Let’s face it - we now live in the digital age. New research suggests that 84% of consumers do some sort of online research before reaching their final decision during any transaction. These numbers have sharply risen since the invention of smartphones and mobile browsing.
Online presence is often the first encounter that any potential client will have with your firm. Think of your website as your digital waiting room. Now imagine walking into a potential law firm and the waiting room has peeling paint and decrepit furniture. You’d probably be more hesitant to have them represent you in court. So what components are necessary to have an enticing and professional 'digital waiting room' (website)?
1. Aesthetically Pleasing Visuals
The overall look and feel of your website will be important in grabbing the attention of users. Using consistent logo and thematic, brand colors throughout, compelling copy, strong headlines, use of video and photos is very important. Users will initially give a quick first glance at your overall site design. Your site needs a professional look and feel that speaks to your brand in an intuitive way. Avoid stock photography if possible and try to populate your site with authentic, professionally captured images of your team, office, and location.
2. Responsive Design
The rise of mobile users was mentioned earlier because according to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans own a smartphone and use it to access websites. The phrase "responsive design" refers to website layouts that adapt to the user’s screen size, platform, and orientation. All website designs should include a mobile version that includes all types of devices and browsers. Users will not bother with your site if it doesn’t display properly on mobile.
3. Fast Load Times
Google’s recent algorithm update actually penalizes websites that have long load times by moving them down in search rankings. Load time is an increasingly important factor to consider when developing your firm’s website. A rule of thumb is that your website should be fully loaded in less than four seconds otherwise it can be assumed that you have lost potential traffic.
4. Intuitive Site Navigation
User experience is also a crucial factor in ranking well on Google’s search algorithms. In order to properly assess your site navigation, put yourself in your clients' shoes: is it easy to find all the information that you came to the site to find? It’s always a best practice to ask a friend or relative to view it from an unbiased viewpoint too. RyTech puts all of the websites we build through rigorous blind testing.
5. Content-Rich Practice Area Pages
Practice area pages usually form the bulk of the content on most law firm websites. These pages are your chance to establish yourself as a leader in particular areas and provide compelling, targeted information about how your firm works. Think of this as your main argument in court: why you are the right choice for them and how your firm will handle their case. Valuable content and keyword focused practice area pages are going to play a critical role in turning website traffic into actual revenue for your firm.
6. Focused & Authoritative Blog
Publishing content on a regular basis is crucial to ensuring user engagement as well as search engine visibility (SEO). Consistent, relevant, and well-thought-out blog content not only improves your performance in search, but it also gives you an opportunity to cultivate a following, position yourself as a thought leader, and bring major visibility to the practice areas that create the most value for your law firm.
There are many elements to consider when designing a website to represent your business. Begin by examining your current website. Is is easy to navigate? Does your site load quickly? Is it ethically sound? Your website is the digital equivalent to an attention-grabbing storefront window on a busy street, so it's important to get it right!
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