Designing a website has become much easier as technology and programming knowledge have advanced. Although it can be a trip down memory lane to see a site that belongs in the 1990s or MySpace era, those designs likely won’t drive a lot of business to your law firm or portray you as a reputable source of current legal information.
Crafting an appealing web design isn’t rocket science, but it takes some effort and guidance if you want to create a lasting impression after launch.
Design Basics: Guiding the User’s Journey
Some design principles can boost your website’s success, especially if you implement a design that fits your vision and is appealing to others.
Users will look for a few things when they visit your firm’s site, which can determine if they stay with you or look elsewhere.
Take Care of the Basics
The old adage might warn people not to judge a book by its cover, but many users will judge a law firm by its website. Think of it as an extension of your office. When they click on your site or enter the front door, what will be most users’ first impression?
They’ll be looking to see if your site is accessible, if the information is clear, or if it’s a professional-looking site. This will often translate into a professional-feeling law firm. You can accomplish this with legible fonts and useful legal information demonstrating a grasp of your practice areas.
Once you present your firm as a trusted source, you can reinforce the idea by including favorable client reviews or awards from outside organizations.
Are You a Good Fit?
Once users determine the site looks clean and intelligible, they’ll check for the information they need. This should appear on their screen quickly. Someone looking for a personal injury law firm will not scroll too far through the details of your employment law practice before moving on to a website that addresses their need.
At this point in the journey, a user might want to see what the lawyer they might be working with or hiring looks like. Therefore, it’s a good idea to include a headshot on the page. This provides familiarity and helps build a relationship.
Using a high-quality, recent photo can display your authenticity while acknowledging that you’re a real person. Low-quality or doctored photos can implant doubt in clients: if you’re lying about what you look like, what else might you be lying about?
Navigation: Can Users Find What They Need?
Once a user finds a site trustworthy and informative, they will go deeper into the content or look for a way to contact your firm. Having formats that fit their preferences strongly indicates your services can benefit them.
Someone working throughout the day may not have time to call during business hours, but if they can leave a message or use a chat feature, they’re more likely to stick with your firm instead of finding someone else.
Design elements with proven contact capabilities, like “Click to Call” buttons or highlighting your firm’s contact information and processes. Including contact information in navigation elements can provide clients with easy access to your firm.
The Nitty-Gritty of Law Firm Web Design
The remainder of your law firm’s design process should support your vision and ultimate purpose: getting more cases.
Some designers build new sites from templates, but Postali opts for customization, utilizing elements that let sites stand out in the legal industry.
Attorneys operate in close competition with other firms, so creating an appealing, functional, and effective site is necessary to attract more business.
Find Your Firm’s Desired Design
With Postali, the design process starts with a brainstorming session. Designers will meet with the client to discuss what they hope to accomplish with their website. Although the obvious answer for creating a website is to attract business, you may want cases in specific practice areas.
Hanna Pittman, Postali Web Designer, said the creative meetings with clients provide valuable insight into the client’s goal, what they’re picturing, and what elements they want to implement. Getting information directly from the client helps gets the project started in the right direction.”
The Site Build: Fitting the Parts Together
You shouldn’t just “copy+paste” styles or design elements together to make a new product.
Your firm’s site will need aesthetically pleasing and an overall cohesive theme. Something as simple as matching your new website’s colors to your firm’s colors is essential, and it sets the tone for a design. You should be aware of what could make your site unattractive or even inaccessible to some users: clashing colors, difficult-to-read fonts, or messy layouts.
“You can’t just take someone else’s website piece by piece and use it for your own design. Most sites out there don’t meet our standards for legibility and accessibility. Still, if there’s something that’s inspired us from a different site, we will usually find a way to incorporate them,” according to Hanna. “We’re fitting puzzle pieces together to build a new design.”
Postali designs are also completed with the future in mind, using elements the client can access and edit after the site’s launch. Accessing and controlling a website after it’s completed means a law firm can adapt and evolve the design to keep it modern and continue to grow.
Rework & Review: Sculpting the Final Design
You may need to work through a few iterations before getting to your desired design, working with mobile and desktop formats. It’s essential to keep an eye on all manners of accessing websites, especially as more people use smart devices. A desktop design may not work on a smaller screen, so building both layouts simultaneously allows the process to move smoothly.
As your final design nears completion, the design team will prepare mock-ups of the final product. A mock-up should illustrate the firm’s home page, landing pages, and other essential page formats. Once these are established, more features and custom elements can be added.
Collaboration Gives Design Life
As the website’s design gels, there’s the added consideration of what’s needed to make certain functions of the site work. That usually means a designer sitting down with a web developer.
Some sites can incorporate videos that bloom when a user hovers over a phrase or specific text. Infographics or interactive timelines can help a law firm stand out while creating a unique user experience.
“It’s often something that might make the design pop and look more high-end, which ultimately conveys a high-end law firm. That extra detail can hint at a more attentive law firm,” says Hanna.
Liftoff: Launching Your Firm’s Website
Before a website goes live, paying attention to anything that might be broken or not look as intended is vital. You can better identify flawed design elements by relying on professional designers before launching the site. After all, they’d know to check for things like image sizing and functionality of features.
A professional team can also adjust the site after the site’s had time to generate data.
“Hard data can let the team know if the design is working well. That’s hard to see before it goes live, but once you can see what’s working and what isn’t, you can adjust,” according to Hanna. “There’s a reason there are best practices for designers, guiding things like button size, but a good design follows a dichotomy: working with the rules of best practice while still delivering something extraordinary.”
Designing a Vision Together
A website must be your firm’s digital front desk, intake center, sales tool, and more.
Many businesses, like the legal industry, traditionally had a brick-and-mortar feel, where potential clients walked through a door to engage in their services. As technology progresses, many of these industries have had to adapt. Law firms are no exception.
Although using a website template can be how your firm starts out, Postali’s customization and creativity in the legal sector make quality law firms stand out. We’ve helped lawyers attract cases for over a decade, producing award-winning websites in virtually every area of practice.
Contact Postali so we can help you help your firm.
The post The Website Design Process — From Start to Finish appeared first on Postali.