The best practices of website design are always subject to change, based on what’s working and what users are responding to. So good web design principles from 5 years ago may not hold true today.
If you’re still doing things that “worked back in 2012,” you might be hurting your search engine optimization (SEO), costing yourself leads, or even aggravating your users with a frustrating user experience.
So to make sure you’re doing all the right things by today’s standards, here is our list of 10 web design principles that are defining today’s high-performing websites in law.
1. Keep Your Lead Forms Simple
Less is more for your lead forms. Don’t make your would-be leads have to do too much to get in touch with you.
Their name, phone number, email address and a message is plenty. You will really see the bounce rate skyrocket on long forms, and people will literally drop off with every single field you make them fill out.
2. Remember: One Goal, One Button
It’s a simple principle called attention ratio. Each page should only have one goal. Let’s say your goal and call-to-action is “Sign up for a free consultation.” Great, strong offer, with a clear next step.
Now that button will get less and less attention as you start to add more things around it like:
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Read our blog
- Attend our seminar
If you add those 3 buttons/ links, your consultation button is now getting 1/4th the attention it should be, and will get far fewer clicks.
3. Use Emotive Copy
The words you choose are an important part of web design principles.
It’s a very popular misconception that lawyers need to be hyper-professional in the way that they write their website.
Yes, your site needs to frame you as a qualified and serious professional, but people respond to emotive copy, so you need to write to their emotions.
Let’s say you’re writing a page for child custody.
- The line most people write: “We are Springfield’s most experienced and knowledgeable child custody lawyers, and we can help you.”
- The line you should write: “Are you afraid you will lose your kids in the divorce?”
See the difference. The first is boilerplate and elicits no response. The second strikes an emotional cord.
4. Add Social Proof to Every Page
Trust is massively important in law. So you want to offer social proof (real people saying you’re the real deal) on every page.
This can be:
- Client testimonials
- Awards you’ve won
- Times you’ve been in the media (for the right reasons)
- Aggregated reviews from third-party sites like Google or Yelp
Of course, you can give these things their own pages. But they should be a part of every landing page you have, as a way of building enough confidence in your readers’ eyes for them to reach out to you today.
5. Good Web Design Principles Also Include Good Off-Page SEO
Be very mindful of the backlinks you use. The Google Penguin update has really cracked down on spammy links. It’s really punishing people with suspicious links, and rewarding people with strong/organic links.
But the good news is that if you have any you can take them down or (no-follow them) and see benefits in real time.
6. Don’t Send People to Your Homepage
This is really one of the most underrated web design principles out there today. Because most businesses are guilty of it.
If you’re sending people to your website (whether it’s a print ad, guest post, or PPC ad), don’t send the traffic to your homepage. Send them to something more targeted than that. Send them to the specific product or service you’re targeting.
You want people to be able to get the information that’s going to lead to them making a purchase decision in as few clicks as possible. So don’t make them go from the homepage to the service page that will lead to the sale.
Send them right to the service page.
7. Social Buttons are Overrated
Let me ask you something. Let’s say you’re Zanes Law and you’ve spent a lot of money on a billboard off the highway. If someone showed up at your law office asking about your services, would you send them to the billboard? Of course not.
So why send people to your social account from your webpage? Your social is there to serve your website. Not the other way around.
It’s a common misconception that good web design principles mean, “Oh we have to have our social buttons for people to interact with us.” No, you don’t. People are already interacting with you, and sending them offsite is just inviting them to drop off.
8. Keep an Active Blog
This one speaks for itself. Blog. Blog often. And blog well. If somebody arrives at your website and sees that you haven’t updated your blog since November 2015, that doesn’t look good on you.
Create a schedule and stick to it. Twice a month would be great. There is always lots to write and talk about in the field of law.
If you don’t think you have time, send some key points to a freelance writer to ghostwrite for you. A quick over the phone interview is often enough.
9. Test Everything
Success in web design isn’t achieved, it’s maintained. So you need to test everything so you can see what’s performing and what’s not.
You need to constantly look at your analytics to see how people are interacting with your content. You may discover you need to:
- Run A-B tests on headlines
- Change your microcopy on your forms
- Fix pages where users are bouncing
10. Avoid Stock Photography
Fact: People hate stock photography. It instantly turns people off and makes your website look cookie-cutter and thoughtless.
Always go with more interesting photographs, and real professional photography of your staff, instead of Shutterstock pictures of people leaning over a boardroom table or shaking hands.
So there you go. You now know 10 things about web design principles that most people don’t know. That should immediately put you ahead of most of your competition.
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