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Is Your Legal Website Ready for 2017? Jason Antonucci

Written on: November 8th, 2016 in best practices, user experience, web design

With December just around the corner and 2016 coming to a close, most businesses are finalizing their books and planning their 2017 budgets.  Law firms are no different.  At some point in these very exciting year-end meetings, the topic of the firm’s marketing and advertising budget will come up. If your firm is relatively familiar with what’s going on with technology and have been making investments in the digital marketing, you’ll want to make sure you pay a significant amount of attention to the state of your website.  You and your stakeholders need to make sure that your  website reflects who you are and what you do as a law firm in 2017 and beyond.

If they are struggling to answer this question, then it might be time for a redesign.  Like most marketing and sales materials, your website needs to be reevaluated and redesigned over time to ensure it is as productive and profitable a tool as it can be for your firm. Keep in mind that your firm’s website is often the hub of all your marketing efforts. The good news is that  an effective redesign of your website can help elevate your online presence, increase your SEO ranking, enhance the online experience and ultimately drive new business..

A Successful Website Redesign Can...

Help The Firm Stand Out from the Crowd

Since 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content layout is unattractive, it is vital your website is designed in a visually engaging way.  This is commonly a place where law firms struggle and it can lead to a bland and boring look and feel throughout the site.  We recommend benchmarking the look and feel of your site against other law firms AND companies from other industries.  Just because your established, successful law firm is not a young, cutting-edge technology company, doesn’t mean you can’t take their best practices and leverage them for yourself.  After all, regardless of industry, 94% of a user’s first impressions are design-related.

User Experience Matters

UX (user experience) refers to the experience a person has when using your website, especially in terms of how easy,intuitive and pleasing it is to use.  Bottom line, great UX keeps people on your website and will keep them coming back.  In fact, 48% of people consider a website’s UX as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business.  Credibility – that’s something I am willing to bet is very high  on your firm’s list of attributes, right? The LAST thing you want is for someone to hit your homepage and instantly think you are not a credible law firm.

Besides a great first impression, the navigation should be clear and concise so a user doesn’t have to guess where they should head to next once they’ve landed on your homepage.  Information should be easily digestible throughout your site. If your website is made up of walls of text and hasn’t been organized with your user in mind, it may be time to start thinking about a redesign.

But let’s say you have some great imagery, a nice layout and freshly streamlined content that is easy for your user to digest and convert. Congrats! You’re ahead of most, but we are sure there are things that you can do to make it GREAT.

Provide Value Through Online Tools

The best websites not only look amazing, are simple to navigate and have easily digestible content, but they are also a valuable resource for users both internally and externally.  For external users, the reasons are obvious; you want as many users coming back and engaging with your site as you can.  This breeds trust and will help convert visitors into clients over time.  However, your website can be just as valuable to your internal stakeholders  such as attorneys, business development and administrators. with a little creative forethought, smart UX design and a few savvy developers.

For example, Wilson Elser felt strongly that they needed a solution for their firm that allowed attorneys to search their database for content that they could pull and use for a case.  Enter, a Dossier Feature:

wilson

The beauty of a tool like this is that internal and external users can access it.  Key content can be pulled from around the site and placed into a virtual portfolio.  From there, content can be saved for later, emailed to a colleague or client or printed as a PDF document with a branded cover page.  This has proven to be a valuable and often-used tool for Wilson Elser with roughly 1,000 visitor sessions per year.

Be Responsive

This can mean a number of things when dealing with client relations, but I’m referring to Responsive Web Design Techniques. At Imarc, virtually every website we build is built using Responsive Design Techniques.  And we do so for a number of reasons including:

  • Google recommends it, but as of April 21, 2015 Google began penalizing sites that aren’t mobile friendly.  
  • It will increase your ROI if you build your site with responsive design.  Since a responsive website is capable of adapting to multiple devices (smartphones, tablets, monitors) all of the outstanding graphic design and UX design work you just had done will render properly no matter the size of the screen.  
  • It also becomes more cost-effective since you are now managing one website that can adapt and not having to manage separate sites for various devices.  Not to mention, more than 55% of website users are accessing pages from a mobile device; a number that will continue to grow in 2017.

Now, if you are starting to think that your law firm could use some help planning a possible re-design of your firm’s website – Let’s talk.

 

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