Many lists of best practices for law firms’ websites cover design, use of templates, the importance of lawyer bio pages, and writing for SEO. These are all extremely important aspects of a successful law firm website, but we like to think a little more strategically.
Law firm websites can be complex beasts, usually with a high number of pages, and targeted towards a number of different client segments. Your website can never be the finished article. It requires constant updates and attention. Your clients will change as they’re with you, selecting you for different legal services, or growing older and requiring different services and a different approach. And they desire a personalised, individualised experience.
Your website is a long-term investment, and whilst client trends and technology may change, you’ll always have one. It’s better to think big and make decisions strategically.
Here’s our 5 ultimate website best practices for law firms.
1. Create personal journeys
When people visit your website, they expect you to know and recognise them. People’s browsing habits have been influenced and altered by Amazon, by Netflix, and online retail in general. Regardless of the fact that you’re a law firm, they want you to give them relevant content and offers at the right time, in the right place, in the right language and on the device they’re using.
Clients are diverse. Your law firm could be dealing with potential clients interested in commercial law, family law, criminal law – the list goes on. Each one of these clients is different, with a different purpose for coming to your website, and with specific needs and wants. Law firms need a website that recognises this, and can do something about it.
There’s no point showing someone looking for divorce advice an article on mergers and acquisitions.
Personalising the website journey for brand new visitors as well as previous ones, who might just happen to be clients, is vital. Personalisation creates brand affinity, provokes delight and wonderment, and shows that you care about the person visiting as an individual.
Law firms need to invest in a digital experience platform to power their website – one that takes data such as the channel the visitor arrived from, the device they’re using, what they searched for, what pages or content they’re looking at, and serves up the most relevant content to enrich their experience and fulfil their needs.
2. Own a content leadership position
Your law firm’s reputation and credibility are things that will always matter, for clients of all ages. Yes, it’s about providing the services clients need and doing a good job – so much so that you get recommended by existing clients to new ones. But more than this, given the content-rich, digital-first world we live in, and the need for information and opinion, your reputation is about what you say.
Law firms need to focus on owning a leadership position on the important topics of the day.
Law firms need to raise awareness of their social impact, and be courageous by sticking their head above the ramparts, recognising and accepting controversial topics, and be an organisation that engages, not just self-promotes.
Law firm content should deliver information and provoke change – changes in perception and behaviour.
3. Deliver content for the entire customer lifecycle
New generations appear and people get older – that’s just a fact of life. But with the new and the old comes different needs and expectations. Some potential clients need information right away in order to make a decision immediately. Others prefer to take their time, and will make a decision when they’re good and ready.
Both sets of client are equally as important, and law firms need to cater to both in terms of the content they provide, when they provide it, and how.
Law firms need the client portals, the chat-bots, and the mobile apps, which meet customer needs in the moment. But they also need to consider the long-term user journey, and how a customer’s requirements will change through their lifetime, and create services to match.
In the near future, flexibility and anticipation of customer desire will be important aspects of a law firm’s success.
The law firms that focus on engaging and delighting clients in the micro-moments when decisions are made will be the ones who flourish.
4. Build it before clients know they need it
What will your clients need from you in 3 years from now, in 5 years’ time, 10 years later?
Will it be clicking a link on your website to be immediately connected to a video call with one of your lawyers to start a conversation – a conversation the lawyer already knows a little about, having received information on the topics the caller has been browsing beforehand?
Will it be downloading a document they need – pre-created by your law firm – by inputting only a few pieces of information that automatically gets put straight into an existing template?
Whatever clients' needs might be in the future, your law firm needs to start anticipating and creating content that delivers explicit value for clients, before they even know they need it.
5. Never forget your goals
In the world of websites, nothing is ever finished, but there's always a goal, or multiple goals – if there isn’t, you have to question why you built it in the first place.
If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late. Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder
Law firms should always keep their primary objectives in mind when it comes to the next iteration, the next service offering, the next development on their website.
Following the HEART principle when it comes to goals is very helpful:
- Happiness: Do clients find it helpful, fun, and easy to use?
- Engagement: Do clients enjoy the content and features?
- Adoption: Do new clients see the value in the product or feature?
- Retention: Do clients keep coming back to complete a key action?
- Task Success: Do clients find the product quickly and complete tasks efficiently?
How can we help?
We work with three of the top ten law firms in the world. With over fifteen years of experience in delivering websites and digital products and services that provoke client delight and commercial triumph, when it comes to driving digital strategy to implementing tactics and measuring success, we can help.
If your law firm would like to discuss how we could radically transform the digital experience for your clients, please get in touch.
The 5 Ultimate Website Best Practices for Law Firms is part our series of articles dedicated to the legal profession:
- How Law Firms Can Become More Content
- The Future of the Client Portal in the Legal Sector
- The Impact of Digital Disruption on the Legal Sector
1. PWC, Law Firms’ Survey 2018; 2. The BTI Consulting Group, Legal Innovation and Technology Outlook 2019; 3. Law Gazette, 24 September 2018