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10 Common Law Firm Website Mistakes

Website layout on desktop, tablet, and mobile
Law Firms

More than 20 years ago, researchers at Stanford University discovered the important role design played in a website’s perceived credibility. In a widely cited 2002 study, researchers found that 94% of website users’ first impressions are design-related. In addition, 75% of users will judge a company’s credibility based on its website design.

A lot has changed in the last two decades, and consumers now have even greater expectations and standards about their online experiences. That Stanford Web Credibility study was before smartphones, artificial intelligence, and social media changed the world and how businesses of all kinds — including law firms — market themselves. Arguably, if that study were conducted today, those numbers would be higher.

Yet, many law firm websites have some very common design flaws that impact everything from the firm’s credibility to its ability to attract and retain client leads. We previously listed seven of the top law firm website blunders, but given the critical role websites play in legal marketing, we’re adding an additional 10 common law firm website design mistakes law firms should correct:

Confusing Navigation

The easiest way to ensure a law firm website is user-friendly is by providing clear, concise navigation. Being able to quickly find information keeps visitors on a website longer and gives them a better experience — both of which increase the law firm’s credibility and the likelihood that visitors will convert into a client. Users should be able to travel deeper into the law firm website while also having the option to return to the home page from any other page on the website. Create a logical, simple, and user-friendly navigation menu that lets users drill down when they want without being presented with an overwhelming list of link options.

Unclear and Inconsistent Branding

While a logo and color palette are important aspects of a law firm’s brand, there is much more to branding than that. A law firm’s brand creates an overall perception of the firm and its services, professionals, values, credibility, and distinctions from its competitors. A law firm’s brand should be conveyed clearly and consistently throughout the website design. For example, a trusts and estates law firm that serves high net-worth people must communicate that through sophisticated design elements and messaging. On the contrary, a firm that represents low-income families in immigration matters must appeal to people who are less savvy about the legal system and are looking for children-friendly cues. Clear and consistent branding builds recognition, establishes trust, sets expectations, and supports the firm’s legal marketing strategy.

Faulty Functionality

Web pages that are slow to load and glitchy and hyperlinks that don’t work are just two of the many common functional design problems a law firm website may have. Slow-loading pages can often be blamed on too many or too large images, videos, or other big files. Broken links frequently show up due to web page archiving or deleting — whether on a law firm’s own website or a link to an outside site. Besides creating a bad user experience and hurting the law firm’s credibility, these mistakes also make visitors want to leave the site. This creates a missed opportunity to convert a web visitor into a client.

Bad Design

Simply put, a website that is cluttered, has too many colors, not enough white space, or too many link options to click is a poorly designed website. There is an instinct to provide as much information about a law firm as possible on a home page or landing page. Busy or messy websites that confuse the eyes also confuse the visitor. Many visitors will quickly leave in search of a law firm website that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Those that stay will likely miss the important information because it’s lost in all the text.

Hard-to-Read Text

There are a variety of design choices that may seem pretty but render the text illegible. When visitors have a hard time seeing the words, they’re certainly not going to get the message a law firm wants to convey. Huge chunks of text without enough space, multiple colors, not enough contrast between the text and the background (hint: light background with dark font is preferable), or varying font styles all make the reader’s eyes work too hard. Text needs to be incorporated into the website’s design thoughtfully to ensure it’s easy to read.

Not Searchable

When someone can’t find the information they need on a website, it can be frustrating. Whether it’s to see if the law firm handles a certain type of case or looking for a specific attorney’s name to vet a referral, a website visitor will have a better experience if they can search the website quickly. A website search function also provides great analytics regarding what information people most want to see on the website.

Plain and Boring

There are countless ways to make a website look good. As discussed above, a good website design is clutter-free — but if the site appears too plain it will look unfinished. Likewise, a website without images, graphics, pleasing colors, and other thoughtful design elements leaves the visitor with the impression that the law firm doesn’t care about how they appear, or is cheap or lazy. These are not the impressions a law firm wants to leave with potential clients or job candidates.

Missing or Hard to Find Basic Information

Basic law firm information like a phone number, email, and the office’s physical location(s) must be included on the website and easily found. The goal is for website visitors to take the next step and contact the law firm, but they can’t if this information is missing.

Not ADA Compliant

People with all ability levels must be able to read and navigate through a law firm’s website. The Americans with Disabilities Act has guidelines that apply to websites and requires them to be accessible to people with disabilities. While these are not laws, courts have interpreted the ADA to apply to websites as it does to physical spaces. These guidelines include providing alternative text for images, using descriptive link text, close captioning for videos, keyboard accessibility, clear and easy-to-read fonts, and making forms accessible.

Not Using Professionals

As demonstrated above, there’s a lot that goes into designing an effective law firm website. Do-it-yourself websites may seem like the easy and less expensive path, but they still take time — often more time than a professional website designer might take to build or refresh a website. Given the important role law firm websites play in marketing, business development, and recruiting, it should be designed, built, and maintained by professionals. It’s an investment worth making.

Scorpion helps law firms design and build websites that tell the right story, generate more leads, and increase revenue.