8 Website Design Mistakes That Your Law Firm Should Avoid

With over 1.3 million lawyers in the United States, it is more critical than ever for your law firm to make a stellar first impression on prospective clients.

With the majority of searches for lawyers beginning online, the key to outperforming your competitors is to design an outstanding website.

Unfortunately, some law firms fail in this area because they do not choose an experienced website designer and developer. Below are eight mistakes law firms make when selecting a new website provider.

1) Creating a website that is cluttered or difficult to navigate

“The best law firm websites have several things in common. First, they clearly communicate their value proposition…Related, your website should immediately make clear what types of services your firm offers. Prospective clients don’t want to surf through multiple pages just to figure out if your firm is a good fit.”

– The Florida Bar Practice Research Institute

Creating a website that is disorganized will hinder your ability to clearly convey your law firm’s values and types of services offered. Make sure that your website is well-organized and easy to navigate, and that visitors are easily able to decipher the types of services that you offer.

A lot of times this can go against what some people think are best practices. A lot of law firm websites out there have slider banner images on their homepages. These decrease conversions. Not only that, who actually spends the time to wait sixty seconds to see what messages you’re trying to send via a scrolling banner?

2) Failing to focus on website responsiveness

A responsive website is vital to the success of law firms of every size and specialty. A responsive website is a way of development that loads one version of your website and adds or removes elements based on your screen size. For example, a mobile user wouldn’t benefit from a large image that would work on a desktop and a desktop visitor may not benefit as much from a click to call phone number as a mobile user.

beliz-responsive

Above: Example of a responsive design that loads different depending on the size of your screen.

At Juris Digital we recommend mobile-friendly websites using a responsive design. For some reason, some website design and development operations still build completely separate mobile websites. This isn’t ideal and add’s a lot of complexity to the product. Plus you are much more likely to have ranking issues when you take this approach.

In addition to increasing traffic to your website, a responsive design provides a seamless user experience and will adapt to any screen size. Most importantly, a responsive website will allow you to save money and time on website maintenance in the long run.

3) Slow website speed

The biggest mistake I see law firms making is having a slow loading website. Having a website that is not built for users and search engines in mind will reduce your visibility and conversions.

Many law firms shoot themselves in the foot by hiring fly by night website builders who use pre-existing bulky themes. These end up hurting your firm’s organic search rankings. This problem is so common I am comfortable to say that I see this issue with 9/10 legal websites.

“Over 50% of mobile users abandoning sites that take longer than three seconds to load, but most web pages take a lot longer to load, creating a significant gap between consumers’ expectations and most businesses’ mobile capabilities.”

– David Kirkpatrick, Marketing Dive 

As consumer demand for instant gratification grows, your website’s speed is more important than ever. Failing to focus on this vital component of the website design process can drive prospects away from your website before they even have a chance to learn about your services.

Hiring a specialist who will properly monitor and manage your website’s speed will help you maintain a competitive edge in the legal field.

4) Skimping on costs with a free website builder

While free website builders are certainly cost-effective on the front end, they often involve costs on the back end when you need support the most.

Additionally, they typically do not include SEO services, blog assistance, or much in the way of editing abilities. You might end up spending more on your website with a free website building tool than you would if you hired a professional website designer.

Other major issues with content management systems other than WordPress are their slow load times and lack of general SEO.

If you are using a free website builder there is just no way you are going to compete with firms who put the proper time and effort building a website.

5) Failing to include a call to action

Your law firm might have superb content and an award-winning design, but prospects may take their business elsewhere if you fail to include a compelling call to action.

Your call to action should be clearly stated on your website and feature the following elements:

  • A highly visible location on your website (On mobile this means a clickable phone number)
  • A verb that refers to the potential client that motivates them to take action and seek your services
  • A call to action button that looks clickable to uses

6) Hiring an SEO firm with no expertise in your industry

With over 95% of people using a search engine to seek legal advice, search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital part of the web design process. Hiring a web designer without any expertise in your area of the legal field will do little to help you attract new clients.

As you evaluate potential website designers, make sure that you seek a provider with expertise in the following areas:

  • Designing content for lawyers who work in your specialized field of practice
  • Creating engaging blogs and useful resources for clients and visitors
  • Knowledge of top keywords used by clients seeking services in your legal area
  • Ability to install and manage Google analytics

7) Designing websites that are not mobile-friendly

“The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds, according to a new analysis. Yet 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s a big problem.”

– Google 

With more than 60% of search queries now originating from mobile devices, it is more critical than ever to create a website that is mobile friendly. This means designing a website that is attractive and easy to navigate using a mobile device, while also offering a fast page loading speed. As you compare website designers, be sure to request references of existing customers and visit their websites using your own mobile device. If you encounter an unattractive design or slow loading speed, you should consider moving to the next prospective designer.

8) Failing to update your website

“An outdated website isn’t just a minor hitch. It can make your company look unprofessional or unreliable, exclude some users and even get you into legal trouble.”

– Clare Edwards, Houston Chronicle

Few things are more detrimental to your business than an outdated website. Finding an experienced designer who can replace broken links and stale content with fresh, useful information is essential to building a cutting-edge website for your law firm. Make sure that the website designer you hire has a forward-thinking approach to web design and has the expertise to continually identify and address opportunities for improvement.

What is the best measure you can take to address these mistakes?

Making the mistakes above will not spell doom for your law firm if you act swiftly to address them. The best way to tackle website design errors and prevent future mistakes is to seek the guidance of an industry expert.

A professional website designer with expertise in law firm website design can transform your lackluster website into a superb lead generation tool for your legal practice. We invite you to contact us today to find out how we can give you the competitive edge that your law firm needs to thrive in the legal profession. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Casey Meraz

Casey is the founder and president of Ethical SEO Consulting and Juris Digital based in Denver, CO. Casey's specialties are in organic and local SEO. He is a regular contributor to the Moz Blog and the author of How To Perform The Ultimate Local SEO Audit. If you have an SEO question or need advice please feel free to reach out by email: cmeraz@jurisdigital.com. Follow Casey on Twitter @CaseyMeraz.