The Friday Five
Top Trends for Law Firm Websites
Want to update and improve your firm’s website? Take a lesson from what the most successful and tech-savvy sites have in common. Here are five things designers are working on specifically for law firm websites.
1. Optimize for mobile. A key improvement to your website is making sure the user experience is as good on any mobile device as it is on desktops and laptops. To be considered “optimized for mobile,” a site should be enabled for mobile features, such as a clickable phone number. Include a search bar so users can navigate to what they need from anywhere, and make sure the site is fast and readable on a small screen. You also want to make sure it is able to function through an iOS update.
Even on a tiny mobile screen, your website’s design should allow your firm to stand out from the competition. Web users tend to associate the quality of a firm with the quality of its website, even on mobile devices. Take care to ensure your site and message are coming across in a way that reflects your brand.
2. Update frequently. Most law firms realize that frequently updated websites are superior to static pages. Today’s sites should allow you to make changes and updates as often as you’d like — instantaneously. You should be holding the reins when it comes to posting new content on your site and blog, not the designer. A good website provides frequent, relevant and useful information and encourages visitors to engage with it.
Remember that regularly adding content gives your site an SEO boost, too, because search engines show a preference for sites that are frequently updated with new information. In the past, designers built law firm sites around meaningful keywords, but today’s sites often soar to the front pages of searches because they stay current.
3. Publish quality information. While you want to post often, don’t make the mistake of bombarding your audience with the equivalent of junk mail. Build a discriminating blog that doesn’t waste visitors’ time with nonsense. This doesn’t mean you need to write everything yourself — just be careful about what you post and share. Skip the viral memes and irrelevant articles. Always remember social media rule No. 1: Only share useful, quality information.
Your content is a reflection of who you are as a business. Give your site a reputation for publishing only the most useful articles and tips — those that demonstrate your knowledge of the types of cases you wish to take on. Your goal is to be seen as the go-to firm for those kinds of cases.
4. Connect social media dots. People expect to see your law firm on social media. Linking your site to Google+ and other social media sites can increase the visibility of your content and build awareness of your firm among potential clients. Also, sharing content via social media — in addition to your website — creates many pathways, increasing the chances of people finding you on the web.
Make sure all of your social media profiles are accessible on your website and blog — if you have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, list those links on your site. You want to make it as easy as a click to follow your social media channels. Also, include the link back to your website on your social media profiles. Go further: Add social media “share” buttons to the end of every blog post so visitors can share your articles with their contacts.
5. Give clients access to what they need. One website trend that’s not ubiquitous, but growing in popularity, is the integration of special tools just for clients: bill pay systems, direct messaging to individual lawyers, Frequently Asked Law Questions, and storage of documents and records that clients can download and print. This adds value for the client and the law firm. Clients can do business at their convenience, remotely, and the law firm can devote fewer resources to repetitive administrative tasks.
The most important website features are the classics, such as quality design and seamless functionality. Always provide contact information and content that allows users to get a sense of your firm’s strengths. And if you want to show that your firm is leading-edge, follow these five tips to keep your website current.
Karin Conroy is a legal marketing consultant specializing in creating award-winning websites and building online reputations for law firms. Karin has an MBA from the University of California and has a background in design, creative direction, and marketing management. Follow her @karinconroy.