A website is the most powerful tool for companies to increase brand exposure, draw an ideal client, and provide value to both current and future clients. People make decisions about law firms based on their online presence, and not having a compelling, comprehensible, and informative website usually results in countless clients and opportunities lost.
In today’s article, our web design agency in Chicago takes you step-by-step through all the critical areas of successful Chicago attorney website design. This post draws information from our extensive experience providing web design services to Chicago law firms. We’ll cover multiple areas, including:
- The basics of law firm website design and development
- How to optimize a website to drive online search traffic
- Law firm website copywriting tips for improving communication with clients
- Ethical marketing considerations
- Chicago attorney website design tips and best practices
How attorney website design can grow your business in Chicago
Regardless of how a potential client finds your law firm, their next step is most likely to be going online to gather more information. According to the Legal Trends Report, 57% of clients search for a law firm on their own, with 17% using an online search engine and an equal percentage visiting an attorney’s website.
Even if your potential client finds out about your law firm through personal referrals, they are most likely to check those recommendations online. On the other hand, your online marketing efforts become even more vital to those clients that turn directly to the internet when facing a legal problem.
The basics of law firm website design and development
Once you decide to invest in your company’s online presence, the next step is thinking about the type, look and feel of your future website. In this section of our Chicago attorney website design recommendations, we’ll explore various options at your disposal when creating your website.
Do-it-yourself web design or a professional agency?
The amount of money you need to dedicate to the website design generally depends on the industry and the practice area your law firm operates. If the majority of your clients come from personal referrals and repeat business, you might need nothing more than a basic website that features your phone number, address, law firm name, and other basic info. On the other hand, if fierce competition requires your business to stand out from other law firms in Chicago, it is undoubtedly worth investing more into your Chicago attorney website design.
There are two choices to consider for your web design:
- DIY website builders
- Professional attorney website design agency
DIY website builders
If you feel comfortable designing the website yourself, you can use one of the various tools available online for a marginal cost:
- WordPress: This is one of the most popular and trusted website platforms that offers an intuitive editor along with mobile and desktop apps and customer support. Furthermore, the Sage WordPress theme is one of the best on the market for creating fast and SEO-optimized websites. However, working with WordPress does require some development skills.
- JurisPage: This is a platform exclusively made for law firm websites. Their web design and marketing agency is founded by a lawyer to help law firms generate more business and draw in more clients.
- LawLytics: LayLytics is a website creation platform intended for smaller law firms. Once you subscribe to one of their membership plans, LawLytics will see you through every design and technical aspect of creating and maintaining your website.
While DIY platforms are generally easy to use, the quality of design offered leaves much to be desired, especially if you haven’t already invested in your branding.
Professional attorney website design agency
There are many professional web design agencies that, like ours, specialize in law firm website design. Chicago attorney website design can cost you as little as a few thousand dollars or as much as $100,000, depending on the scale and the level of functionality your business requires. That includes comprehensive and unique custom-coded websites that tick every box on our design QA checklist.
Things to consider when hiring a professional attorney website design agency
If you opt for a professional Chicago attorney website design, the best way to ensure that you are getting the highest level of service for the best price is to shop around. Besides requiring price estimates from web design agencies, some additional information can help you make the right choice. With that in mind, here are some of the questions that clients usually ask when contacting our agency:
- When will you be available to create my website?
- How long will the process take?
- Will I be able to update website content on my own?
- Will you be able for future support in terms of software and security updates?
- Will you be able to restore my website in case it malfunctioned?
- How will you optimize my website for search engines?
- Will my website support mobile-first web design?
- Who owns the domain and hosting accounts?
While our agency will answer most of these questions up-front, some of them, such as the one regarding the duration of the website design and development process, will require more information on your side for us to determine your needs and wants.
Images and accessibility
Digital media and accessibility play a large role in how your potential clients see your business and the way they use your website to gather information. Here are a few things to consider when deciding on the look of your web pages.
Are you choosing the right images?
Images are a great way to communicate with your future clients. That’s why you need to ensure that they look professional and polished. Include high-quality imagery that reflects what your brand stands for.
Are your images increasing the time it takes for your website to load?
Mind the size of the images on your website and keep them as small as possible without sacrificing quality. The increased image size has the potential to slow down your web pages. According to Google, website owners should look to mobile site speed as a growth driver. The faster your website is, the better the user experience and the higher the chance to attract and engage visitors. You can use Google’s Test My Site tool to check the speed of your web pages.
Is your website mobile-friendly?
Google uses mobile site speed as one of the ranking factors on their SERP. So, even if the majority of your website visitors use desktops, making your website mobile-friendly will help them find your law firm online easier.
Since handheld devices have much smaller screen sizes, it is important that your content follows a logical flow of topics and organization and that your images seamlessly scale to a smaller presentation.
Is your website accessible?
Making your website ADA compliant will help you connect with a broader range of potential clients. While there are technical ways to make your site accessible to people with visual impairments who use screen readers or those with mobility difficulties who use an alternative to a mouse, you can also make some web design choices regarding contrast and colors.
Chicago attorney website design SEO
Optimizing your website for search engines will improve its visibility, thus making it easier for clients to find your law firm online. Though SEO is a complex practice, there are some basic steps you can make to ensure your Chicago attorney’s website ranks higher in Google and search engines alike:
- Write informative and engaging content
- Optimize your content for keywords
- Promote your content online
- Establish and maintain your online reputation
- Tend to any technical issues such as SEO spam
Although you can invest time to master the craft of SEO yourself, it may be a better option to hire an SEO agency in Chicago. The reason for this being a better choice is that search engine optimization is extremely time-consuming. Furthermore, SEO rules and best practices are constantly changing and evolving, so hiring an expert will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Chicago attorney website copywriting tips for improving communication with clients
While it is certainly important for your Chicago attorney website design to provide visual appeal, it also needs to be readable and engaging. A quality website can convince its visitors to take action and contact your law firm. That’s where good copywriting can help.
Here are a few tips on how to write an effective website copy that converts:
- Know your audience: Keep your readers in mind when writing a website copy. They are your targeting clients, your potential clients, and also people that may refer your law firm to other people. Make sure not to overuse legal jargon as that may confuse your target audience.
- Be concise: Keep your copy clear and understandable by using simpler words and shorter sentences. Your website copy will have a much greater effect if your audience is able to scan it and immediately understand what you are trying to say.
- Use calls to action: The main goal of your website is to convert a visitor into a client. Therefore, you need to think in terms of the actions you want them to take to reach that point. A call to action (CTA) is a line of text, usually in the form of a button or some other clickable element that drives website visitors to take a specific action. By carefully implementing CTAs, you can effectively guide your visitors toward conversion.
Ethical marketing considerations
Online marketing provides a great opportunity for Chicago law firms to grow their practice, but it also requires a great amount of responsibility. As a Chicago attorney, you are responsible for ensuring that your firm conducts its marketing ethically.
To stay compliant with your ethical obligations, you need to be familiar with the rules of your jurisdiction. We strongly advise looking into the American Bar Association’s model rules of professional conduct.
With that in mind, here are some common mistakes you should avoid :
- Testimonials: Including testimonials in your website design is a great way to showcase the positive experiences of former clients. However, as these are governed by many ethics rules, don’t forget to also include the appropriate disclaimers for your jurisdiction.
- Blogs: Some state bars, like California’s, have issued ethics opinions that blogs count as advertising, thus requiring website owners to label them as such and keep blog post copies for two years.
Chicago attorney website design tips and best practices
In this portion of our article, we’ll outline some of the best practices you should know when choosing the right web design agency to ensure that you end up creating the best possible website for your law firm:
Put your visitors first
While a website is a valuable marketing asset, the best websites are those that focus on meeting their clients’ needs rather than aggressively marketing the business. Once your site goes live, use analytics to determine how your visitors are using it. From there, you’ll be able to make data-driven decisions and improve its performance.
Make contact info easily accessible
People in search of legal help are already in a delicate position, and making your contact information prominent as well as providing multiple options for them to contact you (phone number, email address, social media profiles) can go a long way in building their trust.
Make your website easy to navigate
Your visitors mustn’t feel like they are solving a puzzle when using your website. That’s why it is a good idea to test your website usability by having friends of different backgrounds and age groups trying to perform a particular task, such as booking an appointment.
Must-have sections of your website
You should tailor your website design to your specific practice area. Here are the essential pages of law firm websites:
- About page: This is the section of your website where you can talk about the areas of law you are passionate about. Introduce yourself as you would while talking to a client face-to-face. That will give your website copy a more friendly and personal tone.
- Contact page: Every website needs a contact page, preferably with a form. Furthermore, many jurisdictions require it. The most important information to list on this page are:
- Phone number
- Social media links
The information you collect through contact forms will allow you to create a list of potential leads for follow-up.
- Blog pages: Use blog pages to educate your audience about what you know best and how it relates to their everyday issues. If you manage to tie in current events, you’ll create both interesting and informative posts. However, as we have already mentioned, make sure to check on your jurisdiction’s ethical rules before starting a blog.
- Testimonials: If you have satisfied clients who allow you to quote them, use it to your advantage by including their testimonials on your web pages. The testimonials will be more legitimate if you ask your clients to be specific. That will help your potential clients decide to choose you over your competitors.
- Fees: Fees are an essential element to consider when choosing a law firm. Let your future clients know whether you charge by the hour or you have a fixed fee. If your jurisdiction doesn’t require you to include an exact number, you can outline a rough estimate of what they can expect to pay.
Use HTML headers
Including header tags in HTML stresses the significance of the information and establishes content hierarchy. Why is this important? Well, the content on your web pages is likely to have multiple section titles and subheaders, aside from headers. If you were to give equal importance to each of these elements, it would be harder for your readers to find their way around searching for relevant information. The same goes for search engines. By appropriately implementing heading tags, you are helping them understand what each of your web pages is about.
Header tags also provide a higher level of accessibility, which is essential for your SEO efforts. People with visual impairments that use screen readers rely on headers to navigate your website content.
Fix broken links
Pages on other websites often get renamed or deleted, so it is essential to regularly test your external links in search of any that may be broken. Also, don’t let typos ruin your future clients’ user experience and present your website in an unprofessional light. Conduct spelling and grammar checks of your content as well.
Creating Chicago attorney websites takes skill and knowledge on how to implement web design in a way that presents your practice as trustworthy and attracts more clients. Successful websites offer more than eye-catching visuals. Everything from layout and contact information to lead generating forms should revolve around satisfying the needs and expectations of your target audience. Combining all of the website elements into an all-encompassing experience requires research, talent, and above all – dedicated individuals with a background in delivering top-tier products. If you search for such professionals, look no further and schedule a call with our agency.