1/5/11

Law Firm Web Design: Build It and They Will Come. Or Maybe They Won't.

Are you thinking about launching a law firm web site or redesigning your current one?

Let me impart one tiny bit of wisdom that I have learned over the last 15 years in this business--wait, it's been that long?! Oh, my. I am old ...

Anywhoo, back to my sage self: whether you are the designer, the project manager, the approving attorney or the outside consultant, please remember one very important thing.

You are designing your law firm site for site visitors.

Yes, this may seem like a no-brainer and should go without saying.

But I cannot over-emphasize this point. Because there always comes a time when you are designing a site when you begin designing to please those who are approving the site rather than those who are visiting the site.

Please remember, the law firm is not the client. The client is the client. Too many times I have seen law firm sites built to satisfy lawyers' needs, ambitions and desires rather than considering what the site visitor needs.

Think of it this way: what if you went on a hardware web site like Lowes or Home Depot and you were looking for latex paint. So you drill down to the paint category and there are all the paints listed in alphabetical order. Not by type, not by brand, not by size. Just in a huge list of paint numbers all jumbled together.

You wouldn't stay on that site for more than 5 seconds before you went on to the next hardware web site.

Site visitors feel the same way when they go to a law firm web site and see befuddling lists, endless columns and streams of bullet points.

I know it may sometimes seem easier to just please the approver but who really suffers in the end? That's right: your business and your web traffic.

So do the right thing and design it right. It is, in fact, what they are paying you to do.

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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice article

Jon Lin said...

The hard part for website owners, especially those working in non-web companies, is that everyone thinks they know a thing or 2 about designing sites.

Also, another term I like to use for the "approver" is a "hippo" which stands for Highest Paid Person's Opinion. Usually, you are going to lose that battle if all you have is your opinion vs. theirs.

The best way I've found to battle hippos, as well as to figure out whether your users find your site usable and the information on it valuable, is to actually get feedback from actual site visitors before you build anything.

Ayelette Robinson said...

Good advice, Lisa.

Gyi Tsakalakis said...

Good post and comments. No doubt that design is critical, once you have visitors.

From the Title, I thought we were going to talk marketing of the site online, which of course, is the other side of the coin.

Due to an information gap, too many still believe that merely "having a website" is enough to attract visitors. In case there's still a question on that, it's not.

Lisa Salazar said...

Hahaha, John! Hippo--I like it!

Eliza Winters said...

Really great advice for law firm web design. I designed the site for my company and I had a really hard time getting approval on it from the owners. The wanted it to be set up more user friendly for them, and more understandable to people within the business. That's fine however, the real need is to make it usable to that end user who has the potential to be a client. They are the focus of the website, not corporate users.

 

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