If you’ve ever been online at all, I can pretty much guarantee that you've visited a website only to immediately click your browser’s “back” button in frustration.
Maybe it was immediately clear that website didn’t have the information you needed. Maybe it loaded too slowly or was too hard to navigate. Maybe it was stuffed with annoying pop-ups and in-your-face ads. Whatever the reason, you didn’t stick around long enough to dig around under the ugly surface for what might be good about it.
Instead, like everyone else on the internet, you moved on in search of a website that WOULD immediately give you what you want—with no hassle.
So, think about your own website. Is it the kind of website that your ideal clients and referral sources are clicking away from? Or does your design and content invite them to stay? While there are no simple answers about what makes a law firm’s website rise to greatness, you can go a long way by avoiding these 5 website and design mistakes.
Mistake 1: Your website is all about you, not your perfect clients.
When people come to your website, it’s because they have a legal issue and need answers. If their first impression is that you’re full of yourself, they are going to leave and take their issues to someone who will put the priority on them.
This is why your law firm’s website should be about your clients, not about you!
You want your website’s design to focus on your visitors’ immediate needs. It should build trust and create an environment where potential clients feel comfortable. They should be able to find answers to their questions easily. Your website should offer “trust signals” that make sense to the people you help—stuff like testimonials, reviews, and case results—instead of getting right in their faces with lists of accomplishments that only make sense to other lawyers.
There is absolutely no doubt about this. It’s really about getting into the heads of the people you want to attract to your website! Understanding your perfect clients’ motivations, needs, and intentions is how attorneys stand out in skippable world.
Mistake 2: Your website doesn’t have enough content.
Is your website more of an “online business card,” or does it offer something truly substantial for your visitors? If you feel like you’re more the former than the latter, it’s time to get on top of your website content.
Informative articles and compelling videos are essential building blocks of any great website. That content is what gives your website design substance with its style, and it’s what gives people a reason to visit your site and make a connection with you.
If your website suffers from sparse and low-quality content, it is probably also suffering from low search engine rankings, high bounce rates, a poor user experience, and sluggish traffic. And, if your site is stagnating because you don’t update or add new content regularly, it’s a huge red flag for visitors and search engines.
It is critical to understand that your potential clients turn to Google for answers, not just a pile of lawyers’ virtual business cards. Unique, accurate, current, and evocative articles and videos will establish you as an authority in your field and improve your ability to connect with the people that need you.
Not sure where to get started? Find out how many pages you need on your website.
Mistake 3: Your website content is poorly presented.
Of course, tons of compelling content full of spelling mistakes and broken images won’t do you much good. Your articles and videos need to look good as good as they read. After all, a whole lot of what makes websites great is that they’re such a visual experience!
Your content pages should be easy to read and skim through, with headlines and images to break up intimidating “walls of text.” The page design should look as professional as your homepage, and it should include relevant links, offers, and trust signals that show people how to dig deeper if they like what they’re reading. Overall, the idea is to create content pages that are easy on the eyes, easy to digest, and easy to act on.
Keep in mind, too, that WHERE you present your content matters. Great content is a great motivator for your perfect clients, so put it in front of them where it makes the most sense. Highlight your best videos and articles in the design of your homepage and on relevant practice area pages. Make it easy to navigate to your blog, article library, case results, and video library. Presenting your content in the right place and at the right time can dramatically improve the user experience and keep people coming back for more.
Need more suggestions for making the content on your website stand out? Find out how to make good content look even better.
Mistake 4: Your website design is stale.
Do you notice how often your favorite websites update their design, freshen their look, and make user-friendly changes? There is a reason that the best sites on the internet stay on the cutting edge.
Visitors appreciate fast, fresh sites, and they will judge businesses that fall behind the curve on major technological changes and trends. It seems crazy, but it only takes 2 or 3 years for a website to show its age in this arena!
Sometimes, it’s the pure design stuff, like changes in the kinds of colors and design elements people prefer to see. Sometimes, it’s deeper functionality issues, like security, privacy, browser compatibility, and usability issues. Sometimes, it’s even just adjustment to online innovations, like social media “share” buttons and convenience for mobile browsing.
The point is that a website’s original design WILL go stale over time, and people will notice when it does.
Want to keep the pulse on the effectiveness of your website’s design and technology? Check out what to check regularly on your website.
Mistake 5: Your website doesn’t say where you are or how to reach you.
We’ll end this list on an easy one: missing or hard-to-find contact information. Have you ever had to hunt around on a website to find the company’s phone number? Have you ever been left wondering if the business is local or based halfway across the world?
Don’t leave your website visitors wondering the same.
Law firms typically get their best clients locally, but too many law firms fail to make that clear on their websites. It’s tough to find their contact information—or even find an address or a reference to what states they serve!
You wouldn't hide the sign for your office under a bush across the street! So don't hide your contact information on your website, either. Your phone number should be prominently placed on each page, and a "contact" button should be part of your navigation bar. Your full firm name and address, as well as directions to your office, should be available on your main pages. Use mobile-friendly elements, like tap-to-call buttons and short contact forms—and don’t forget to use images, headlines, and text with a local flair!
People can’t call you if they don’t know how! These little, local touches may not seem like much, but they make a huge difference in how many people call you and contact you through your website.
Fix the Mistakes That Drive Away Your Best Clients and Cases
Making one or more of the above mistakes will chase away your potential clients before they get a chance to really see your website or get to know you. However, if you’re intentional about your website’s design and work with a team you trust, you can avoid major blunders that drag your website down.
We’ve built hundreds of websites for law firms and medical practices, and we've seen—and fixed—just about every usability and design mistake out there.
Want to benefit from what we’ve learned? Request a website design consultation with the FWM team, or give us a call at 888.886.0939.