Law Firm Website Design

2019 Actionable Guide to Website Design for Law Firms.

by Chris Lancaster

Updated October 22, 2019

Workers Designing a website for a law firm

Share

Included in this section:
  • Websites as Marketing Machines
  • Content Marketing
  • SEO Friendly
  • Responsive Design
  • Meta Descriptions and Search Snippets

  • Dwell Time
  • Click Through Rate
  • Bounce Rate
  • Factors of a Great User Experience

Our law firm websites are marketing machines. We develop websites to perform on Search Engines and Social Media. The end goal is to attract new client visits, educate them proving our expertise in the legal industry. When we can accomplish this goal it is more likely to have clients contact us for our services.

We give away all our information for free. If you would like to do this on your own it will take a lot of discipline to work on your internet reputation daily. Marketing services and products are evolving and being released at breakneck speed. Meaning you will need to stay up to date on online marketing continuing education as well as doing the work.

Giving away information to educate website visitors strategy works for law firms. Google search will place you in search result pages when your clients need you most.

This is what marketing companies call Content Marketing. I explain Content Marketing in depth here.

Some websites have great design and can be quite beautiful even though this matters there is so much more to what makes a website perform and generate leads than what is on the surface.

Some of the most successful web based companies have minimal graphic design consider Google, Amazon, Twitter and many others.

This section will show you how we build a S.E.O friendly website (SEO explained in depth here). If you want to invest the time in building your own law firm website.

Your law firms website should be the hub of all your marketing efforts. Your website establishes your law firms brand identity through media (photos, infographics, podcasts and videos), text content (pages and posts), color palette and font styles that establish brand.

Your law firm website gives you a place to display your law firms expertise (certificates, awards, associations) build rapport with clients (information and past client reviews) and capture client leads through various email forms, tracking pixels and re-targeting tech.

Doing all this is to provide the best user experience possible for potential and current clients.

65% of all searches are currently with smartphones. Websites must be mobile friendly and best practices should include Responsive Design for your law firm website.

In 2018 Google announced they rank websites in search result pages by the mobile (not desktop) content displayed on your website. 

You can use Google tools to test your website to see if it's mobile friendly.

https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

Keeping visitors on your website for a period of time is called "Dwell time".

When website visitors click through to your website from search result pages and only stay for a short time then go back to search results this is called "Bounce."

When visitors find your law firm through search engines.  The snippet of text they see on search result pages comes from what's called a meta description. This is built on the back end on the website page. You can use a free WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO to accomplish this.

Google will also sometimes highlight information from your website in addition to the meta description depending on the search term you use to find the website.

Meta description

The meta description is about 155 characters – a tag in website HTML code – which summarizes a page's content. Search engines show the meta description in search result pages when the searched-for phrase is within the description optimizing the meta description is very important for on-page SEO .

When a searcher finds a description that they like most they will click on the link in search.

Google calls this the Click Through Rate (CTR). When Google shows your website in search result pages and your CTR is low (under 1%) Google will most likely demote your website to a lower position. When the CTR is high an industry standard is just above 1% Google is more likely to give your website better ranking.

Click Rate defined by the dictionary is "the percentage of people visiting a web page who access a hypertext link to a particular advertisement."

This is why meta descriptions are so important. Once your law firm website reaches the first page of search results it's in competition with the other best results.

Google will serve 10-20 results on page one and if your law firms website meta description is not enticing searchers to click your websites link in search results your law firms website rank will likely decrease cue to low click rate.

Once they enter your law firms website, if they do not find what they are looking for quickly they will go back to the search results page. Searchers will "bounce" back to search results and search engines track this behavior to measure a website visitors experience.

If your law firms website has a high "Bounce Rate" search engines will penalize your search ranking position.

Bounce Rate is defined as "the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page."

Search engines will assume your website does not have the content searchers are looking for if the bounce rate is too high.

A high click through rate with low bounce percentage and long dwell time proves your website provides a great user experience and has the information searchers are looking for.

The factors of a great user experience include (but are not limited to)

  • Easy to understand reading.
  • Proof of expertise.
  • Proof of trustworthiness.
  • Content that builds authority.
  • Interesting media including podcasts, infographics, photos and videos.
  • Super fast loading website pages.
  • Easy for clients to contact your law firm.
  • Easy to use navigation. (no more than 3 clicks to any page)
  • Educational information that provides all they need without going from website to website.
  • Easy to find business information including address, phone, email, and names of employees.

Another thing to consider is having a SSL certificate on your domain.

It's primary function is to secure emails with private information transmitted from potential clients.

You can see if a website has an SSL security certificate if the browser displays a padlock. Your website will also read https not http.

HTTP is short for HyperText Transfer Protocol.

HTTPS means HyperText Transfer Protocol Secured.

Your hosting usually provides a paid for SSL solution or if your hosting provider allows for it you can get a free SSL certificate at

https://letsencrypt.org/

ssl certificate

Using Wordpress for Law Firm Websites

Included in this section:
  • Why a Content Management System is important.
  • Information Architecture.
  • What are Permalinks.
  • What is Schema and Where you should use it.
[wpmudev-video video="add-new-page" width="250" height="250"]
[wpmudev-video video="add-heading" width="250" height="250"]

We use WordPress as a law firms website content management system.

A website is a collection of files hosted on a server and the browser uses code to recall those files to be displayed in how that website was developed. WordPress powers 27%(75,000,000+) of all websites currently active on the web.

WordPress is a content management system that started off as a blogging platform.

WordPress was created to scale content. It is easy and fast to update custom content on your website.

WordPress also allows outside developers to create themes and plugins. Themes and plugins allow skilled website designers to customize and build efficient websites that are a great start for Search Engine Optimization.

The downside is that WordPress is so ubiquitous and without much barrier to entry a lot of amateurs try to build WordPress websites. This often leads to slow loading websites, terrible information architecture and barely functional on page S.E.O.

Another downside is that WordPress core files are all the same making it a target for hackers.

We use security plugins to keep out hackers and will cover that in the plugins section below.

A website that performs well is not just what you see on the surface but also well structured and well built behind the scenes.

[wpmudev-video video="settings" width="300" height="300"]
 

Information architecture. 

The architecture of your content should be structured like an outline.

H1, H2, H3 are heading tags.

H1 is your website pages main topic. H2 is a subtopic of the H1 tag. This pattern can go all the way down to H6.

Text content should support the headings.

H1 being the main topic should only be used once. H2 could be used as main sub topics that are relevant.

When considering heading tags, avoid utilizing keywords that are not useful in ranking results.

A good WordPress theme should make marking up your content easy.

Permalinks

Permalinks are the names of your websites pages (URLs).

Permalinks in WordPress are not optimal by default. Most of the time they default to reading as

www.yourlawfirm.com/?p=123

With WordPress it's easy to set up your permalinks and have your web site page URL's read

www.yourlawfirm.com/category/topic

An example would be:

before setting permalinks

https://lancastermarketing.co/?p=123

after setting permalinks

https://lancastermarketing.co/law-firm-seo/

permalinks example

After setting permalinks you can see it's easier for search engines and people to read the intent of the website page.

Schema  

Your law firms website should have correct meta and Schema information that communicates business information to Google such as name, address, phone, email, location and client review ratings.

Wordpress Themes we use

A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design.
[wpmudev-video video="install-themes" width="300" height="300"]
 

There thousands of WordPress themes to chose from. WordPress themes can be free or require a paid for premium license.

Of course like most things themes are not equal in quality. Some themes have minimal functionality and other themes are packed full of tools and premium software.

Many themes are industry specific and try to serve one niche or another. Other themes try to provide everything and the kitchen sink.

Themes that are specific may or may not be well built so just because it says "legal" or "lawyer" does not mean it's the absolute best option.

Themes that offer everything imaginable are loaded full of code that you won't need to use such as built in eCommerce. That extra code can slow down your websites page loading speed. Page loading speed is considered by many to be a top 5 Google ranking signal.

A few of themes we use include:

X Pro Theme & Genesis Framework

Wordpress Plugins

Plugins extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress website.
[wpmudev-video video="install-plugin" width="300" height="300"]
 

There are more than 29,000 WordPress plugins currently available.

Plugins like Themes are created mostly by outside developers. Plugin quality will be highly correlated with their developer.

Another thing to keep in mind is that WordPress is typically updated multiple times a month for security reasons. It is up to the developers of Themes and Plugins to make sure they are compatible with the current WordPress build.

At the same time Themes and Plugins are often updated for security and new features and functionality.

Plugins are a way to add customization to your website. There are almost too many functions of plugins to list in their entirety.

Plugins we currently use include:

Image Optimization

Images are important with helping website visitors understand your law firms content. They can slow down your website page load speed. We know how to solve that.

Images are an important part of your law firms website.

The problem is high quality images are usually very large files that slow down your law firms website page loading speed. If you make your images too small they will lose a lot of quality and give website visitors a poor impression and reflects on your law firms professionalism.

You want photos of your lawyers, paralegals and admins at the highest quality possible.

The catch 22 is that as the higher the quality the more information has to be downloaded resulting in slower website page loading. Slower loading websites tend to lose high ranking positions on search result pages.

How can you have high quality images AND super quick website page loading speed?

There are multiple ways including:

  • Image file types (png, jpg, svg, etc.)
  • Image file size
  • Stripping meta data before image upload
  • Plugins that prioritize when web page elements load
  • Plugins that smush image data without losing quality

A great website for image optimization is TinyPNG.com

You can see in the image above that TinyPNG has stripped enough information off each image to cut file size by 65-75%. The image does not lose quality or resolution but the file size on your website is much smaller giving you faster loading website pages.

We use a combination of all these for every law firm website we build.

Image file type can include .png, .jpg, .svg and others, each have their purpose depending on the goal trying to be accomplished.

Your law firm website should also have images that are the correct size for their containers. This means we won't use images that are 2000 x 2000 pixels when the image is viewed at 400 x 400 pixels. This is a very common mistake. The browser will load the entire 2000 x 2000 pixel image even if the 400 x 400 pixel image is the one that's displayed on the web page.

Page load speed and high quality images provide a better user experience and are both important factors of Search Engine Optimization. If you want to run an in depth analysis on your website regarding page load speed I highly recommend GTmetrix.com

GTmetrix gives you the full picture on how your site loads and helps you detect where bottlenecks are.

GTmetrix

Photo provided by GTmetrix.com

Using a CDN to speed up your law firm website

Why is a Content Delivery Network important ? A CDN speeds up website page loading and Google loves fast loading websites. Quick loading pages are more important than ever now that half website visits are by mobile devices.

Website loading speed is reported to be a top 5 Google ranking factor.

You can test your website page speed

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
or
GTmetrix.com

A CDN can help increase your law firm website search engine results by:

  1. Decreasing average page loading speed.
  2. Increasing dwell time by having secondary pages load quickly.
  3. Decreasing Bounce Rate.
  4. Speeds up your images to be indexed in Google Image Search

Website Embeds and Maps

Most law firm websites embed Google maps (or an alternative) directly into their website to show law firm location.

This is a great way to provide a convenient way for clients to find your law firms location.

It's extremely common but I do NOT recommend doing it.

Alternatively, I have found the best solution is to pull your law firms location up on Google Maps.

Screenshot the location as shown below.

Next add the image of the map to the website.

Hyper Link the image to Google Maps.

The map is available on your website and if a client needs to use the map to find your law firm the app will open immediately on their phone.

 All the function is still available to the client.

What you save by doing using the image and not the embed is a ton of time loading your website especially on phones.

Embeds have to run a fair amount of code from another source to show the map.

An image is much less to load especially when optimized properly.

This few seconds in website load speed can make a huge difference in lead generation.

Consider this:

Amazon found that just 100 milliseconds of extra load time cost them 1% in sales. ($1.6 Billion in Revenue.)

https://www.fastcompany.com/1825005/how-one-second-could-cost-amazon-16-billion-sales

According to 2018 research by Google, 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. If searchers find your website on Google then click through but that website takes too long to load they will bounce off and go back to search results. The higher this bounce rate percentage is the more likely your law firms website will be demoted and will not rank high in search engine results. When we build a website we build it with an obsession on load speed.

Law firms we help win online

    • Corporate Law Attorney
    • Disability Attorney
    • New Business Incorporation Attorney
    • Consumer Attorney
    • Intellectual Property Attorney
    • Patent Attorney
    • Trademark Attorney
    • Copyright Attorney
    • International Law Attorney
    • Divorce Attorney
    • Medical Malpractice Lawyer
    • Social Security Disability Lawyer
    • Civil Litigation Lawyer
    • General Practice Lawyer

Tags:

Website Design for Lawyers

Website Development

Wordpress for Lawyers

Related services:

Law Firm SEO (Search Engine Optimization) 
Law Firm PPC Advertising 
Law Firm Social Media Marketing
Law Firm Content Marketing