Over the past eight years, NMC has designed and built dozens of websites for law firms and professional services firms. Along the way, we've identified a few features that not only make law firm websites stand out, but can lead directly to an increase in sitewide engagement and conversions. Whether you're a small two-person shop or a large firm with multiple locations and hundreds of attorneys, having some (or all!) of these features incorporated in your website's design can be the difference between having a good website and having a great online marketing tool for your firm.
1) Responsive web design
As Nathan mentioned in his post on Web Design and Development Trends for 2015, more and more people are using tablets and smartphones to access the web across the world. For some websites, as much as 50% (or more) of all traffic comes from mobile users. A responsive design ensures that you have a tailored experience for devices of all screen resolutions and that you’re not alienating mobile visitors with a site that is cumbersome to navigate on a phone (ie. No more pinching and panning.) Responsive web design means the site can scale to different resolutions from large screens all to way to mobile devices, and each size will reorder the content in an optimal way.
The benefits of responsive web design for a law firm are especially significant. Responsive design ensures that users on the go can get information about a specific attorney or practice area or 'click-to-call' the firm. Frustrating mobile experiences can lead users to navigate back to search engine results without spending time on your website. Responsive design also demonstrates to current and potential clients that your firm is on the cutting-edge of new technology, differentiating you from competitors that may have older websites. Finally, responsive design is good for SEO. Google not only recommends responsive design as the best way to target mobile users, but its algorithm also favors mobile-optimized sites when it generates search engines results for mobile devices.
2) Attorney search based on multiple criteria
One of the primary goals of website design for any industry is to connect people with the information they seek. Visitors on law firm websites might be looking up articles or learning more about a specific practice area, but more likely than not, they're looking for an attorney. Having a firm directory of your attorneys is helpful, but prospective clients appreciate the ability to easily search and drilldown results for attorneys in your firm based on multiple criteria like location or expertise. Particularly for a larger firm with 20+ attorneys, multiple practice areas and office locations like, we recommend implementing an easy-to-use tool on the website (like the Ward and Smith, P.A. Our Team Search) so site visitors can quickly find an attorney in their desired practice area and location. We have custom built attorney/practice area/location search tools for multiple sites that allow users to filter which attorneys practice in each area and in each office. Additionally, links to tagged attorneys will appear in the Practice Area page and Location page sidebars, and vice versa, giving the site and its pages complete interactivity.
3) Quick, convenient methods to contact
Law firm websites should always give users several ways to quickly get in touch with the firm. Some firms unintentionally hide this information on the website to help be clear that a contact form submission or email does not initiate an attorney-client relationship. Although the immediacy of need to contact varies by practice area (personal injury and family law clients may use this tool more frequently than real estate development clients,) it's important that users have options. Some tactics for accomplishing this well include a general inquiries Contact form, a phone number in the website's header so it appears on every page, and email addresses for individual attorneys listed on their profile pages.
4) Blog for content creation
Content marketing (creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content on your website) is a perfect fit for lawyers and law firms. Attorneys are great candidates to be successful at content marketing because they are good writers, they have information that others need and writing content shows off what they know about recent legislation or updates to the law. All great law firm websites have, and maintain, a blog. Content creation can be made a priority in your firm by incentivizing your Rainmakers to generate a post once a month, while encouraging other attorneys to think about ways to extend the life of their content.
Also keep in mind that indexed and useful posts on a law firm website contribute to the site ranking for a variety of terms in search engines. Take a look at our guide on tips for law firms blogging for more information.
5) Content linked to practice areas.
It's one thing to have a blog on your law firm's website, and most successful firm sites in 2014 have already implemented a blog. Great law firm websites make the content work double-duty for the site by aggregating relevant articles on practice area pages. Let's say you write a post about 5 Common Myths for the 2015 Tax Season in January, publish it on your blog and publicize it on social media. A few weeks later, that post may be difficult to find if its been 'pushed' to the second page of your blog.
For our clients, we recommend tagging blog content based on practice areas, then feed those posts to each practice area's page on the website. This keeps the practice area pages looking fresh, gives you another opportunity to get eyes in front of your content, and also demonstrates your team's knowledge about recent legislation or timely issues relating to that practice area.
6) Social media on attorney profiles
Although not all law firms or attorneys were early adopters of social media, social media usage for law firms is on the rise. Many attorneys now have their own professional social media channels (or, at the least, a LinkedIn profile) where they disseminate information and connect with clients. We recommend adding social media links on each attorney's own profile page. Including this information on attorney profiles gives your team members personality, builds their own brand and gives direct access to prospective clients.
If your firm engages with clients on its own social media properties (like Facebook,) links to those should definitely be included on the site. Learn more on our blog about some common mistakes law firms make with Facebook pages to make sure you're getting the most out of your firm's social media efforts!
7) Client testimonials
So much of a law firm's success in bringing in new business hinges on referrals and word-of-mouth. Why not capitalize on this centuries-old tactic by incorporating client testimonials on your website? Client testimonials (video, written, etc.) add personality, credibility and trusting to your firm's brand. Have a client who was especially pleased with your work? Ask them to leave you a review on your Google+ business page for a boost in your Local SEO ranking potential.
8) Don't use stock photos.
Although web-savvy will range considerably amongst visitors to your website, it's always easy to spot stock photography. Since modern web design often includes large, high-resolution images, put a face to the firm and show off your offices by using your own team and locations for these images. Depending on the size of the firm, you don't necessarily need to hire a team of professional photographers to stage candid shots of attorneys huddled around the front desk, but you probably don't want to use iphone photos, either. Our client Batten Lee utilizes photographs of their own attorneys and office lobby on their website to create a warm, personal, engaging look and feel for the site.
What are some other features that contribute to a great law firm website? I'd love to hear what I missed!
Interested in learning more about rebuilding your own law firm's website? We're here to help! Learn more about New Media Campaigns' law firm website design services.