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9 Common Web Design Mistakes Lawyers Make

Written by Shea Antonucci

On April 8, 2020

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In today’s digital world, having a website is essential…but all websites are not created equal. 

If you are an attorney, the goal of your website should be to convert users into clients. Billboards and commercials are just not as effective; we’re living in the most technologically advanced age, and most people use the Internet to find what they’re looking for. Google receives over 5.6 billion searches per day, and 96% of people search for legal advice online before they do anything else. Your website is crucial to your practice’s success.

So if your website isn’t built to be a powerful sales tool for your firm, then you’re not going to grow, or stay competitive. Sure, you may get along for a while – we don’t devalue the importance of strong community relationships and client satisfaction. But the hard truth is that if you don’t have a functional, modern website, you won’t get the volume of new cases you need to increase revenue. New clients are most likely going to be searching online for lawyers. 

The problem is that many attorneys know that it is important to have a website, but they don’t know what an “effective” website actually looks like. Here are some common lawyer web design mistakes we see all the time!

 

Mistake #1: Not having a mobile-responsive website

 

This is probably the most grievous error that you can make, regardless of your specialty. 60% of Google searches are performed from a smartphone. This means that if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you are going to be much less likely to convert 60% of your traffic. If your website doesn’t look good on someone’s phone, they will likely leave it right away, or become frustrated trying to find information that is not readily presenting itself. Why spend time hunting through pages trying to find out where you’re located, or whether or not you handle car accident cases, when they can just return to Google search and find another lawyer that has easier site navigation? 

How do you ensure your website works just as well, or even better, on smartphones? You need to hire a professional developer who has experience creating mobile sites, or you can use a mobile-friendly template; however, these templates may not include everything a developer would think to check. If you do use a template, remember to have big buttons, large font, compressed images, and easy-to-find information and menu items. 

 

Mistake #2: Hiding the call to action

 

This is another serious error. You never want to make it hard for clients to become clients. It shouldn’t be a chore to find out how to schedule a consultation, call to ask a question, or fill out a form requesting more information. If it is, users are more likely to leave your website without converting. And remember, your website needs to be intuitive – even if you think the call to action isn’t hard to find, if it’s not obvious, users may miss it, especially on mobile devices

How do you emphasize the call to action? On legal websites that we create, we like to include a pop-up form where users can submit their contact information, the clickable phone number in the top right-hand corner, the address and hours of operation in the footer or even in the center of the page, a banner across the top of the page, several buttons where users can click to schedule consultations, and more depending on the attorney’s unique business goals. 

 

Mistake #3: Failing to update content regularly

The more credible you appear to search engines, the more users will see your website in search results when they type in keywords related to legal assistance. This is known as search engine optimization (SEO) – an organic way of ranking higher on the page. Local SEO is great for lawyers, because almost all searches for lawyers are with queries such as “lawyer near me” or “{City name} lawyer”.  If you are too far outside the searching client’s zone, you may not be able to try their case, depending on the situation and laws in that area. For instance, if you’re located in Tampa, Florida, you may have thousands of prospective clients searching for “Tampa family lawyer” or “car accident lawyer near me”. You can bid on those keywords, of course, but you are more likely to get clicks if you are also the first organic result, and organic clicks cost you nothing.

However, in order to have good SEO, you need search engines to recognize you as a quality source, and this entails, in part, having an up-to-date site with fresh content. Starting a blog and posting monthly is an excellent start to your strategy, and if you have a strong social media presence, showcase it on your website! Use your blog to answer common legal questions, educate people who are unfamiliar with the type of legal expertise you provide, and display your knowledge of specific legal issues. This is going to get you more readership. 

Even if you’re not in a position to currently start a blog, what you don’t want to do is have a website that has not been changed in any way for 10 years. Update it somehow, regularly. The way the web works, your website could be obsolete in about 4. 

 

Mistake #4: Ignoring slow loading times

 

About half of your traffic – 47% – expects your site to load in 2 seconds or less. And 40% will leave it immediately if it takes longer than 3 seconds, and probably won’t return. 85% of mobile users expect a site to load just as fast as it does on their desktop. 

The numbers speak for themselves. If your website takes too long to load, you’re frustrating your user and decreasing the chances of them becoming a client. You’re helping your competition. You’re also hurting your brand reputation. Websites with slow loading times look cheap and unprofessional, and they are a total waste of money; why create a beautiful website if users are going to leave before they even explore it?

There are several tools you can use to check your website’s speed, and if it turns out you need to improve it, contact a software developer or someone who is experienced with coding. 

 

Mistake #5: Not owning your website

 

If you are currently leasing your website, and you don’t actually own the hosting, then that’s a big issue. It’s kind of like renting an apartment; you can’t just change what you want at any time, and if anything happens to the entity that owns it, you lose everything you’ve worked for. 

You should own everything associated with your website and be able to make changes in real time. 

 

Mistake #6: Not showcasing testimonials

 

Statistics show that it only takes 1-6 online reviews for 68% of potential clients to form an opinion about your practice. That means that one review could mean the difference between someone calling your firm because they think you are a reputable lawyer who can help them and someone telling their friend that they’ve heard that you are not. Especially because choosing a lawyer is a decision that has major consequences, having good reviews is vital to your firm’s growth, and displaying them on your website is a must if you want to make a positive first impression on visitors. 

You control the reviews that go on your website, so pick the most glowing ones (clearly). However, you can’t control the reviews that are shown to users on Facebook or Google, which are just as important – prospective clients will look at those before contacting you. If you have several bad reviews, you need to listen to your clients and evaluate their complaints. If you don’t yet have many reviews, period, that’s also something that may cause users to be uneasy. It’s a good idea to ask clients for reviews

 

Mistake #7: Not including your picture on the site

 

Have you ever heard of the uncertainty reduction theory? It’s the idea that people have this intrinsic discomfort with not knowing things; they need to reduce their uncertainties about situations and people by gaining information about them. In the legal sphere, this translates with an even greater weight. People may already tend to be biased against lawyers for various reasons, so just as you should showcase testimonials to create a positive first impression, you should also show them yourself. They want to know who is handling their case, and they want to trust that person –  you need your personal picture on the website (preferably on the home page). 

Many lawyers don’t bother to include a personal photo and instead rely on stock photography, but it’s important! Pictures speak a thousand words. Make sure it is a high-quality image that is formatted correctly for both mobile and desktop, and link your contact information or a short bio underneath for maximum effect. 

 

Mistake #8: Writing too much text

Don’t overwhelm your readers with too much text on the home page, or the service pages. Content is king, but you need to balance it out with high quality images, videos if possible (these perform brilliantly), and infographics. Research has shown that infographics get 3x as much engagement than any other type of content. It’s okay to have a few paragraphs total on your home page – lawyers can get away with putting a little more text because people expect lawyers to have knowledge that they do not – and if the goal of a certain page is to inform patients, then more words may be necessary. But in general, you don’t want to have giant blocks of text on your page. It decreases the aesthetic appeal and it scares users away, especially mobile users. 

Mistake #9: Not embedding a Google map of your location

 

This goes along with improving your local SEO – if you embed a Google map (maybe in the footer, wherever you have the address, or on its own page), Google will recognize that, and your users will also be able to visualize where you are at and think “Oh, that’s not far from me”. It’s an incredibly simple, yet powerful, addition (just like your photo) but we don’t see enough lawyers doing it. 

 

Knowing the common lawyer web design mistakes should make it easier to optimize your own site (the more you know). If you feel like your web presence needs improvement, or if you need a new website entirely, contact the team at Empirical360! We have extensive experience designing and developing websites for attorneys and businesses of all kinds. Contact us and learn how we can help you grow your firm and increase revenue! 

 

Shea Antonucci - Author

Director of Content Marketing


Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!

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