When you think of a website, it’s important to think of it as a kind of real estate. Location is no longer quite as relevant as it once was. Even businesses that do most of their business in-house can easily be found online using a simple Google search. Interested parties punch the location into Google Maps and off they go. As a business, your first line of contact is your webpage. It’s where you make your first impression. Where your business is located no longer matters.
What are the three most important things for a website, then? User experience, user experience, and user experience. Today, digital real estate has become even more important than physical real estate. Your website is the central locus that connects you to your clients and your clients to social media pages, newsletters, podcasts, and vlogs.
So what are the major trends heading into 2019?
Improve User Experience With Wide Designs for Desktops and Laptops
When people sit down to do serious research, they generally use their desktop or their laptop. Those looking into hiring an attorney are usually pretty serious about what they’re doing. They want your page to be a resource for all their questions.
In terms of layout, you need to cater to desktop users and not just mobile devices. This means wider designs that promote ease of access and improve the user’s experience. Navigability is a key concern, but aesthetics are quite important as well.
Images that tell a story are possibly one of the most effective ways to communicate with your clients. Here, we’re talking about images of satisfied clients or clients facing a similar battle to the reader. For instance, firms that handle workers’ compensation lawsuits could employ images of those on the job or those recovering from injuries. These coupled with testimonials have proven highly effective.
Boilerplate or minimalist designs will not draw new clients. First impressions matter.
Optimize Your Site to Be Navigable on Mobile Devices
When thinking about your mobile design, you’ll want to focus on what’s immediately important to those who are looking at your site. Many people use tablets for the purpose of reading. In fact, that’s one of the primary reasons for using their mobile device. So if a potential client is interested in your site, they may prefer to use their tablet for the purpose of researching information that they’re interested in.
On your end, you want to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices. That includes, but is not limited to, adjusting your content pages, blog posts, FAQs, and information to be easily read on smaller screens.
Video Is More Important Now Than Ever
Some of the best sites nowadays have video of the firm’s top lawyers explaining their process, their goals, their mission, and the finer points of the law. This can include information such as:
- How your firm manages cases,
- Your mission in terms of representation,
- Your identity as a law firm,
- And much more.
For instance, if you are workers’ comp attorney, you can talk about some of the difficulties with the insurance claims process or why workers’ comp insurance companies deny certain claims. You can go on to talk about what you can for your clients in terms of appealing decisions when their claim is denied, the necessary steps in the process, and how your firm has helped others in their position.
For personal injury lawyers, you can talk about the steps in bringing an action against an at-fault party, the role insurance companies play in the process, and what information you’ll need to gather in order to present and prove their case.
The reason why this works is that it personalizes the information. While many people prefer to read, others prefer to gather their information through video. They can also look you in the eye, get a feel for who you are, and understand where you’re coming from. All of these are important when potential clients are making a decision.
So you should make videos explaining key areas of your practice to your clients.
Make Your Mission Known
Your Branding Can Separate You From Your Competitors
Lawyers may not be comfortable or familiar with the concept of branding, but the reason why those in marketing believe in it is that it gives a product, a company, and even a law firm a unique aura that separates it from competitors. Law firms need to be aware of this now that clients have much greater access to law firms in their locale.
Go back, say, 20 years, when the world was much smaller. If someone needed a lawyer, they would ask their friends. They can still do that, but now they also have access to Yelp, Google Reviews, and dozens of other outlets for the purpose of comparing one law firm to another.
These factors are hugely important, if a bit a reductive. There may possibly be a few top choices that a potential client considers, but after that, how are they deciding which law firm will represent them?
Stay True to Who You Are
This, of course, depends on the potential client’s individual goals. In the same way that lawyers have ideal clients, clients have lawyers that fit their personal goals. For your firm, branding entails staying true to who you are and understanding what you are about.
It also means introducing yourself to your clients with short bios. This can include honors achieved, cases won, and personal information about your life, hobbies, and things of that nature. Clients are in a vulnerable position and they need an advocate whom they can relate to.
Your Testimonials Speak to Your Success
Testimonials are a vital part of marketing. One thing that hasn’t changed is that word of mouth is still the best press a company can get. This is probably more true of law firms than most other companies.
What has changed is how much access we have to other people, their opinions, their insights, and their recommendations. Your testimonials speak to your success. Lawyers that have successfully represented clients need only ask for their testimonials. Happy clients are generally more than happy to write glowing recommendations after successful representation, large settlements, or beneficial jury verdicts.
So don’t be afraid to ask them after you’ve managed their case successfully. These can become a major part of your marketing and should be prominently displayed on your website.
When Minimalism Works: Your Menu
Confusing menus do not make for a successful visit. Remember what we said about digital real estate. The most important aspect is user experience. Simple and easily navigated menus help streamline the user’s experience. Well organized drop-down menus are key.
Reducing the size of your menus, however, requires better top-down organization. Nonetheless, there is such a thing as too much choice. Menu options for successful web pages are being scaled back dramatically. Simplicity is key, and less is more.
Interactivity and User Experience Are Driving Modern SEO
Interactivity is a large part of what is driving modern SEO. Why is that?
While keywords remain important, Google has recognized the vitality of user experience when ranking websites. In other words, Google is logging your visitor’s interactions with your website. The quality, duration, and nature of these interactions can radically improve your ranking in search engine results.
So when you’re thinking about content, think engaging. If your ideal clients have specific questions, answer them. You can answer them in vlogs or text, but make sure that getting information from your site is an intuitive process. When visitors arrive with specific questions and your site doesn’t provide an obvious way to find the answers, then you’re going to lose them quickly, and that will damage your SEO ranking.
If you need more guidance, we are happy to help. Schedule an appointment with our CEO, Travis, or call (714) 613-0042.
James Attorney Marketing