You may hear that user experience (also referred to as UX) is a ranking factor for search engine results. It isn’t. It is a general design concept for Web pages, but it is actually ill-defined. Basically, the term refers to the ease of use of a website. If someone comes to your law firm’s site can they get to the relevant page quickly to find out the information they search? So, it concerns the menu structure, the menu presentation, and the indexing of the content of the pages in your site. It also concerns the design of the site with issues such as background and font color, font size and style and the amount of text on each page.
UX does have some knock-on effects for your site’s rankings and conversion of visitors to customers. For example, if your pages are slow to load, most visitors won’t hang around, but go back to the search results and go to the next page in the results instead. This gives you a high bounce rate, which is bad news for SEO. We have some tips on making websites more presentable and easier to use in this week’s report. These tips come from the Bruce Clay Blog, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, and Search Engine Land.
This article appeared on the Bruce Clay Blog at the beginning of the year. If you are a bit daunted about learning a whole new area of Web design, when you really ought to be paying attention to your legal caseload, this piece won’t overwhelm you. This gives you a gentle introduction to the topic. The author asked a number of UX experts to give a few tips on the concepts of user experience and what aspects of a website it includes.
This article appeared in Search Engine Journal this week. It puts a little more meat on the different topics of UX design. You won’t find specific instructions in this article but there are explanations of the different aspects of your site design that need UX attention. Think about the different landing pages on your site. People who get your law firm’s Web address off a card or a letterhead will arrive at your Home page. You need to make it very clear from there where customers looking for specific services should click in order to get to the right page of your site. You also need to make sure that the information on each page at least begins within the initial view of the page, and that the menu structure can be accessed without scrolling.
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One of the tips given in the Search Engine Journal article above was to compress images. Images provide a big headache in UX terms because they can give your law firm’s site a really sophisticated look, but if they take too long to load, they will lose you visitors. This article focuses on the benefits of images on sites and the issue of loading times. There are links through to a range of testing tools that will help you work out whether your site’s images are slowing its load time too much. Don’t be afraid to compress the images, or try an artistic slice of a photo to reduce the amount of space taken up by images on the site. Pictures of your law firm’s building, the main partners, and possibly also your reception area would really help familiarize potential clients with your firm, but optimize those images.
UX doesn’t just apply to your law firm’s site, it also applies to the adverts you place on other sites, and also, the performance of the sites that your adverts appear on. For a lot of sites, there are UX issues for advertising on the site as well as on other sites. However, as a law firm, you really shouldn’t be carrying advertisements on your site, so onsite issues don’t really apply to you. Pay attention to the size of your ad and make sure it is visible and easy to read when accessed from a mobile site. Ensure that your ad is placed on the host site in a prominent location on the page and that the link it contains is not broken.
User experience issues also impact on content. The length of the text on each page and the old habit of keyword stuffing can influence your rankings negatively and they can also irritate the visitor and make you law firm’s site difficult to use. You don’t want to split your content over too many pages. This guide suggests looking through your site and seeing whether you could merge pages. As with some of the other articles in this week’s reading list, there are tips on optimizing your images. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to have at least one page for each practice area of your firm, and then possibly further pages that explain different legal processes and the stages each involve. This will help your customers be prepared for the task ahead when they come in to see you. It also gives you content to keep people on the site and demonstrates to the potential client that you know what you are talking about. Make each of these practice pages easy to reach from the Home page and test their loading speed. With those tasks complete, you can be confident that your site has good UX qualities.