Links, content, keywords and basic on-site optimization are all important aspects of SEO but the one thing that can kill good optimization is a poor user experience. UX (or user experience) on a website has become a very important signal for Google in determining what pages to show their users. Here are 7 usability mistakes that lawyers make on their website often without even realizing it.
1. Slow Load Times
This is the mother of all usability mistakes. If a page takes longer than a few seconds to load you risk losing traffic. That seems like a low number however think of the last time you sat at a red light for more than 3 seconds. It seemed like 3 minutes right? In the age of high-speed connections and lightweight websites, users expect content to load quickly.
Lawyers can use tools like Google’s Page Speed insights to see how fast their pages are loading. Google also gives recommendations of high and low priority issues that lawyers can work on to improve page speed if necessary. If your site is built using WordPress you’re in luck because there are tons of great plugins available to help improve page load times.
2. No Directional Cues
Directional cues are things on a website that let users know where they are in the overall structure. This may seem unnecessary but on the internet, it is easy to get lost because you are not in a physical location. Letting people know where they are in the hierarchy of the site helps them find the information they are looking for.
Here are some examples of directional cues:
- Bread crumb navigation
- Active menu highlighting
- Icons in menu items
- Use of images to direct users
Some of the most important navigational cues that lawyers can add are active menu highlighting and bread crumbs. This is because they are some of the most common web conventions that people are accustomed to seeing. They help people get to the pages they want to see and understand which pages they are already on.
3. Lack of Clear Content Hierarchy
When people come to your website, you need to lead them down paths. These paths need to be clear and make sense. An attorney’s website should have an over-arching theme related to the type of law they practice and then drill down into sub-categories. For example a personal injury lawyer would have that type of law as their overall site theme and then sub-pages with the different types of personal injury accidents (i.e. car accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall, etc).
Lawyers should first flush out what broad types of law they practice and that should be the umbrella theme for their website. Next they should make specific pages for all the sub-categories that relate to their practice area. A family law attorney would have that practice area as their overall theme and then their sub-pages could be divorce, child custody, annulment, etc.
4. Inaccurate or Unclear Link Labels
When someone clicks on a link or a button, they expect it to take them to a certain place based on what it says. Poorly labeled buttons and links that are not descriptive of where they lead are a very common usability mistake.
Go through your site and identify any navigational or other links. Make sure they are descriptive of where they lead. For example if you have the anchor text in a blog post that reads “personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia” and the link leads to your home page with little content about practicing that type of law in the city of Philadelphia then that needs to be changed.
5. Hard to Find Contact Information
Not being able to find contact information on a website is infuriating for users. If you make people dig for phone numbers or a contact form, they may be more likely to leave.
Place your phone number and other contact information in the header of your website so it shows up on every page. Place contact forms in the sidebar of most or all your pages so that people can use them at any point.
6. Non-Responsive Websites
Mobile responsiveness is no longer a novelty or something that lawyers can put off until later. Mobile device usage for browsing the internet now outpaces that of desktop usage. Lawyers should always look at their analytics data to determine how often and on what devices people are viewing their site. Even without that data though it’s a safe bet that if your site is not responsive, people are having a hard time looking at it on small screens.
Lawyers whose sites are not mobile responsive can have them converted. If they are using platforms like WordPress, many themes are now mobile responsive. Phone numbers should be prominent and clickable, content not essential for the mobile experience should be stripped out, buttons and text should be large enough to read easily on a mobile device.
7. Content That Is Difficult to Read
Lawyers’ websites often have a lot of text content on practice area pages. That’s great and the more content the better however that information needs to be easy to read. Huge blocks of text that are clumped together are difficult to scan through.
Break up text with images and headings that get people to the information they are looking for faster. Large blocks of text also create anxiety in people making them avoid reading it altogether. Keep paragraphs short and avoid having text run the full width of a page. People tend to read more when lines are shorter. Use fonts that are easy for reading and make sure line spacing is spread out enough for easy reading.
It’s more important than ever to have a quality UX (user experience) for consumers that visit your law firm’s website. Avoid the 7 these usability mistakes that lawyers make on their website and your website may have a better chance of ranking well in the search engines.