While the initial design of your law firm’s website may seem like the fun part, never underestimate the seriousness and importance of this first step. Thanks to the newest web design programs which are easier to use than ever, web design disasters are less common than they once were, however don’t think you are off the hook just yet! Perhaps more for legal firm’s than many other businesses, it is absolutely essential that your website conveys professionalism and inspires trust from your client’s very first click.
Basic Layout Rules for your Legal Website
In order to get your website noticed—in a positive way—the overall impression of your website is critical. Keep the following design rules in mind when creating your website:
• Reader satisfaction is definitely influenced by layout of headers, indentation and whitespace; in fact use of whitespace between paragraphs and in the left and right margins increase comprehension by almost 20%.
• Although black links have higher visual contrast, blue links are easier for your clients to click.
• Consider your users when you have a choice between icons or links; it has been shown that users generally prefer links when navigating a website.
• Potential clients surfing legal websites that have clear labels and prominent navigation options tend to browse longer and read more copy.
• Your client’s ultimate decision on choosing your law firm may be driven by perceived security, privacy and quality of content and design. Remember this when designing your legal website.
For Optimum Legal SEO–Never, Ever, Make These Design Mistakes
1. Non-scannable text can be deadly for your website besides being boring and difficult to read. Remember you are not writing for print, but for online, so to draw your potential clients into your text, use subheads, bulleted lists, highlighted keywords, simple writing style and short paragraphs.
2. Links are a key factor in the navigation process, allowing your potential legal clients to exclude links that were not helpful to them, or to revisit links that piqued their interest or spoke to their particular issue. Changing the color of visited links is critical to this process, ensuring your visitors are guaranteed the easiest navigation of your legal website possible.
3. Avoid designs that even remotely resemble advertisements. It has been shown that Web users have quickly learned to ignore anything that interferes with their goal-driven search. Your legitimate legal copy can be essentially lost if it even subconsciously reminds your client of an advertisement, whether it is in the form of a banner, pop-up, flashing text or animation. Be very careful when incorporating any of these particular designs into your legal website.
4. In the legal profession, not answering your client’s questions can be a critical mistake. On the Web, we are highly goal-driven beings—we visit a particular legal website because there is something we need to accomplish or find. If your legal website fails to answer your potential client’s questions quickly and thoroughly, they will soon be clicking onto another law firm’s website which is more relevant to their immediate needs.
5. Finally, page titles with low search engine visibility can truly be the kiss of death for your legal website. For maximum legal SEO, remember that search is the way your potential clients both discover your website and find their way around it once they are there. Your page title is the most important tool you have to attract new clients from search listings and help them find the specific page they need.
When your clients bookmark a site, your page title is also used as the default entry in the Favorites list. For your legal firm’s homepage, be sure to begin with your law firm’s name, followed by a brief description of your website. For other pages, start the title with the very most important information-carrying words that describe exactly what your clients will find on that page.