Web Design Mistakes To Avoid

What does your website say about your firm? It’s important to build up your website with useful content like attorney profiles and blog posts, but in today’s fast-paced digital world first impression matter more than ever. If your site design is outdated, unattractive, or difficult to use, most visitors will never make it to your content before hitting the back button. Luckily, many of the most common website mistakes law firms make are easily avoided. Steer clear of these web design mistakes for a better, more useful site that visitors will love.

Poor image choices

The web is increasingly a visually appealing medium, with stunning photography and artful design taking the place of the solid, workhorse site designs of the past. Using inexpensive stock photography is a shortcut that can immediately make your site feel out of date. The heavily used photo of people in suits smiling while shaking hands or an over-saturated image off a chessboard meant to indicate the strategic approach your firm takes just doesn’t cut it anymore. Investing in custom photography is one of the best ways to strengthen the visual expression of your brand. If custom photos are not possible, at least avoid using cheesy or cliche stock photos on your site.

Ignoring mobile web needs

It is official: studies show that mobile web traffic has outstripped desktop web traffic for the first time. Though plenty of people are still viewing your firm’s website on their desktop or laptop computer, you cannot ignore those who are accessing it from their smartphone or tablet. Web sites that do not deliver a seamless mobile experience are much less likely to capture the interest of their visitors. When a user is not yet invested in what you can offer, they are unlikely to be willing to deal with a website that is difficult to navigate when it is just as easy to move on to the next search result.

Responsive design is the new standard; this method allows your site to “respond” to the device that’s accessing it, giving an ideal experience whether you are on an iPhone or a widescreen mega-monitor. Using a separate mobile (or “mobi”) website is old-fashioned, can negatively impact your search ranking, and is confusing for users. Remember that many people use their mobile device for casual research and may then access your website on a desktop computer when they are ready for more information. You want the transition between the two devices to be smooth so it is easy for the user to pick up where they left off.

Homepage carousels

An auto-rotating carousel of images at the top of a homepage is a common sight, but that does not mean it is the best choice. Usability studies show that a static image has exponentially higher conversion rates than a rotating carousel, and even within a homepage slider, often the first image in the carousel far outstrips any of the other images, indicating that the later images may as well not exist. Instead of creating a slider, focus on choosing one strong message to promote. Analyzing your web traffic is an easy and strategic way to determine what headline deserves that top spot. Consider what content visitors are most often looking for and direct them that way. You can always change your call to action if the analytics determine that another section is more useful, but focusing on a single message will direct your visitors and lead to improved click-through rates.

Bland attorney profiles

Your attorneys are real people that potential clients can emotionally connect with more than they will with any piece of content on your website. So why do so many firms make their attorney profiles as sterile as possible? Forget the cookie-cutter attorney bio with fill-in-the-blank resume facts and stern professional headshot. Instead, let some personality show through. In addition to the facts of an attorney’s legal expertise, the bio is a great way to give potential clients a feeling for what working with an attorney would be like. Professional headshots do not have to be the adult equivalent of yearbook photos; an attorney who practices family law might include a more casual photo or even one of them with their own family. Even those practicing in a more conservative field could benefit from a headshot with a little more personality.

Although a strong foundation including a fully integrated mobile experience is crucial to creating a strong website, many other mistakes can easily be avoided or rectified without major changes to the technology used on the site. Cliche stock photography can quickly make even the nicest website look chintzy and out of date, and creating a homepage carousel is simply a waste of effort. Instead of spending the time and energy on multiple headlines and calls to action, work strategically to determine the single most powerful headline to present to visitors. Finally, break out of the rote, boring format for attorney bios and headshots to encourage a more personal connection between site visitors and your staff.