Five Elements of an Effective Law Firm Website Design
Any business website needs to follow certain basic principles in order to best serve its clients. Elements like an easily navigable links menu, a consistent style or color scheme, and good contact information are universally effective. But law firms offer very specialized services, and as a result their websites call for special strategies. Here are five elements whose importance in law firm websites can't be argued.
1. Keywords are key.Most successful websites work not only because they have great content and style, but also because they know how to reach to potential clients. One of the easiest ways to raise your site's visibility is to make a point--at least on your homepage, and preferably throughout the site--of precisely stating the different types of law that your firm practices. A site that advertises expertise in civil, divorce, and personal injury law right on its main page is going to get more search-engine hits than one that buries that information all over the site.
2. Be personal… but not too personal.Putting up profiles for at least the partners in your firm, and preferably all practicing attorneys, is an obvious rule of thumb. But before you post a bunch of generic headshots and resumes, think carefully about what kind of content is going to be both useful and memorable. Photos that manage to seem personal while staying professional often inspire more trust and interest in viewers--so maybe everybody doesn't have to be posed in the same position against that one default background. Many sites also use the first-person voice in their biographies, so that each lawyer seems to speak in his or her own voice. That said, there is such a thing as being too… "interesting." However you express yourself, make sure that your content is always relevant to the practice of law and to your firm specifically.
3. Remember your audience.There are certain basic, generic elements that people expect of any law firm site, but the best ones also offer information that's tailored to likely clients. It's always a good idea to include content that's related to your state's laws, the community in which you practice, the most common kinds of cases that you see, or what's new and exciting in the legal field. Where possible, try to mention recent cases of special local interest that the firm has been involved in. On a similar note…
4. Pull out the big guns.A great resource and attention-getter for your site is a page dedicated to some of your firm's best and most important work. In addition to the awards and recognition that individual lawyers receive, publicize the firm's success as a team, whether in winning major cases or in representing important organizations on a regular basis. Perhaps most important: always keep this section up to date. A person might doubt that your firm can stay on top of his or her case if your whole website seems to be constantly lagging behind the times.
5. Make a good first impression.It's surprising how many law firms do all of these things right and more… but focus so much on the breadth of their whole site that their homepage starts to seem a little empty. You don't want big blocks of text and information overload for first-time visitors, but don't forget that your home page is your first impression; it's where you have to make your first big sell in order to keep people reading. Provide a succinct, informative description of the firm, its experience, and whatever qualities set it apart from the competition. This needn't be more than a short paragraph or two, and a good writer can get it done in a few lines.