What makes a good law firm website?
There’s plenty of room for disagreement when it comes to style and design elements. But there are important elements which should be present on every single law firm website. No matter how big (or how small), and no matter what type of law the firm practices.
Here are eight of them:
- Professional design and clean navigation. You’re a professional, and you’re asking your clients to pay you a significant fee in large part because of your professional skill set. So your website has to look the part. Your website creates the first impression of your firm for many prospects, and if it looks like it was designed by your nephew ten years ago… you’re not sending a good message. Along the same lines, your site should be clearly laid out and organized, helping visitors to quickly find what they are looking for. Ensure that all links work and that there is no broken functionality.
- Website content that quickly and clearly communicates what you do, and who you help. You’ve got seconds from the time a visitor opens your website to convince him that he’s in the right place. This means that your content (headlines in particular) must quickly explain what you do, and who you do it for. The more “plain English” you can use, as opposed to legalese, the better… this is where knowing your target market is so important. If a visitor can’t quickly figure out what you do, and whether you can help him specifically, he is going to hit the ‘Back’ button and look for another lawyer.
- Resources that demonstrate your expertise. Hiring a lawyer is a big decision. Almost always, when an individual is looking for a lawyer, he or she is grappling with a significant life issue… like divorce, like planning for the future of their business, like helping a loved one immigrate into the United States, and so on. So your website needs to inspire trust and confidence… so that visitors feel comfortable trusting you and your firm in this important time in their life. You can do this by demonstrating your expertise. Feature Special Reports, articles, blog entries you’ve written, links to any books you’ve published, media appearances, and so forth. Demonstrate your credibility and your authority in your practice area, and prospects will find it much easier to trust you in their time of need.
- Engaging video. Video is critical for a number of reasons, which we’ve written about here. Short, engaging videos allow you to “connect” with your audience much more authentically than written content. Well-produced video makes you look like a credible professional. They inspire trust and confidence. Include a video of you introducing yourself and your firm on the home page of your site. And consider creating a “video library” where you answer common questions that your clients are asking.
- Lead capture forms on every page. Your website should generate leads for your practice. Some prospects will pick up the phone and call you, but many more won’t. So a primary focus of your website should be lead capture. Note that this is more than just a form on your Contact page. Every page of your website should feature some sort of lead capture – a newsletter subscription form, the opportunity to download a report, a form to join your mailing list. Tip: these forms are much more effective when you offer something of value in exchange for the visitor’s contact information.
- Testimonials and success stories as permitted. Testimonials can be problematic, so it’s important to make sure that you’re in compliance with all bar regulations. But to the extent that you can use testimonials, do so! Study after study has confirmed that testimonials are a powerful sales tool. Clients want to know that you’ve helped other people just like them. Video testimonials are especially powerful.
- Multiple ways to contact your firm. It should be easy to contact your firm. Your phone number should be clearly visible on every page of your website. But for prospects who aren’t comfortable picking up the phone (or who are on your site after business hours), you should provide options. These options should include a contact form and a general firm email address.
- Mobile-friendly. A huge percentage of internet traffic these days are mobile users on their smart phones or tablets. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, your mobile visitors aren’t going to find what they are looking for, and they’re going to leave. Even worse, Google and other search engines can often detect whether a website is mobile friendly, and if it’s not, they may not display your website in search results on mobile devices. So it’s essential that your website is mobile friendly.
How does your website stack up?
We recently created a Website Appraisal worksheet that makes it easy to evaluate your firm website and identify areas that need improvement – you can access it for free right here.
Take a few moments right now to review your law firm website in the light of this information. Does your website contain all of the essential elements we’ve discussed above… or are you missing key opportunities to grow your practice?