What makes a strong and effective law firm website? Nick Francis provides a simple guide to assessing your site and identifying areas for improvement, to make sure your site showcases your firm and helps you win clients

Nick Francis

In today’s digital age and newly remote-first world, an effective website is crucial for attracting new clients, as this is often your first impression on a potential client. Whether you’re a newly launched firm or an established one, your website needs to be appealing and easy to use for current and potential clients. There’s no room for error or complacency when a competing firm’s website is just a click away from yours.

Online impressions: laptop screens, some with 'welcome' sign and shop awning, others with loading screens and error messages

© omadoig@btinternet.com

But how do you assess if your website is performing at its best? Luckily, you don’t need to be a web developer to end up with an impressive and efficient website. The below suggestions will help you determine if your site is working hard for you in our new reality, or if it needs a helping hand. Answer the following questions to learn how your site is performing, find opportunities to improve it, and better understand how clients evaluate your firm.

1. Create a good client experience

Is your site’s content clear and easy to understand?

A strong law firm website should get to the point, not bury its visitors in legal jargon. Depending on your firm’s potential clientele, legalese can be intimidating and off-putting. Good copywriting and plain language are the keys to success here. Consider hiring a copywriter to help you achieve this. Or ask someone who isn’t familiar with the area of law you practise to read over your website and give feedback. Above all else, keep it simple.

Is all the information on your website up to date?

Is your site easy to navigate?

Clear and simple navigation makes it easy to see the value you provide and helps funnel potential clients into taking action.

Is your website consistent in styling and navigation across all pages? Do all the links work? Are your calls to action (CTAs) straightforward?

Are the services you offer clear?

What legal services are included and how do they benefit the client? How do the services relate to problems clients are facing? This should be addressed through a clear description of services offered on your website. It’ll be tempting to delve into the minutiae when doing this, but keep it simple. You only need to touch on pain points or problems your prospective clients may have in order to give enough information.

Is it easy to find your firm’s contact information?

Clients shouldn’t have to struggle to call you or send you an email – especially as we’re in a new world of distanced living. Ideally, clients should have multiple ways to contact your firm. That way, they can get in touch in a way that suits them.

If you don’t have a standalone contact page, add one, and ensure that its navigation is in your header. Your firm’s contact details should also be clearly displayed on your homepage, and in the header and footer of every other page on your site.

Does your site offer online client intake?

If a client needs your help now, they shouldn’t have to play telephone tag. The best law firm websites also have online intake systems to help clients seamlessly start to get legal help. If your site uses intake forms, check where they are being sent, and ensure that the inbox is scrupulously monitored and managed.

2. Portray a strong brand that resonates

Are your visuals strong?

For a strong law firm brand, your website should have good quality, original images. Avoid stock photos wherever possible. Make sure your logo is crisp and in high resolution.

Ensure that there’s consistency across your website. Do you use the same colour scheme everywhere? Do you use the same font across your website? If there are any issues here, and you don’t have a web designer or access to one, look at investing in this resource for a short time.

Does your site feature social proof?

Testimonials, reviews and positive social posts can help build your reputation and put prospective clients at ease when looking at hiring you. These should be displayed prominently on your site. Include links wherever you can. Also consider using services like Trustpilot in order to encourage past clients to leave positive reviews and help improve your website’s search engine optimisation.

Do your bios and “About” page build authority?

Your website should include short bios showcasing the expertise of lawyers at your firm. Your “About” page should tie it all together by clearly stating your law firm’s mission. If you don’t have a mission, it should be driven by your vision and values as a firm. A mission should provide focus and clarity in your strategic thinking, which will translate to a clearer, stronger message for your potential clients.

Does your site feature authoritative blog content?

Publishing blog posts, videos or other content on client pain points builds your reputation as an expert and builds trust with clients. If you provide valuable information and insights on your site for clients to access before you’re hired, they will know you’re an expert they can turn to.

Another benefit to providing content on your site is that it helps your website rank higher in search results, making it even easier for clients to find you. The first five search results in a search engine search receive 95% of traffic, and 75% of users do not scroll beyond the first page of results.

3. Test the technology

Do pages load quickly?

Your website pages should load in under two seconds. If they don’t, prospective clients will go back to a search engine and look elsewhere. Remember, your competitors are only a click away.

Test your site’s speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and take measures to improve it if necessary. These can be simple changes like optimising your images and enabling compression (where the file size of the image is shrunk to allow for faster loading times).

Is your site accessible?

Can people with low vision or limited motor capabilities easily navigate your website? There are lots of tools available that you can use to check if your site is accessible. For instance, a11y’s colour contrast accessibility validator analyses your site for colour contrast issues. Such tools are easy to use and help you identify any potential problems quickly. The Digital Accessibility Centre offers more detailed testing and technical reviews.

Is your site mobile-friendly?

People spend more and more time on their smartphones – and that includes when they’re looking for a lawyer. Your firm’s website should be visually appealing and easy to navigate on a mobile device. What looks good on desktop does not always translate to mobile.

Begin by checking your website on your own mobile device. Make adjustments accordingly. Most website builders now allow you to check on a desktop what every page of your site looks like on mobile. Use this tool when making design or navigation decisions.

Assessing your site and next steps

If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, you’ve checked the boxes for an appealing, easy-to-navigate website that aligns with client needs. But don’t get complacent – monitor your site’s performance and make updates as and when they’re needed. Consider taking some time to improve copy or source new images, or hiring someone to optimise your site for mobile, if needed. Small improvements can help you keep your site at the top of its game.

If you struggled to answer “yes” to a lot of these questions, your website needs work if you want to truly showcase your firm’s brand, reputation and excellent services. Break down what needs to be improved into an actionable list and start small, focusing on one issue at a time. Or consider hiring a marketing or website professional to help take your website to the next level. With consistent effort over time, you’ll end up with a strong, reputation-building law firm website.

If you answered “yes” to around half these questions, you’re doing well in some areas, but your site may need improvement in others. Maybe you’ve got great copy, but you’re using plain stock images. Or maybe you’ve got plenty of great reviews, but potential clients would never know it from visiting your website. Investing time, money and energy in improving weak areas will ensure your website becomes a valuable tool for attracting new clients.

Clio is a strategic partner of the Law Society.