, or doctor, they are looking online. Often, it’s the first place they look.
Your law firm needs to have a well-designed, effective website in today’s age if you want to keep growing your firm. It doesn’t matter how a potential legal client finds their attorney; they will more than likely use the internet to learn more information. This means that those that don’t have great law firm websites won’t be found – and the metrics are clear; the top law firm websites provide a tremendous ROI.
The 2019 Legal Trends Report reveals that 57 percent of consumers looked for a lawyer independently. The most common research methods they used were online search engines (17 percent) and visiting a lawyer’s website (17 percent). Even if clients receive personal referrals, keep in mind that they will likely be looking for information about those recommendations online as well as other client success stories.
All of this considered, you can almost guarantee that legal clients will sign with other firms if your online presence is lacking. In fact, having a poor, unprofessional website may even be worse than not having a firm website at all. If you are going to invest in a website, go all in and make it the best that it can be.
Your law firm’s website content, images, and design should be a reflection of your firm and its values. It establishes your credibility and authority in the legal world and helps establish trust. An informative, compelling, user-friendly website is an ideal way to make your practice discoverable to clients searching online for an attorney.
Law Firm Website Best Practices
Whether you run a large firm with an endless marketing budget or a small firm with a minimal one, you can take several best practice steps to improve your law firm website.
Aim for Simple and Unique
When it comes to the homepage and overall law firm web design, less truly is more.
Remember that your law firm website is a reflection of your brand, and it’s often what a potential client will use to form their first impression of your firm. Of course, there are ready-made templates that you can personalize in some ways, but the best law firm websites don’t look like hundreds of other firms.
Creating a unique impression is your goal. Suppose your law firm website looks like all the others. In that case, it won’t stand out, and potential clients won’t remember you apart from the half dozen other attorney websites they visited.
When designing your web page, think about the message you want your future and existing clients to receive. For example, it’s a good idea to incorporate the use of “hero areas” on your homepage. These are larger areas with an image with text or just an image or text.
Since these are large areas, they immediately draw the visitor’s attention, setting the visual tone for the rest of your homepage and website. However, don’t use too many of these areas as it makes the page too busy and noisy for many readers. So, be picky when selecting hero areas and what you put in them.
In general, many law firms and solo practitioners mistakenly include too much content on their homepage, creating confusion and a poor user experience. Think about the most important content and images you want website visitors to see and eliminate everything else.
You can also rely on bold and easy-to-read fonts and bullet points to help present and stress critical information for readers to notice. Although it’s best to keep your use of colors to a minimum, you can add some color to certain text to help draw attention to it.
You should also consider that some of your visitors will be visiting from laptops and mobile phones, so ensure your pages aren’t just designed for a large monitor size and don’t contain features too complex for mobile devices. They need to be mobile friendly.
Even if your own law firm website statistics show that you have more users on desktop, one of the ways Google ranks search engine results is by mobile-friendliness. As such, improving how your site appears on a mobile device will help potential clients find you.
Font Size Matters
It’s usually better to incorporate larger, more readable font sizes for your law firm website content. With improvements in screen resolution, many displays show smaller fonts in an almost too small to read size. Examine some of your favorite websites and carefully consider which font sizes you find easier for viewing and reading.
Most people prefer sites that use larger fonts. Unfortunately, too many law firms and attorneys only use tiny fonts on their pages, making their content nearly unreadable and not very visually appealing.
Include a Call to Action (CTA)
The call to action (CTA) on your firm’s homepage is essential to draw visitors deeper into your site.
You should consider a few crucial points when designing a CTA, including the following:
- Where will your CTA go? (Above the fold so it’s visible on the monitor when the page first loads is ideal.)
- Does the CTA stand out from the other content on your site?
- Link your CTA to another page on your site so that your call to action will draw the visitor deeper into your site
- Create a less-emphasized alternative variation to use further down on the page or other pages
- You can test the design, content, and placement to determine what works best for your website
Don’t overload your homepage or any of your pages, for that matter, with multiple CTAs. Pick one or two that you can focus on. Too many calls to action can confuse or even cause visitors to feel pressured or rushed.
Highlight Your Legal Services and Attorney Profiles
When designing your website, remember that you are still selling a service. This fact needs to be showcased on your home page.
Most prospective clients are looking for two pieces of information that will help them make their hiring decision. The first is what services you offer, and the second is your attorney profiles. Don’t forget that you only have a few seconds to make a great first impression, and you want to make a professional one that will draw visitors in.
Cohesiveness is Key
Your website will likely contain several different pages. You want to keep a cohesive design throughout each page. This will help reinforce your brand and keep everything visually appealing. All of your pages should maintain a similar layout and design. Unrelated designs for various pages can confuse visitors.
Don’t Waste Visitor Time
Web users get impatient quickly while waiting for websites to load. They are used to receiving and consuming information at lightning speed. If your website is too laden with complicated graphics and your hardware infrastructure and bandwidth don’t support its design, visitors may not wait for your page to load.
Instead, they’ll move on to the next attorney’s website and not think twice about you. The good news is that you can improve site load times with good hosts and keeping your design simple—which you should be doing anyway.
Rely On Responsive Designs
A responsive design fluidly changes and responds to fit any screen or device size, even a mobile device. This is important as mobile devices account for an increasing percentage of web traffic. In fact, some businesses, such as Facebook, have more people accessing their sites via a mobile device than a desktop computer.
Remember that prospective clients need and want to access your site from various devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. As many as half of all prospects frequently access law firm websites via a mobile device. The bonus is that Google and other search engines offer many search engine ranking benefits for responsive websites.
Organization Provides Better User Experiences
An organized website will help visitors navigate their way around, and it is preferential to search engines and increasing law firm search engine optimization (SEO). When potential clients arrive on your site, they usually seek specific information. Rarely will they read an entire page.
Instead, they will skim headlines, small portions of texts, bullet points, and graphics or photos. An organized website that presents information in a structured and organized manner will help them find their way around much easier.
Site maps and drop-down menus that make logical sense can go a long way. Good headlines are a must, as most readers ignore the content below a headline if it’s not an interesting one.
You may want to consider a secondary and obvious index for better organization and ease of use for your visitors. This way visitors can easily find what they are most likely there for— usually contact information, services, attorney bios, and reviews/testimonials.
Content is King
Suppose you know much about the internet and marketing. In that case, you likely already know that search engines like Google index sites by the quality of their content and links. Generally, the more content you include, the more a search engine will like a page.
Like search engines, people also gravitate toward content. Poor-quality content can quickly scare a visitor and potential client away. Your content should provide value to your readers and be helpful. It won’t rank high with search engines if it doesn’t check these boxes.
When deciding what content to put on your website, remember it’s all about the user experience (UX). Don’t just put something on your website because you think it looks good or you think that it improves the UX.
Do your research and use analytics to determine what website visitors are and aren’t clicking on and what they might find useful. Just because another law firm’s website has something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your website.
Look at the Competition
Studying the best law firm websites of your successful competitors, firms you admire, and other online examples, can help you create a vision for what you want. Look at their websites and examine how they showcase their services to their current and potential clients.
Pay close attention to their law firm web design, including the colors, voice, use of graphics, illustrations, and photos, and their site organization overall. You might find something you can focus on to do differently—for example, using bolder colors.
You can even benefit from studying underperforming law firm websites. Think about what it is that doesn’t make their firm website inviting or appealing and how you can make yours different from theirs.
What a Robust Law Firm Website Includes
Unfortunately, there is no simple law firm website design template you can rely on to create the perfect legal website. However, there are certain pages you can add to provide a positive and practical experience for your website’s visitors.
Your homepage is often the first page visitors see when searching for your law firm. You only have a matter of seconds to make a good first impression. It doesn’t matter if you are a large international law firm or a solo practice lawyer.
You need a homepage that accomplishes several essential goals and incorporates several aspects of law firm website design:
- Quickly and briefly communicates precisely what you do and the benefits your practice offers
- Captures the visitor’s attention with eye-catching images
- Establishes credibility immediately
- Provides an overview of the legal services your firm offers
- Compels your visitor to take the next logical action step
- Helps visitors to locate answers to the legal questions they have
- Contains a simple and effective way to contact you
- Is easily readable, uncluttered, and flows logically
The “Our Firm” page is a dedicated page where you should share some of your why. Here you can briefly explain why you and your firm are in business. On this page, you can incorporate the character and personality of your firm and put a human face on it. This is essential since lawyers and law firms can be an intimidating profession to many people.
When coming to your Our Firm page, visitors are looking for information to help them feel comfortable exploring their legal issues with you. As such, it shouldn’t merely be another sales page.
You should still include a call to action, but the focus of this copy should be you and your firm’s story—including how you have built credibility over the years and how you align with the needs of your target audience.
Robust attorney profiles are a must if you want your law firm to stand out from the rest. Remember that prospective legal clients choose attorneys before they choose a firm, and they want to know whom they are dealing with.
Each attorney bio should include the following:
- Practice areas
- Association memberships
- Representative matters or highlighted successes in prior transactions or cases
- Volunteer efforts/pro bono work
- A professional photo
- A limited amount of personal information to make the attorney more personable—such as hobbies, travel, or pets
- Specific contact information
- V-card downloads
Practice Area Pages
You want to have a page to showcase each area of your law firm practice areas. This fulfills the potential client’s need to know what services you offer. Pages pertaining to specific practice areas can also give them a deeper sense of what their case might involve, specific challenges they might face, and how you can help them through those challenges.
Pages for practice areas is where you may want to pay special attention to organization. For example, if part of your services is bankruptcy law, you should have a general bankruptcy page and then one for each type of bankruptcy.
Sub-category practice pages can make your law firm’s website more organized and help visitors find what they need more efficiently. Sub-categories provide navigability and relevance to your audience. They also improve law firm SEO by providing you an opportunity to use specific keyword phrases that you are targeting.
Not all lawyers and law firms include testimonials on their own website, but it’s a good idea to do so. Not only will it make your website more unique, but it will tell your visitors what you do well and why your past and current clients like working with you. While some firms shy away from including testimonials as they feel they are bragging, you are actually providing readers with firsthand information about working with your firm.
Like video marketing, video testimonials are often more effective than written testimonials if you can obtain them. However, these can sometimes be hard to produce for a law firm as many people are understandably reluctant to appear on camera about legal and personal matters.
Similar to testimonials, it’s never a bad idea to dedicate a page to your most recent successes. Provide a brief overview of the case or problem, its challenges, how you overcame them, and what the result was. A results page displays your abilities to effectively represent clients and deliver the best possible outcome. You may also want to organize these by case type and in chronological order.
Blogs and Firm News
Having a page on your website dedicated to your blog and firm news is also a good idea. Most modern websites have them. Posting blogs on a regular basis—at least one to two times per week keeps your content fresh and is beneficial for SEO. Providing consistent content also showcases to Google that you are a trustworthy authority in your area of legal expertise.
Posting blogs can also:
- Build trust with your current and future clients
- Establish your authority and credibility in your legal niche(s), as your clients may not be familiar with your professional practice area
- Keep you engaged with current clients
- Increase search engine rankings
- Help solve your client’s legal issues
- Keep others up to date on what is going on with your firm—such as a move to a new office, onboarding a new attorney, or any awards or recognitions that you receive
- Provide content for your social media accounts
If you don’t have the time, desire, or skills to write frequent blogs, consider hiring a third party to help you with this task.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Legal matters naturally raise many questions for people not in or familiar with the profession. What may seem obvious to you might not be obvious to your prospective clients. Having a dedicated FAQ page to break down and simplify these matters will provide a valuable service to your visitors and potential future clients.
On your FAQ page, concentrate on simplicity and clarity. Take the time to categorize questions into various practice areas and explain what anyone with little or no legal experience would want to know. If you aren’t sure what pages to put on your FAQ, just think about the most common questions you get asked by current and potential clients or even in your social circles about your area of law.
If your website has nothing else, it should have a contact page. While your contact details should be prominent on every page of your site, you should also have a dedicated contact us page to include phone numbers to reach your office, fax numbers, an email address, or a contact form potential clients can complete, your office address(es) and an embedded Google maps to display your precise location for those locations.
You may also choose to include your social media information on this page. It’s imperative to have a button on every page of your website that takes visitors to this page. You could lose potential clients if you don’t make it quick and easy to find.
Your contact information should be consistent across all your social media accounts, Google My Business account, and directory listings, as well as your website. In addition, you will need to decide on a consistent format for your address, phone number, email addresses, and other pieces of information.
Incorporating Images and Graphics on Your Website
A website’s images and graphics are key features in law firm website design. They help visitors to remain on the website once they are there, create an impression about the law firm, and add to the overall UX.
However, you don’t want to use too many images or graphics, which can detract from your content and the overall goal of getting a prospective client to contact you. Quality images that are appropriately placed will do wonders for every page of your website. They can also aid in cohesiveness and organization for your website.
You may also want to consider hiring a professional photographer to capture pictures of your attorneys, other staff members, or even your office. This will help your website look clean, polished, and professional, encouraging visitors to stay longer and improving your reputation.
The pictures you use on your website also serve a greater purpose than just making your law firm look good. Compelling images can drive traffic to your site, which leads to more conversions. Many law firms and solo practice attorneys miss opportunities simply because of their poor photos or lack of images.
Stiff headshots of lawyers, extremely outdated photos, pictures of people who no longer work there, and too many different colors in group shots can all be significant turn-offs to site visitors who might otherwise turn into clients. There’s no denying that humans are visual beings. Whether they consciously think about it or not, unattractive or uninviting images will negatively influence their decision-making.
Pictures and images can reveal much about your law firm and its values. Use these tips to ensure your law firm is leveraging pictures to its advantage on your website.
Friendly and Approachable
Of course, legal matters are usually serious, and your clients are frequently involved in serious issues. Even still, legal clients are much more likely to hire a friendly face that seems approachable than to hire someone who looks like they are arrogant or stiff and stern.
Prospective law clients may be scared and worried about the outcome of their legal issue; they want a compassionate individual that will support them while sympathizing with what they are going through. It’s your job to show them your firm has those people to help them, and one of the best ways to do that is through pictures.
Showcase Your Values and Benefits
Think about your law firm’s values and attempt to mirror them in your pictures.
- If you value authenticity, incorporate pictures of actual attorneys and employees on your website.
- Don’t use pictures that might show clutter or stacks of boxes in the office if you appreciate organization and order.
- If you value connectedness and functioning as a team, include some group photos with coordinating attire.You can also use images to highlight the extra benefits of hiring your firm. Maybe you want to show that your location is easily accessible, that there’s ample free parking, or a stunning view of the local scenery.
Add Captions for SEO
You might not realize that labeling your pictures with captions adds more content for SEO purposes. An accurate description of the photograph, along with some additional keywords or phrases, will boost your law firm SEO, increasing your firm’s opportunity to be found. However, make sure all your pictures are correctly tagged with the person’s name or other helpful SEO info. For example:
- For a picture of your office building, use the alt tag “XYZ Law Firm Building Brooklyn, NY”
- For a picture of a particular attorney, use the alt tag “Jane Doe, San Francisco divorce lawyer”
What about Domain Names?
Although a domain name isn’t technically a part of law firm website design, it does tie into your overall law firm marketing efforts. Consider your chosen domain name carefully, but don’t spend too much time worrying about it.
Previously, some law firms attempted to get exact word matches for search engine rankings. URLs were more easily obtainable in the past, and this was easier to do. For instance, a lawyer specializing in personal injury law in New York might get the domain newyorkpersonalinjuryattorney.com.
However, search engines have made countless algorithm updates throughout the last several years, and this is no longer a recommended practice. Suppose you can’t find an available URL that matches your firm or practice name. In that case, you can find an alternative URL that includes or compliments the name.
Stay away from lengthy domain names for law firm websites. Just because your firm has six named equity partners doesn’t mean your domain must include all their names. Some firms like this shorten their URL to the name of the first partner.
Finally, think about how the URLs on your law firm’s site will appear to search engines and real people. Whenever you can, use natural-sounding names for your URLs and titles.
Ethical Considerations for Law Firm Websites
Marketing your law firm online provides a significant growth opportunity. However, doing so also requires responsibility for attorneys and their law firms.
An attorney must ensure that their firm relies only on ethical, legal marketing practices, including anything on their law firm website. You must be well-versed in your jurisdiction’s rules and look to the American Bar Association (ABA) model rules of professional conduct for guidance. Doing so will help you remain compliant with your ethical obligations as an attorney while continuing to grow your firm.
Remember these ethical considerations for law firm website design and online marketing:
Be familiar with the rules. The easiest way to break the rules is not having knowledge of them— it’s essential to learn and follow the ethics and regulations related to law firm marketing and client communication when marketing your firm online.
Avoid common mistakes in the following areas:
- Testimonials: Testimonials help you highlight former clients’ positive experiences, but unfortunately, they also create opportunities to break ethical rules accidentally. Many ethics rules govern the use of testimonials, so it’s crucial to ensure you include the appropriate disclaimers for your jurisdiction if you include testimonials on your firm website.
- Blogs: Law firm blogs are increasingly popular. However, some state bars, including California’s, have issued ethical opinions that they are indeed advertising. This means attorneys are required to label it as advertising and retain copies of their blog posts for two years, along with other ethical requirements.
A Well Designed Website is Essential in Today’s Legal Industry
Whether you are a personal injury law firm, boutique corporate law firm, small law firm, or practice family law, the best law firm websites will improve SEO, garner qualified leads, provide for strong branding, bring in new clients, and establish credibility. While establishing a new website can be challenging, it’s essential in today’s legal industry.