The winning argument doesn’t just … happen. It takes education, and then a commitment to continuous learning, research, preparation, talent, timing, and a host of other factors. While you were busy honing those skills over the years and building a practice; laws changed, technology changed, tactics changed. The best legal websites also don’t just … happen. Law firm websites have to change over time, too. But when? And how? Any why?
Imagine if your favorite restaurant didn’t offer online ordering at the start of the pandemic. I bet its site has this feature now. According to a recent study by PYMNTS.com, “digital still drives 30% of sales for more than half of all restaurants and remains crucial to their financial viability.” In a relatively short time frame, online ordering via a restaurant’s website or app has become business-critical in the food industry today.
Legal websites have the potential to generate new business, too, but only if the effort is made to modernize them for today’s client expectations.
In this post, I’ll cover everything you need to know about this topic—whether you’re approaching a website redesign on your own or with a partner like Omnizant.
What is a website redesign?
First things first: A website redesign typically entails changes or updates to a website’s content, user interface design, architecture, or navigation. The goal being to improve the site performance and experience for visitors.
All websites have two sides—a front end (what you see) and a back end (what you don’t see)—that influence how they function and perform. Both sides are essential factors to consider in a website redesign project.
The front end elements of a site include the layout, buttons, photos and graphics, navigation, and animations. It’s what visitors engage with and often gives the first visual impression of your firm. On the back end, that’s the code, system, and technical architecture that ensures everything works.
Hints your site could benefit from a refresh
A widely accepted best practice in marketing is to redesign your website every five years or less. Personally, I think a site starts to look stale at year three.
Beyond the passage of time, there are many reasons your firm might want to upgrade the website.
- It’s getting harder to attract new visitors and there’s been a drop in recurring visitors.
- The site loads slowly because it’s cluttered with landing pages and features that are no longer relevant.
- Your firm’s branding and former business model have nothing to do with the new one anymore. Maybe you want to serve new markets (i.e. more cities) or focus on different practice areas.
- People are spending less time on your site and the bounce rate and exit rate have significantly grown.
- Unsupported technologies, like Flash, that were once popular are now obsolete and difficult to fix.
- The cost and time it takes to maintain custom code on a legacy site or a buggy third-party platform may exceed redesigning the site from scratch.
- It’s not compliant with web accessibility standards.
- The starter website you built on Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, or another off-the-shelf provider, isn’t scaling with your firm and it’s setting an unprofessional or false impression. (Check out this handy post for more on leveraging your website to scale.)
- Competitors’ sites are offering a superior experience to prospective clients and are outranking yours in search results.
- Your firm’s ownership or leadership has changed, but the website hasn’t.
- Other technical issues are limiting your site’s visibility.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. I’ll unpack the top three reasons to redesign that might be holding your website back the most.
1. Your website does not help grow your firm
If your site isn’t generating consultation requests or calls, if it’s ranking poorly on search engines, or if the content no longer reflects the firm’s expertise, those are signs it’s misaligned with your business goals and can benefit from a redesign. An effective website attracts visitors, delivers helpful content, and inspires them to become clients which creates additional revenue.
2. Your site is hard to navigate
A website can be beautiful and still completely unusable. In fact, the majority of websites are designed to be aesthetically pleasing instead of easy for people to navigate. This is a mistake, especially for a legal professional. When a website is mobile-friendly and thoughtfully designed to meet web accessibility standards it gives your firm an edge over the competition.
3. Your site’s design and technology is outdated
A professional-looking website lends credibility and authority to your practice. A dated website can give the impression that the site is abandoned or the attorney is out of touch. Even images or links can break when a site sits untouched for too long. Visuals do matter. And if you’re rebranding, then you absolutely need a website redesign as well.
How to get started
Redesigning a website doesn’t actually start with graphic design, as the name implies. It takes a range of skill sets to produce a professional website and get it to rank well. However, it is possible to create a website without an agency partner as long as you don’t skip these steps …
Before jumping into a redesign, you’ll want to:
- Review your website’s current performance in Google Analytics, or another insights and reporting tool.
- Align your business goals with the goals for your website.
- Determine your target audience; the ideal client for your legal services.
- Create brand and messaging guidelines to refer to.
- Keep any of your existing, most highly trafficked web pages intact, or put redirects in place to maintain how they rank in search engine results.
If you’re still not sure what to do next, reach out and connect!
Even if your website seems ‘good enough,’ it can still be optimized to enhance your firm’s online presence. When designed, developed, and optimized properly, a website that’s routinely updated will start working as hard as you do.