Custom web design for a law firm is a big part of any business development plan. However, if you’re used to social media profiles and directory listings, the budget for these types of projects can seem a little high at first.
The fact is that creating and maintaining your own website is a big project, but it’s worth it to do it right. Your website is the hub of all of your online marketing efforts — social media, paid ads, local listings, SEO, you name it. In the rest of this article, we’ll look at what goes into custom web design projects.
While reading, keep in mind that your firm might not need a total redesign. Some simply need new content or SEO strategy to perform well. Feel free to call FORWARD Lawyer Marketing at 888-590-9687 anytime for a personalized consultation.
On the technical side, your website design needs to be organized in such a way that makes sense to engineers. This will make it easier for net admins to work with your website and lower your IT costs. Regular maintenance, backups, troubleshooting, and upgrades all become much easier when things are all in the right place.
The big part that is going to help drive clients to your firm is the user experience side. People looking for attorneys often feel they need to act quickly — you need to make sure all of the most important information and menus are consistently placed right upfront.
Another one of these subtleties of custom websites for law firms is the restriction on marketing and advertising in the legal profession. For example, you’re generally not allowed to promise specific outcomes to clients.
Web design firms that work with attorneys should know these rules. At FORWARD Lawyer Marketing, we have lawyer clients across the country practicing in many different areas. Our written content is specifically tailored to be both persuasive and compliant with all relevant regulations.
Whether you’re just starting out with a new website for your law firm or you’re upgrading an older one, it makes sense to focus your efforts. This means setting up the most important pages first and then working down to the ones that are less urgent.
For example, if you have a practice that focuses mostly on divorce, then you would want to create a page on divorce first. You would probably also want an “About Us” and “Family Law” page to post at the same time. From there, you would move on to child support, adoption, asset division, spousal support, or any of the other practice areas that make up the rest of your business.
The idea is to get your site up to standards for as many people as possible as quickly as possible. It takes time, but strategy often helps quite a bit in generating some early returns on your investment.
Just like in your site’s overall organization, there’s a technical side and an aesthetic side to your photography and video content. If you want your website to rank well and generate leads for your firm, both aspects are important.
The technical side basically has to do with optimization. In other words, you want to reliably present the highest quality images as quickly as possible. To do this, you need to select the right formats and compression processes so your visual content looks sharp and loads quickly.
The aesthetic side has to do with your photographers. Pros understand how lighting, angle, and composition can make or break a shot. They also spend a significant amount of time retouching photos digitally. It’s almost always worth it to hire a professional for headshots and group photos of your attorneys.
Design and layout are important because they help people navigate your site. Everything is important: your choice of colors, the positioning of the different elements on your website, and even the size of your menu bars.
A good layout is a challenge in any design medium, but it’s even more difficult to get right online. Your website has to look good on computers, tablets, and cell phones. It also has to work on a variety of different types of browser software.
Luckily, there are a lot of tools these days that can increase compatibility between your website and all of these different devices. You just have to know how to use the latest technology to make sure your firm’s message gets across — regardless of whether the prospective client is using an iPhone or a library computer. Check out Design Rush’s Best Design Trends article which includes some great resources.
What seems like a small detail can make a big difference in your website’s appearance. Rearranging written content is often a good way to have a clearer, more accessible website.
Part of this responsibility is with the person writing your articles. Part of it is with the graphic designer. The editors and publishers for your website also have to make sure that the layout looks good on all kinds of different screens and devices. It’s an effort that involves a multi-talented team — one of the reasons that you need a professional attorney marketing agency to handle both the creation and the maintenance of your law firm’s custom website.
One of the best ways to take control of your client intake process is by bringing contact forms and chat functions to your website. If you set things up correctly, you can track everything from a client’s initial show of interest to the moment you close the case.
The classic web solution here is the contact form. You’ve probably seen these on many websites. You may have one on your own site. Generally, you track these types of communications by linking your website, your email software, and your business development suites.
Additionally, people are now using chat instead of sending emails or filling out contact forms. This is especially true of the newer generation of clients who have grown up with texting and social media. Adding a live chat function to your website helps cover this increasingly important mode of communication. Managed options are available — you don’t necessarily need to have someone in your office online at all hours.
We spoke briefly about mobile compatibility earlier here, but it really deserves its own article altogether. Mobile searches, and therefore mobile websites, are increasingly important for lawyers who want to get noticed online. As a matter of fact, Google now has a mobile-first indexing policy, which means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.
The mobile version of your website should load automatically when it detects that the potential client is using a cell phone or a tablet. The way this essentially works is that the browser software reads the code on your website and determines how to display the information correctly.
If you have older code that lacks the correct instructions, the mobile software will not display your site correctly. This can lead to confusion — and people leaving your website before they contact you.
Another important part of mobile website optimization for your law firm is loading speed. If you have media-rich content with non-optimized graphics, it might load slowly on a low-bandwidth connection. You want to make sure everything is in the correct format to get that smooth, near-instant experience that people expect these days.
As you move forward with your new (or improved) website, you’ll want to keep track of what’s working and what needs to change. The most effective way to do this is by getting some information about how people are behaving as they interact with your web content.
To do this, you’ll set up tracking codes that monitor important behavior. For example, you might find that people contact your firm after reading a specific article. This would indicate that you should create similar content to drive even more business to your law office.
Marketing your law firm will probably also involve integrating your website with big tech services such as Facebook and Google. This could involve many things, depending on your goals and preferences. Here are some examples:
This is far from a complete list, and these big tech companies are always coming up with new ways for you to reach potential clients. It’s a full-time job just staying current. For example, at FORWARD Lawyer Marketing, we’re part of Google’s service partnership program. That means we keep up-to-date on every service that could potentially benefit your firm.
The final part of web design is creating a structure of links that connects your website to the internet at large. This is important to drive traffic directly to your website as well as to achieve high rankings on search engines. Links are the basic building block of the web — the more (and higher quality) you have, the better.
Getting a website that looks great is just the first step. Making it work — making it drive new business to your firm — that’s the real goal. Contact us today at (888) 590-9687 to learn more, or to schedule a personal consultation.