Law Firm Website Design
So, you don’t have a website, or a good website. Stop waiting and start building. If you don’t have a website, you are missing out on a huge potential for new clients. More than ever, people are using Google to find a lawyer - not the yellow-pages.
If you want a custom, professional website, I highly recommend using a company that builds lawyer websites. Yes, you will probably pay around $5000 for a good company, but this cost is worth it. It will be much less than you would pay for an ineffective Yellow Pages campaign. The difference between an amateur/ template website, and a custom well designed website, can be the difference between getting the potential client, or losing them to your competition.
There are many different things you will probably want to incorporate into your website. I will go into them in more detail, but here is my list of must haves:
Top 10 List
An image/ video of you or your firm
A contact form (or at a minimum your contact information)
A page of your results (within the boundaries of the rules of professional conduct)
Attorney Profiles (with pictures)
Office Locations & Directions
Support for Mobile Devices (iPad, iPhone, etc.)
A way for you to easily update your website
It is a very good idea to put a video (better yet multiple videos) on your website. The goal is not to brag, but to let the visitor see and hear from you. This is especially important if you do not have a prior relationship with the client as this will be their first instance to learn about you. You won’t get a second chance to create a first impression.
You should have a professional high quality video. You can usually tell on websites when the lawyer uses a webcam, or even worse, an old phone to film video.
30 seconds to a minute is an ideal length. People have a short attention span. This gives you enough time to briefly explain yourself and hopefully, how you can help.
While it is good to have high quality video, this does not mean you need high definition or 1080p quality video. Large size videos could have a problem playing correctly on the visitor’s computer if they do not use a fast enough broadband connection. This is especially true if they are using a mobile device.
There are a few good reasons to have a blog on your website. A blog is sort of like a journal. You should frequently be adding posts to let the visitor know about current trends, important cases, or anything else you think they might like to know.
By writing about various topics, you are showing the visitor that you are staying current on the law, and you have a firm knowledge of different areas. It lets them know you are the expert/ the go-to-guy.
An added bonus of regularly writing good blog articles is that your website will rank much better on the search engines, especially Google. Google likes websites with lots of content. The more the better - as long as it is good content. Additionally, Google recently updated their search algorithm to take into account “freshness”. This means, if your site keeps getting new content on a regular basis, your ranking will increase.
It is imperative that your website have a good layout and professional feel to it. Do not have flashing banners, introduction music, hard to read text, or anything else that will annoy the visitor.
Many business websites have similar features. Users have been accustomed to this. If you try and make it fancy and put things in hard to find places, you can frustrate the visitor.
Most websites will have a logo / contact information at the top. Under that is usually the main menu. It is a good practice to have a contact us button on the right side/end of that menu. You should also have your contact information/ firm name at the bottom of the website as this is a standard practice. Many websites will also have a side menu.
Websites, like other forms of advertisements, have what is referred to as “above the fold”. This refers to the area the user will see when they first open your webpage. It excludes everything else that a user has to scroll to get to. The things you want above the fold include contact information, your firm’s name, a menu that includes practice areas, office locations, and other useful information, and probably a slideshow or videos.
Show off your Results
One of the best ways to help the visitor know you can help them is by showing off some of your results. Most states will allow this under the rules of professional conduct. Some states do have specific requirements such as listing docket numbers.
One thing you should not do is make false or misleading results. Obviously, do not make up results. To alleviate concerns that your results are misleading, you will want a disclaimer. Again, see if your local rules have a specific requirement or magic words.
A sample disclaimer is: “Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee future results. No Attorney can guarantee or promise a specific outcome. Each case and each client are different.”
Additionally, some states will want you to list somewhere on your website if it is considered an advertisement. Generally, if you are posting results from a court case it will be public information and you would not need client consent. However, if it is a juvenile case, settlement negotiations, or any court proceeding not open to the public, get your client’s permission. You do not want to disclose confidential information in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Similar to results, a page of testimonials may be beneficial. If you use testimonials it can be better to give a full name (although some clients might not want this). Again, get their permission.
Another successful method to alleviate concerns that you are making up testimonials is to have the person who is giving you a testimonial write it out on a piece of paper. You can then scan it in and post the image to your website. This could make it appear more authentic and genuine.
Many users will be finding your website with their mobile device (Iphone, Ipad, mobile phone, etc). The number is growing every day. You can actually track through Google Analytics how many people visit your website through a mobile device.
There are three important differences between mobile users, and visitors using a laptop/desktop. First, the size of mobile devices are smaller. (Although devices like Ipad or other tablets are pretty big and this should not be a concern).
You want to make sure your important information will be easily readable for these visitors. Since they are using a phone, it is also a good idea to have a call to button, where they can just click the link to call you. On a mobile device, your “above the fold” area is much smaller.
Compatibility can be a concern. Many mobile devices do not display images or videos. Also, the type of video can be a problem. Iphones/ Ipads, for example, at the time of writing this website, will not play flash videos (It does support HTML 5).
Finally, many mobile phones are slow to browse. If you have lots of content, especially images on your site, it can take an incredibly long time to load. (Also, pages that load slow on a regular computer is not a good thing).
In order to compensate for mobile devices, you have a few different options. One, do nothing (not recommended). Two, have your website distinguish mobile visitors and load different pages for them. Such as loading a page without videos, multiple graphics, tons of text, etc.
Or, you can have a “responsive” website. Responsive websites are among the newest website features. A responsive website is one that adjusts what is displayed, and how it is displayed, depending on the size of the visitors screen. It will adjust accordingly.
Design your Website to Get a High Conversion Rate
A conversion rate is a percentage of how many people visit your website compared to how many people contact you. You can expect this to be a low number. 3-5% is good, and can be very profitable. If your conversion rate is less than 2%, you should work on improving your website.
It can be difficult to know exactly why people aren’t contacting you. One primary reason could be they were not looking for a lawyer. It is important to optimize your website for relevant keywords and then to track the keywords your visitors use to find your website. This will give you a good idea of what people are searching for when they find you.
Another reason people may not contact you might be they do not like your content, message, or appearance. These are all things you can directly influence. If you follow my advice regarding your layout, you should have a professional looking website.
Your main goal in designing your websites is to inform the potential client how you can help them. Some people prefer lawyers who specialize in one area. Some people will want lawyers with lots of experience. Some people want the cheapest lawyer (I do not recommend optimizing a site to get these clients as you should be trying to get the clients who want a good lawyer and are willing to pay for your expertise). Finally, some people will just pick the first lawyer they find who is closest to them.
You can demonstrate that you have lots of experience, and have helped many clients in similar situations without bragging. Again, the goal is to let the visitor know how you can help them.
Call to Action
A call to action is something that helps instruct the visitor to take the next step and contact you. It could be as simple as telling the visitor “call us now”, or “call us for a free consultation”, or a “contact us form”, a live chat, or something such as a free guide.
You can have multiple calls to action. Whatever you choose to do, just let the visitor know what they should do next to retain your services.
Lots of Articles and Lots of Content
As the saying goes, “content is king.” The more content you have on your website, the better it will rank. The more content you have, the more likely the visitor is to see that you know what you are talking about and that you can help them. Simply put, you want lots of content on your website.
Again, you should keep in mind that the content is designed to help the visitor let them know how you can help them. This does not mean you need to give legal advice. Just by writing about the court process, or about car accidents, you will be giving the visitor valuable advice. You also will be letting them know you are experienced, and your knowledge can help them.
Once you have written your good articles, it is important to optimize the articles so that the search engines will rank them highly. Having a relevant title for your page is important. For example, if your article was about car accidents, a good title might be “Car accident lawyers City State”.
Throughout the article, you will also want to have certain keywords. Generally the word lawyer, attorney, and your city and state are good keywords. However, Google does not like keywords stuffing. It will not help your article to have the word lawyer appear in it 100 times. Once or twice is enough.
You should be making regular postings of new blog articles, or other articles to your website. For most markets one to two a week is good. Assuming you do not have a background in computer programming, you will want an easy way to make these posts and changes to your website. Fortunately, with newer technology there is a way to easily make changes to your website/make new blog postings.
All of the blogs I have seen make it easy for someone to make a new post. You will not need to know html code/programming. If you can write an email, you can make a blog post. There is really no reason not to have a blog on your website. Almost all of the websites I have built incorporate a blog.
Besides having a blog, you may want to make new articles, or update the pages of your website. To do this you have a couple options. Bug your webmaster (not very efficient) or, have a website that was designed with a content management system (CMS). If your webmaster designed your website with CMS software, you can easily add pages/make changes. All of the websites I have built in the last couple of years have used CMS. When picking a company to do your website design & development, ask them if you can easily make changes to your website.
Besides having up-to-date accurate information, new content will help your SEO rankings. Google has recently added a freshness factor to their algorithm. If your site has new content added on a regular basis, it will be rewarded by Google.