Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to law firm website design. You don’t always have to go for the biggest, flashiest changes, and you don’t necessarily need a total re-do if you want to make waves.
Some of the best website designs out there aren’t “in your face.” All their brilliance lies in the little things that make using the website a pleasure and all the little touches that let visitors know the owners of that website care.
If you want to replicate that kind of laid-back success for yourself, forget about giant splash pages and cutting-edge widgets. Instead, focus on these 7 small details that actually can make a big difference for your law firm.
Hungry for more? Check out our 21 best tips—large and small—for law firm website design in 2021.
1. Whitespace Proves That Less Is More
Sometimes, the most important detail on your website is in what isn’t there. That’s right—we’re talking about whitespace! “Whitespace” is the space between what’s on your website, whether you’re looking at the small spaces between lines of text or bigger spaces around panels, images, and other elements.
This might not sound like a big deal, but think about it. The space around text and elements on the page have a huge impact on how easily they can be read and understood. If people have to lean in close and squint to read through tightly spaced text and crammed-in paragraphs, they’re probably going to give up and move on pretty quickly. If images and panels are all crushed together on the page, it will be tough for visitors to understand where one ends and another begins. And, if every page of your website is overflowing with text, images, panels, banners, sidebars, headers, and a billion other things, then it’s going to be overwhelming and hard to use.
Lots of lawyers feel like they need to stuff more of everything into every spare bit of space on the page. They think of it as “empty space,” and they have trouble seeing the benefit of leaving that space blank.
However, although it might seem counter-intuitive, less really is more on your website. Allowing for whitespace gives the eye a break. It helps containerize different thoughts and calls to action, and it makes it easy to read, digest, and truly understand what is being presented.
Take a look at this example:
Holy wow! It takes a few minutes before your eyes can even start making any sense of what’s on the page, and then it’s a few more minutes before you can figure out what it is, what it’s selling, or how to even begin to navigate it.
How much more quickly are you able to identify what the page is about? How quickly can you understand how to navigate it? How much calmer do you feel while looking at it?
If you’re like most people, you automatically feel more oriented and at ease looking at the second example—by, like, a lot. That’s how much of a difference smart use of whitespace makes in a law firm’s website design.
2. Limit Options to Motivate Action
Your design provides the paving that leads people toward relevant goals when they visit. If you give them too many options, they’ll get lost looking for what they want. However, if your design clearly leads them toward strong pages and strong calls to actions, they’ll be able to get exactly what they came for—and you’ll increase the leads and conversions that come in through your law firm’s website.
Remember those two examples from the section above? One of the things that makes the cluttered example “bad” is that it presents too many options at once. Even if you can ignore the crammed-in feeling of the page, you’re given a list of well over 25 directions to go in from the “Index” sidebar. And that doesn’t even count all the separate product links that also appear on the page. Whew! That’s a lot to sort through before you find what you want.
Now, look at the second example again. Your choices for moving forward are limited, allowing you to self-select your interest in either doctor or attorney website design. Other than that, you have the option to return to the “What We Do” page or follow the in-text link to a relevant article. That’s four choices total, making it easy to pursue your highly specific interests from that page.
Lots of lawyers’ first impulse is to put every option right on the homepage, assuming that people will want every piece of information as soon as they get there. However, when you limit choices, you actually limit confusion. You also motivate people to self-select what they’re most interested in and propel themselves toward the most relevant pages in a logical way.
With a smart design and wisely limited choices, you reduce the work you need to put in, and you make your users happier.
3. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Most law firm website designs include photographs, images, and videos. However, most of those sites also make some glaring mistakes in how those images are used on the site or incorporated into the design.
You DO want to use images, but you want to be picky about what you use. You want high-quality photographs that look great. You want to use photos that tell a story and show your team in action, not just the same “bookshelf headshot” that you see on every other attorney website. Even if you’re using some stock photos, you want to be careful to choose images that make sense in the context and that aren’t too popular or overused by other websites. You don’t want to look generic or cheap!
Ultimately, the photos and other media that you use on your website are an opportunity to show your personality and make an immediate connection with your potential clients. If you choose a bunch of generic images or outdated headshots to showcase your firm, then generic and outdated is how people will think about your firm when they visit. So, don’t make that mistake.
Looking for a little more advice on getting it just right? Find out how to choose effective images for your website.
4. Readability Is Everything on a Law Firm Website
People visit your website on all kinds of devices with all kinds of different screen sizes. What that means is that the typeface and size of the text you use on your website is a much bigger consideration than it used to be.
This might seem like a tiny detail—but think about it. Why do people visit a law firm’s website? It’s usually because they need ANSWERS. They are there to research a legal issue, understand what to expect from a lawyer, or otherwise get informed before they make a decision about who to hire. If they can’t read what you have to say, then you aren’t meeting their needs—even if the content you have hidden behind that weird font is excellent!
You need to think about the “line-height,” which is the space between lines of text. (Remember when we talked about the “whitespace” between lines under tip #1?) If it’s too close, it’s hard for the eye to follow. If it’s too far, it looks a little disjointed on the page. When it’s just right, it’s nearly “invisible” because it lets the eye flow naturally over the text and to the next line. That’s just what you want!
Depending on what looks and works best in your law firm’s website design, you might choose a line-height that is between 120% to 200% of your font size. However, around 140% is probably the most popular, and it probably offers the best readability in most circumstances.
The typeface or “font” you choose matters here, too. Serif fonts are usually more challenging to read on the screen than a comparatively pared-down sans-serif font. So, sans-serif fonts are typically preferred.
Not convinced that these little text details make a difference? Let’s look at two examples, and then you can decide whether it’s a big deal.
Was the first example your favorite? Was it easier to read? Most people would say yes!
Responsive website design helps a lot in this respect because it can automatically detect the type of device being used and deliver an experience that’s best suited for that screen size, browser, etc. However, you still need to be intentional about what you choose to display, and you want to be careful to check how your website content looks on different browsers, desktop screen sizes, and mobile devices.
5. Think in Color to Elevate Your Law Firm Website Design
Even if you stick to “web-safe” colors, you still have a ton to choose from. However, it can be hard to hit the sweet spot between total “rainbow barf” and the severity of plain black and white.
When we start designing a law firm’s website, we typically work with our clients to narrow it down to three or four colors that we’ll use throughout their site. If the client doesn’t already have colors in mind, we’ll start looking for suggestions and inspiration in existing brand colors, colors that evoke a particular “tone” or “feel,” and colors that look particularly great on the Web. You want all your colors to work well together, and you want them to work well for your brand and message!
While choosing a few colors may not seem like a big deal, color has a lot of power. If you choose your colors randomly, you could end up with something like this:
Oh, my eyes! Even though the palette is limited, the shades and intensity of those particular reds, blues, and greens don’t really work well together. The most intense colors are used to draw the eye to empty whitespace, and it’s blinding compared to the somewhat sickly yellow links on the page. Overall, the color scheme makes the most important text on the page tough to read, and it gets in the way of what the page is actually trying to do.
That doesn’t mean that you have to go for something boring, though. Take a look at this example, which uses several shades of blue, red, and green to create a beautiful and cohesive page:
See what a difference it makes when you use color just a little bit smarter? It may not seem like a big decision when you’re designing a new website, but the colors you use can really make or break the whole look.
Thinking about changing up your colors or using them more intentionally? Find out everything you need to know about choosing a great color scheme for your website.
6. Repeat Your Message to Make it Stick
Consistency is so important in web design. You don’t want every page of your website to look like it came from a totally different business! Instead, every page on your site should repeat familiar motifs, whether that’s your brand message, tagline, colors, logo, or other elements.
Why? Your website probably plays a lot of different roles for your law firm. It informs potential clients. It reassures referral sources. It guides new clients, and it updates past clients that visit you again. Each of those types of visitors may land on your homepage initially, but they will ideally then move deeper into your site to follow the information that is most relevant to them.
For example, a potential client might move from your homepage to your car accident practice area page to your blog. A potential referral source might move from your homepage to your About Us page to your bio page or dedicated referral page.
In both of those examples, you don’t want either visitor to forget that they’re on YOUR website and researching YOUR law firm. Instead, you want each page to offer a familiar environment that lets them know they’re with you.
Want to make sure that every page on your website oozes everything your brand stands for? Get more information about how to create consistency between your website and your brand.
7. Design a Logical Journey Through Your Website
Your law firm’s website design should organize information logically. It should flow from the most important and relevant information to the least, and the way it’s all put together needs to make sense to someone who has never visited your website before.
A lot of lawyers don’t realize how big a part design plays in the way people move through the content and pages on their websites. Imagine your homepage was just a list of links to different pages and content in the order you posted them. A new visitor might see a blog about a current event, your DUI practice area page, and a new hire’s bio page long before they hit on the most important information on your website—and it definitely doesn’t help them find what they might be looking for.
Now, imagine that your homepage organizes all your pages and links by topic. A new visitor to your site can now quickly identify that they are most interested in family law topics. They are sent toward your family law practice area page, where they then move on to your FAQs about divorce. They find the answers they need, and then they end up at a contact form to request more information. The smart architecture of your website’s pages and content led that visitor on a logical journey from the general to the specific, and it put the means to take action at just the right place. And the best part is that they probably got there while the visitor in the first example is still scrolling by your “Happy New Year 2013” post in search of something useful!
Creating a logical flow means a way better experience for your users, and it makes it much easier for those users to find relevant pages and content that really offer value to them. It’s also a lot easier for them to find that content again—if they need to!
Are the Little Things Dragging Your Law Firm’s Website Down?
A lot of the tips above aren’t specific to law firms, but we know from experience that they do WORK in law firm website designs. Want to work with an award-winning team to make your website the best it can be? Join us for a website design consultation or give us a call at 888.886.0939.