To ensure that you get a high-performing legal website, you need two components – put simply, a combination of what you can and cannot see. The success of your website comes from not only what your target market will see and read when they land upon your website but is also based on how well your website has been set up and how it performs. Both elements impact the ability for your law firm to be found and ranked highly by search engines like Google.
It is not uncommon when people discuss top legal websites to talk about the appearance, and do not give much mention to the technical and performance-based markers that truly create a top legal website. In this article, we’re going to cover both of these components, so you are aware of law firm website best practices and what you need to know to ensure you get the very best outcome from your website project.
Top Legal Websites Have Clear Visual Differentiation
It is common when people are looking to have a law firm website designed to look at competitors’ sites. You may have typed phrases such as ‘top legal websites’ or ‘best law firm websites’ into Google when researching. Decision-makers in law firms can be heavily influenced by what they see their successful competitors are doing, which can be problematic.
When there is no significant differentiation from your competitors, there is no way to stand out. When there is a mirroring of another firm’s look or content, so much opportunity is lost. Your firm has its own identity and it should extend into website design. An effective legal website will convey the energy that can be felt in your office environment and by the people within it. Then, when a client does come into your office or meets you on the phone or online, there is a clear and comforting connection between the online, offline or in-person experience. Top legal websites have this correlation.
Law Firm Website Content
Law firms often make the error of only using very formal language on their website. The law is serious but your brand does not need to be overly serious in it’s appearance and connect.
The conversation, like the imagery should be reflective of what people will experience in real life.
Many sites are focused on drawing focus to how many awards they have won and the type of outcomes that are common. All of that is absolutely fine, just ensure you use language that a client would experience if they were to walk into your office or have a conversation on the phone. The language and experience should be similar across all client touch points.
Where you can, avoid using stock images throughout a website design. If you can, employ a photographer to take situational visuals that can be displayed across your website. What you want to do is to be able to connect visually from what people see on a website with what they would see if they were to walk into your office. So, have photographs taken of people in the boardroom, working in the office or anywhere in the office that is accessible to clients.
Visually, you would like a mixture of people both working and connecting with clients. If you don’t have clients available for photographs, then improvise with the back of the heads of employees and stage those images. Images that are connected to actual people and your environment and your law firm are ideal.
Top Legal Websites Are Technically And Are High Performance
In addition to having a beautiful-looking site that reflects your brand, your people and your ethos, an integral element is how the site itself performs. That is, how quickly the page loads when people click on your business name and how quickly images load, on desktop, mobile or tablet. A common reason for website page loading delays are the large images. So, compression of images is important.
There are a number of elements that contribute to performance. The company that hosts your website is also important. We recently took a client’s site from another host to our host and the performance, with no other technical changes, went from an F grading to a B grading. Fast, reliable hosting is important if you want to be up there with top legal websites.
While there are a range of other technical elements to consider, this is a key one that you can do for yourself without a lot of skill.
Load speed and performance is important from a user perspective but it is also important to search engines like Google. Google takes these performance elements into account when they put forward a website in search. You want to tick all the right boxes so that Google will see that your site is one that they want to drive traffic to, has correct structure and is technically sound so that the end-user (their client and your potential client) can have a good experience when they get there.
Identifying the look and feel of your website
When you are looking to have your site developed or revamped, I would recommend you do not only look at law websites. Look at all types of businesses, products and services sites for inspiration. Take into account what you know your ideal clientele will value. Think about them, what they wear, what they drive, how they look and look at those websites to start.
A website should be a place where people feel a connection to the business over others. It is a place to instil confidence, trust and credibility but should also be very real. If your ideal client was to go to three different sites to compare law firms, you don’t want to be positioning yourself too similarly to your key competitors.
What does your website need?
While a site can be beautiful in design, if it is not structured correctly or not technically sound, then your site, as beautiful as it may be, will not have the performance that is required for search engines to perceive it as a credible source of information. You want to have the highest technical performance so that you don’t have to worry about losing out on potential clients because of an inferior setup. While a cheap or low-cost option is appealing to many firms, especially those who are starting out, it is one asset you don’t want to skimp on.
It is incredibly important that you choose the right partner for your website project so that you can be confident that your website has been set up as effectively as possible.
If you are considering a website refresh or embarking on a new website build, visit our website design page to see some of our more recent work. We invite you to book in a no-obligation, 15 minute conversation with our website project manager to discuss your requirements.