These days, just as important as your office location and decor, your physical appearance, and other factors, is your presence on the web. Having an effective website is not just important — it’s crucial. But what makes up an effective website for attorneys? Read on.
Law firm websites
There are several important factors that any successful lawyer website needs in order to serve as a viable promotional tool. We’ll start in order of importance.
Ironically, this is generally the last thing discussed and planned for during website development. Often, as an afterthought. But in fact it is the most important part.
To start with, ask this question: What should the website do for your firm? It could be there to bring in new business. Perhaps you want it to represent you not only to your clients and potential clients, but also to other attorneys and people in the judicial system. There may be information it’s important for clients to have; similarly, there may be documents such as intake forms that you would like new and/or potential clients to be able to access.
And these options are not mutually exclusive. The best law firm websites often consist of a combination of the above features, and more.
Before you do anything else, sit down and make a list of the functions you would like your website to fulfill. Finally, prioritize those functions in order of most important first.
You’ve probably heard that content is king on the web. It is. And that content can be text, photos, videos, other visual items (such as infographics), and even audio files.
Some of that content may already exist at your law firm. Even if it is not up-to-date, it’s a good starting point from which to work. A skilled legal website production company can help you sort through it to determine what is usable, what needs to be “freshened up,” and where you may need to create entirely new content.
NOTE: Make sure that any website agency you select has a competent writing staff with experience in the legal field. It is almost certain that you are going to need editing of current materials as well as the addition of new written materials.
Now that you know what you want your website to do for you, and have listed the materials you have available (or will be creating), it’s time to determine how it will be organized.
Here — more than anywhere else in the process — it is vital that you can conceive of your website from the user’s point of view. This is where a company with experience creating legal websites can be especially valuable.
It is very easy for you to fall into the trap of assuming that everyone else knows what you do about the judicial process, the legal services you provide, and the experience and resources of your law firm. Your website production partner can help you see past this.
Now that the intent, content, and organization of the site has been determined, it is time to do design it. The design should serve multiple purposes simultaneously:
- Your law firm’s website should support and enhance all of the items above (functionality, content, and organization)
- Your firm’s website should make it clear and easy for the user to find exactly what they want as quickly and easily as possible
- The website should work seamlessly on all devices, wall-mounted large-screen and cell phones alike, along with every sized device in between
- Last but certainly not least, your firm’s site should clearly present you in the best light
There is a good guideline to remember when considering your website’s design: it should be transparent. What that means is that what users should be looking at is you, your law firm, the legal services you provide, and the people at the firm. An over-designed website (one with so many bells and whistles that in and of itself it captures the viewer’s attention) is just as bad as an amateurish, poorly designed website.