Why Functional Web Design Is Essential for Your Law FirmMay 2017
In this day and age, more people find legal representation online than they find from billboards, from family and friends’ advice, or from the phone book. According to a survey published by FindLaw.com in 2014, 38% of respondents would use the internet to find a lawyer if they needed one—up from just 7% in 2005. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you have the most talented attorneys in the state, a spotless reputation, and spend a considerable chunk of change on advertising if you don’t have a web presence, you will miss out on more than a third of your potential client inquiries.
Related: Managing Your Law Firm's Brand
Of course, merely having a website isn’t enough to win over all those internet searchers. Nielsen reports the average American spends 11 hours each day staring at various screens. It’s fair to assume that a substantial percentage of that time is spent online—either using a computer or a mobile device. All this online time means that consumers have interacted with enough websites to recognize quality design and to associate it with business legitimacy. So how can your website help your business appear more professional and trustworthy to potential clients? The key is in functional web design. As we mentioned earlier, it’s not enough just to have a website. In fact, the usability and messaging of your website are both incredibly important. A low-quality website—that is confusing, uninformative, or poorly written—will drive clients away rather than draw them in.
The term “functional web design” can have a few different meanings depending on perspective. For instance, a “functional” website will be one that is intuitively usable. The site should load quickly, be responsive (e.g. mobile-friendly), and have a clear, simple navigation interface. Your visitors should be able to come to your site, on any device, and quickly find what they are looking for—be it your firm’s contact information, details about the services you provide, or answers to common legal questions. Other factors to consider are the text-to-background contrast (make sure your site is easy to read), and content that makes use of various sections and headings (to ensure readers can scan content and find the information they seek).
A “functional” website will also have a very intentional function that does a terrific job at accomplishing your goals. As a law firm, the primary purpose of your site is to convince visitors to schedule a legal consultation with your team. To achieve this, you need to convince your visitors that 1) you are qualified to handle their legal matter, and 2) that they can trust you to handle their unique situation. Your site should, therefore, provide detailed descriptions of the services you offer. Use “About” pages that describe your lawyers, their interests, and their credentials. Post informative, in-depth content to prove that you are current and knowledgeable. These aspects of web pages all contribute to improving functional design—therefore leading to increased dwell and conversion rates.