Law Firm Websites in 2017: 5 Trends to Avoid
Have you ever wondered which new web design and development trends are worth following and which should be avoided?
At Juris Digital our website team is obsessed with finding that perfect balance between form and function.
In this post we’re looking at five law firm website trends that we suggest you avoid in 2017.
Here we go!
5 Law Firm Website Trends to Avoid
1. All the images
Many law firms seem to be under the impression that because “using images” is a “best practice” their website should be composed of nothing but gigantic images. Gigantic images in the main banner, gigantic images behind body content, gigantic images in the footer.
While strategic use of effective imagery is essential to a well designed site, over-reliance on images makes for a clunky experience and worse, a slow website.
Images are among the heaviest files that browsers must load, and so, the more images you have on a given page of your law firm’s website, the slower that page will load.
Specifically, we advise that you avoid using any sort of scrolling banners images. Not only are sliding banners ineffective from a user experience standpoint, they are also tend rely on WordPress plugins that are render blocking which makes them horrible for page speed.
We suggest that in 2017 you prioritize site speed and cut superfluous images out of your website’s design.
2. Parallax scrolling
Even if you’ve never heard the term, you probably know what parallax scrolling is. Parallax scrolling is a web design technique where background images move slower than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth.
Bascially, it looks really cool. It’s a great feature on websites where graphics and imagery are the product, such as video games, films, and photography websites. It even has it’s place on ecommerce websites for certain products.
Where parallax scrolling doesn’t have a place is on your law firm’s website.
There is nothing wrong with trying to create a striking visual. It’s good to make an impression on your users. However, unlike the website for a video game or an artist’s portfolio, as a law firm your potential customers are far more interested in understanding how you can help them than they are in seeing big-ass images of your office and your staff as they scroll.
In the end, using parallax scrolling on your law firm website is a vanity move and will only serve to create a slow, overly-designed, and ineffective webpage. If you’re interested in understand more of the specific down-sides of using parallax scrolling check out this post.
3. Homepage-only focus
We commonly see that the homepage of a given law firm website is really the only page that was given any design consideration. It makes sense that your homepage ought to be an important focus in terms of design. However, neglecting the design of other important pages is a big mistake.
Because we help our clients with a variety of content marketing efforts which drives traffic to a variety of pages across their sites, we must take into account the design of those other pages.
For example, if your law firm generates much of its traffic and conversions through blogging, why would you neglect to design both your blog roll page and your individual blog posts based on the goals of those pages? Similarly, if you use your law firm website in order to enhance your reputation management, why would you fail to design your individual attorney bio page?
If you plan to re-design your law firm website in 2017 make sure that you consider all of your website’s important page types, not just the homepage.
4. Sticky headers that take up much of the viewport
Sticky headers – the feature that causes the site’s main header navigation bar to “stick” to the top of the viewport as the user scrolls – became a popular trend in law firm websites a couple of years back. Sticky headers can make sense in terms of facilitating ease of navigation, especially on long pages.
However, like all things, sticky headers can be taken to an extreme which ends up having a negative impact on user experience. Here is an example of a website that utilizes a sticky header. The issue is that on a common 1336px resolution, the sticky header is so tall that is takes up a huge portion of the viewport while the user scrolls:
5. Ignoring typography
This one isn’t so much a trend as it is a blanket recommendation.
There are few things that can make or break your law firm website’s design more than typography. After all, every page of your site has text, so optimizing your site’s typography doesn’t just impact one page or one part of the site, but rather it has an impact on everything the user sees.
We frequently see law firm websites which clearly paid a lot of attention to things like photography and scrolling effects, but did not pay similar attention to the readability of the words on the page. Especially if your firm invests in content marketing, it is essential that your typography be a design priority.
Bonus tips! 5 qualities your law firm’s website should have
- Easily accessible, functional internal site search
- Prominent click-to-call option on mobile resolutions
- Click-to-print button on content-rich pages (articles, blog posts, etc.)
- Social sharing buttons on pages that you want to be shared
- Breadcrumb navigation on internal website pages
You made it to the bottom; thanks for reading. If you have thoughts on the topic of law firm website trends to avoid please do chime in using the commenting below!
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