Often clients email VAP Services requesting a review of their existing law firm or solo attorney website; asking for suggestions on how to improve rankings, client contacts, social media follows, etc… We begin by identifying the legal website’s preliminary focus:
- Is the attorney website strictly for informational purposes only or to obtain new clients?
- Is the law firm website selling any E-books or other types of products besides representation?
- What primary actions do current users take on the website?
Once the legal practice website purpose and focus are identified, we move on to specific areas: architecture, aesthetics, and overall usability.
First, we’ll focus on ease-of-use, specifically navigation and your site map. User experience is vital, as a result if visitors can’t find information or conversion rates are low, there’s a big problem, but it’s fixable.
Here are some navigational questions to ask:
- Can a user easily navigate and is the ‘main navigation’ easy to locate? Many attorney websites have multiple site maps and basically users don’t know which to use. A website needs to be easy to navigate through or the user will leave and go on to the next law firm site and contact them instead.
- How organized is the website navigation? Do the links make sense? Is there redundancy? Are the links logically organized? Email and phone numbers visible?
- How many “clicks” does it take to get to my information? Unlike a Tootsie Roll pop, you don’t want that number to exceed four or five, and the fewer the clicks, the better.
The following questions focus on branding and aesthetics:
- Does the attorney website offer appropriate branding vs the firm’s overall brand? Take Apple for instance. Whether you’re viewing an Apple commercial, perusing their website, or visiting a local Apple store, the message and overall look and feel is consistent. There’s no question it’s Apple. With that in mind are all of the website’s pages consistent in its web design and legal web content? If you own multiple domains are they all consistent, even your attorney blog postings?
- Are the pages organized? NEVER overwhelmed users with information. The worst web design to have is the one that leaves your user feeling exhausted just looking at it… The way information is laid out on a page is very important.
- Are forms of communication clearly visible? Having communication links are very important if you want your users to perform specific tasks on your website; “Call our law firm today” – “Subscribe to our legal newsletter” – “Follow us on Facebook”.
These are only a few of the important questions we ask when reviewing a legal website. The ultimate goal is to optimize the law firm’s website so it can accomplish what it’s meant to accomplish while providing its visitors a positive user experience.
An additional piece of the web design puzzle often over looked is the ‘Contact Form’. Often clients assume any template will be sufficient and tell us to just “make it simple.” It’s a bit more complicated then that. Below are a few best practices for web contact forms specific to law firm websites.
Keep it Short
Keep your form as short as possible; Name, Email, Phone Number, and Case Details. The more fields you include, the more likely the reader will stop filling out the form and move on to your competitor.
Make it Simple
Likely you will be calling this person back and don’t need a long stroy written. Ensure your website allows a restriction on how many characters a potential client can write. This will keep it as simple as possible. The suggested amount is between 250-300 characters for law firm website ‘Contact Forms’.
Above the Fold
Contact forms above the fold are more likely to be filled out. “Above the fold” is an industry term that refers to the browser’s viewable area when the site loads. Try keeping contact forms on sidebar, footer or pop-up overlays.
Always include a confirmation page. Let the user know when and how you are going to respond. The confirmation page is a great time to set expectations regarding your contact method, speed and qualifications.
Call People Back
People are eager to get in touch with you otherwise they wouldn’t have wasted their time filling out the ‘Contact Form’. Call them back the same hour if possible, definitely same day. If you wait several days, they most likely have moved on to another firm.