Explore the central role website design plays in your law firm’s digital marketing.
Thirty years ago, the idea of having a website for your law firm would have been met with only one response: What’s a website? Twenty years ago, the same idea would have seemed like a luxury that only the larger, more recognized firms needed to bother with. Ten years ago it was practically a requirement, and at this point you’re actively hurting yourself if you don’t have one. Having a well designed, informative website is an integral part of establishing your firm’s presence online. And optimizing that site for search engines—to ensure that people searching for your service find you—is the key to successful web design for lawyers.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go deep into the subject of designing a website for your law firm—and we’ll hardly talk about how it looks (pro tip: make it look good). That’s because the most important aspect of planning and building a website is search engine optimization (SEO). Some of that has to do with its visual elements, but most of it is centered on making sure your website demonstrates your credibility and professionalism. You’ll make your and your partners’ credentials known, and keep the site current with regular content. In 2023, this is how your firm gets a leg up over the competition, improving your visibility, conversion rates, and overall growth.
The old expression of “hanging out your shingle” to signify you’ve opened the doors of your business doesn’t really translate in the modern day. Perhaps we should just call it going “going live,” because launching your website serves a similar purpose. You’ve set up the virtual storefront for your law firm, probably the first point of contact for anyone seeking legal services.
There’s another other old expression and this one will never go out of style—”You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This will always be true, for the sheer logic of it, but the psychology behind it is all too true, as well. People’s first impression of you informs every single interaction that follows. If your website is a turnoff, no one will follow up with a call. But beyond that initial conversion, there are a few more reasons attorneys should take extra care with their website design:
Though there’s a small likelihood that a full time lawyer has either the skill or the time to build her own website, we’ve still written this guide with those full time lawyers very much in mind. Whether or not you’re doing the coding yourself, though, you will be an instrumental part of the process. You should plan to be, anyway.
This guide will get you thinking about the goals of your website, and how you can best build it to achieve those goals. As you collaborate with your web designer, you should always bring your own ideas to the table. Likewise, you should have a full understanding of your designer’s professional language. You should be able to communicate your vision, and be savvy enough to know if it’s being realized.
By reading this guide, you’ll be better prepared for those conversations. And if you’re going DIY? We’ve got you covered there, too. Over the next many pages, we’ll provide you with:
Does SEO planning require a good site design? Or does good site design require SEO planning? Honestly, both perspectives are true. This is why it’s best not view each of these aspects separately—decisions made about the look of the website affect decisions about its optimization, and vice-versa. Neither of these things exists in a vacuum, a statement that makes more sense when you consider what Google is looking for with its algorithms.
A user-friendly experience is a huge part of search engine algorithms showing favor to your website. This means an attractive design, with clearly organized navigation and easy-to-find information. Be careful that your site performs well, too. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the flashier elements of site design. Really, though, web design for attorneys rarely needs to include resource-intensive things like animations, video, or sound. A more minimalist approach is the appropriate choice; people and algorithms will judge a book by its cover (or a site by its home page).
Your site should also be optimized for mobile devices. More than half of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, so creating a responsive site that serves mobile optimized content is no longer an option. And, whether on desktop or mobile, the content itself needs to be well organized and accessible. That doesn’t just mean the navigation options are well laid out, but also that the pages themselves are formatted for easy reading. You’ll want to break the content into sections, using heading tags of different sizes, and optimized metadata under the hood. Here are a couple of content design rules for both desktop and mobile pages:
Again, it’s important to remember that these design elements are here for both people and algorithms. While an algorithm can’t make a subjective opinion over which websites “look good” and which ones don’t, it can detect the presence of these tags, and consider how often and where they’re used, to determine how organized you’ve structured the information on the page. People, on the other hand, are very much making subjective judgments about the look and feel of your website. You’re not going to please everyone with whatever aesthetics you choose, but if the content is organized and easy to access, that will keep people coming back.
Today, having a website is like having a business card. It’s an easy way to give your contact information, for one thing. Ten-digit phone numbers aren’t as memorable as yourlawfirmsname.com. A website serves as more than just a digital calling card, though. It’s also a brochure of your services, providing evidence of your knowledge and experience in law. But with a little planning and some regular attention, the design of your website could be a catalyst for growth.
There’s no business that doesn’t benefit from having an increased online presence; for a higher end business like legal services it would be questionable if you didn’t have one. A professional and aesthetically pleasing website is your first shot at defining your business online, and one of the few places where you have complete control over the narrative. The design should be undertaken with an eye toward making it easier for potential clients to find and engage with your firm.
Remember that your design is part of your overall branding, so keep it cohesive with the rest of your existing marketing materials. By aligning the visual elements of your website with your logo, you enhance your branding and tie it more tightly to your firm’s story. With your image reinforced through your website design, and the site’s copy highlighting your background and past successes, make sure to include several calls to action across multiple pages. It’s not enough for your site to make your presence known, you’ve got to give your audience ways to get in touch with you.
A well-crafted website not only conveys professionalism and credibility but it can work as a growth tool. By following best practices for SEO—and integrating your web design with your optimization strategy—your law firm can stand out from the competition, get found on search engines, and attract the right clients.
And what is the right client? Well, that’s for you to decide: like any business, you need to understand your target audience. That will depend on the kind of law you practice, and the area you’re in. Whatever demographic you decide is your target audience, you’ll want to make sure that your website speaks directly to that audience. The site itself may exist to benefit your law firm, but the content on it should benefit your clients, existing and potential.
The whole point of your website is to support your existing clients and attract new ones. So it stands to reason that you’d want to build out with these current and future customers in mind. As you begin to plan the site and its content, here are ten things you can do to ensure a finished product that serves its purpose:
Using content like this is a proven method of driving traffic to your website. If the content is what you use to get people to your website, then the actual website design is critical for law firms—it’s the first visual impression you’re making on these potential clients. As much as the content is designed so people can read something informative and insightful, it needs to look good, too. Maybe your readers don’t notice anything special about the design; it’s fine if it goes unnoticed. What you don’t want is something amateurish or ugly.
And you probably aren’t a graphic designer.
The decision about hiring a professional agency to design and build your site shouldn’t be a question of whether or not you’ll hire someone. It should only be: which agency will you hire? Even if you have in-house expertise, or your cousin’s kid is “really into it,” you should heed the advice you’d give others about the law: leave it to the pros. It’s the only way esure that all the aspects of your site design are handled.
A nice bonus of this is that agencies operate a bit like law firms, in terms of specialties. If they’re good at their job, it won’t be hard to find a decent digital marketing agency that specializes in website design for law firms. If you can’t find them on Google’s page one, you probably don’t want to hire them.
There are two big reasons why you’d want to find an agency with an impressive portfolio of legal clients. That portfolio itself is a big stack of references, telling you that this agency understands the specialized needs of a law firm—to say nothing of the aesthetic aspect of branding. Having that much business in a single industry acts as its own glowing reference. Which gets us to reason number two: that much experience means there’s a lot that doesn’t need to be explained. Just like you should speak the language of your intended audience, an agency doing legally-focused work will speak yours. They’ve been doing it for awhile, and know not only the buzzwords, but the pitfalls, of your profession. Assuming you’ve vetted them for knowledge/experience with website design for lawyers, you’ll want to make sure they can check all these boxes:
Hiring the right agency to create your law firm’s website is crucial for establishing a strong online presence and attracting clients. But it’s also up to you to know your business and the value your law firm brings. Any good marketing agency will have a bunch of questions for you, and you should come prepared with the same. Here are some questions you should ask when considering a web design agency:
Reviewing their portfolio is a good way to assess the agency’s experience and see if their design style aligns with your firm’s vision. It’s also important to pay attention to repetition, if any, from client to client.
Understanding their approach, from initial concept to launch, will help you gauge their professionalism and organization. It can also let you know if your styles match. Some people don’t want to be bothered with a bunch of questions, others work with a paper trail, some agencies are more collaborative than others. Make sure your cultures align.
With a growing number of users accessing websites on mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is essential. But what will that actually do for you? An agency should be able to see how to make mobile work you.
Knowing how long it will take to complete your website can help you plan other aspects of your online strategy. Maybe you’ve got a case that’s making news and you want to capitalize on that, or you just want the site to coincide with a new partner starting. Whatever the reason, ensure that the agency will be able to meet your deadlines.
As highly skilled laborers providing a service, attorneys know as well as anyone that someone’s time is valuable. Just make sure how valuable before you sign off on anything, making sure to get a detailed breakdown of costs, hours, and including any potential additional expenses.
Some agencies will want total ownership of the content creation process (for your blog and such). If you’re fine with any old content being published in your name, by all means, go for it. Obviously, we recommend that you don’t do that. At the very least you should be working with them to approve topics, at best you should be writing a few posts here and there—it’s your expertise people are after. Let the agency clean the words up, but this is one area where it’s good to be involved.
Unlike content creation, this is an area you’ll want nothing to do with. Make sure maintenance, updates, and fixes are all taken care of, paid for, and out of your hands. Have it all spelled out in a contract.
Search engine optimization is vital for your website’s visibility. Inquire about their SEO expertise and strategies, and if the downplay its need or don’t immediately have an expert to farm that out to, seek another agency. SEO services ought to be part of your website design from day one. It’s best if the people designing your site are able to do it.
Web design for lawyers needs to take security into account, right from the start. Attorneys often use their websites to handle sensitive client information, so ask the agency what measures they’ve taken in the past? They should just be familiar with security technology, but also the special requirements around document handling and client information.
A well-designed website is a critical tool for law firms to attract and convert potential clients. By incorporating clean and professional design, responsive and mobile-friendly elements, user-friendly navigation, compelling content, strong CTAs, trust and credibility indicators, SEO optimization – law firms can create a successful online presence. Remember, web design for law firms should prioritize aesthetics, usability, credibility, and lead generation to maximize its effectiveness in attracting and converting clients.
Is your law firm looking for an exceptional web design partner? Look no further than Gladiator Law Marketing! As experts in the legal marketing arena, we understand the unique needs and challenges faced by law firms. Our team combines technical proficiency with creative flair to deliver award-winning, user-friendly websites that enhance your firm’s online presence. Our designs are custom and revolve around the personality of your law firm.
Ready for an amazing website? Call the Gladiator Law Marketing team at 888-683-3212.