When you think of web design for lawyers, you probably think of creating a good-looking site that fits your firm’s image. Looks are only part of it.
You also need a responsive, useful site if you want to attract attention and generate leads. This type of functional engineering is even more crucial when it comes to mobile platforms.
This article will assume you know some basics about web design. If you don’t, please feel free to call us at FORWARD Lawyer Marketing for an in-depth analysis and personalized consultation. Also, we’ve put some learning resources at the end of the article if you’d like some context.
In any case, here are the benefits of a responsive mobile law firm website that we’ll be going over (along with the explanation sections at the end):
One of the most important benefits of responsive mobile web design is legibility. This is important for all types of businesses online, but even more so for lawyers.
As an attorney, you need people to be able to see, read and understand the important information that your website offers. You also need a mobile-conscious experience. For example, you need to take into account the fact that people typically do not have as much time or inclination to read on their cell phones as they might when sitting down in front of a computer at a desk.
So you need a mobile-friendly attorney website for two important elements of legibility: physical layout and organization of content. You need to automatically put the important points in front of visitors — in a format that they can read without putting the phone two inches away from their faces.
Another big point for mobile optimization is ease of contact. When someone is looking up your law office on their phone, they have more immediate contact methods available. They can call, email, fill out a contact form or reach out to you on social media — all with the tap of a button. Of course, on mobile, you might want to prioritize calls and chat options over email and contact forms.
The vehicle of that prioritization is — you guessed it — mobile site optimization. You can have your website reformat itself automatically to highlight the most relevant and appropriate contact methods. This lets visitors contact you easily.
Mobile-friendly websites often also come with a site-wide reduction in loading times. This is important for various reasons but, of course, your visitors are the primary concern.
People expect websites to load very quickly these days. For example, how long has it been since you waited for an image to load? It doesn’t happen very often.
If your website takes a long time to load, that could be because it isn’t optimized correctly. This is a problem for both the desktop and website versions of your website. It’s also one of the first problems that the mobile optimization process addresses.
Apart from speeding up loading times, we also optimize websites to accommodate various connection speeds. This is important for a variety of reasons.
We can usually assume that people are on a slow or unreliable connection when they’re on mobile devices. We can also assume that their mobile devices don’t have as much computing power as their desktop or laptop computers.
So the question becomes, do you give up feature-rich multimedia web design that turns heads and generates leads? Yes and no. There are various ways law firms can use responsive mobile website design techniques to load faster on slower connections. You’ll need to do it all to stay ahead of your competition.
Some speed-increasing techniques are necessary to make a website responsive in the first place, such as replacing raster-format images with dynamic content when appropriate. Others are more subtle or advanced, such as choosing the correct player settings and compression algorithms for self-hosted video. As always with web design, success is in the details.
Up until now, all of the benefits we’ve talked about come from the engineering realm — technical or design concerns. There’s also a key marketing concern.
More and more people are using mobile devices to find lawyers. And, with the increasing saturation of cell phones across all demographics, this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Simply put, people are on their phones. You need to be there too by creating a responsive mobile website.
There’s another marketing-technical aspect of mobile websites: local search. Local mobile search is crucial for certain types of firms, such as car accident injury lawyers, but it’s important for everyone who practices law.
With the exception of a few fields (most of which don’t advertise much), the legal profession is, by definition, territorial. Your firm practices in the areas in which your attorneys are licensed to practice.
Mobile devices can help determine whether people are in your area. If you have prepared correctly, you can focus advertisements and optimization campaigns on a specific region — channeling traffic to a quick, optimized website that highlights the location and practice areas of your firm.
Mobile-optimized sites rank higher. In fact, Google has said in the past that this design technique should increase search rank — a rare example of the search giant showing its hand.
It makes sense. The endgame of most web-design strategies is to make websites more attractive to users, and mobile optimization is no exception. Additionally, the point of search engines is to find the best option for web users.
When it comes down to choosing between two firms in the same region practicing in the same area of the law, the Google search algorithm has to dive into the details. Having a responsive mobile site can help your firm rank higher than competitors — even if the searchers aren’t using their phones.
So, if you’ve read this far without knowing what a “mobile responsive site” is, you probably have a pretty good idea by now. Basically, it’s a set of design techniques that does two things:
If you’re on a mobile device, you automatically see a streamlined version of the website. When you go to the same web address on a laptop computer, you’ll see the full site with all of the bells and whistles, expanded to and formatted for the size of the larger screen.
You don’t have to tell the site what to do on mobile. You don’t have to zoom and scroll. It’s engineered to do it all for you.
The do-it-yourself approach to mobile-optimized design is going to have a serious learning curve, especially if you want a full-functioning attorney website. There are many benefits of having a full site, which we’ve written about elsewhere and we’d be happy to go over with you personally. Suffice to say that it’s the core of your online marketing efforts.
So, the best way to design a mobile-friendly lawyer website (or to upgrade your firm’s site) is to hire someone to do it. The other options aren’t very attractive.
The first less-than-ideal option is pre-fab website design. These cloud services typically provide very little customization control. Further, even the most basic functions that a growing law firm would need require higher price tiers or custom apps. It often turns out to be more work and just as much of an investment — you’re better off hiring a pro.
Then you have the DIY approach. This is not recommended. During development and live service, your site will have some combination of security gaps, poor or incomplete mobile optimization, licensing violations, unattractive graphic design, or downtime. Exactly what goes wrong will depend on your knowledge gaps in various creative and computer-engineering disciplines, but something will go wrong.
The impending dominance of mobile search is old news. If you don’t have a website that directly addresses this opportunity, chances are that you are already behind a good number of your competitors.
Many of our clients come to us because they value the individual character of the firm. It’s an asset to them. They don’t want to blend into the crowd and, if they do want some level of conformity, they want to be the best.
We build mobile-responsive websites or redesign existing websites for mobile optimization with an eye towards our clients’ unique goals and values. We’re a national-scale lawyer marketing firm — you get all of the “it just works” quality you expect. We’re also a small business — you get the attention you deserve. Feel free to give us a call at any time to discuss the scope of your project.