Attorney websites, by their nature, tend toward the formulaic. As a marketing tool, much of their function is instructive. Prospects want to learn about a firm, the types of cases it handles and the ways in which it assists clients’ unique needs. Unfortunately, this information often falls into predictable categories, and breaking out of those categories – or trying to be too clever – can cause confusion and frustrate users into clicking away.
However, just because lawyer websites must contain similar information does not mean they must all use the same conventional structure. Modern websites are increasingly able to break the grid and employ more creative composition techniques.
Technology is giving law firms more freedom to distinguish themselves with innovative design. Monitor standards have evolved, giving websites more room to breathe. Users no longer expect to see closed sites with distinct borders and backgrounds, or three columns that just run the whole length of the page. Pages are more open, sectioned into areas that may contain varying column widths. Design elements must, of course, still be organized and clean, and the layout should direct users through the page to the most important information. But the options for how to achieve this continue to expand.
Some years ago, Flash was one of the only methods a lawyer website could employ to break the website mold both in terms of structure and interactivity. But using Flash in website design is becoming increasingly obsolete. Flash is bulky. It hides important information from search engines and is not compatible with mobile platforms like the iPad. Dynamic programming languages, like Ajax and HTML5 easily replace Flash elements with lighter, more SEO friendly interactivity.
Breaking the lawyer website mold can help position your firm as an industry leader. It will make your law firm’s brand unique and memorable. Attorneys and firms that are able to adapt to changing standards and use technology to their advantage are better able to attract clients, maintain positive client relationships, and turn those relationships into referrals.