One of the more well-documented design trends of this year is a move toward more simple website layouts. Designers are removing clutter, utilizing larger elements, paring down navigation to the essentials and creating user experiences that are less busy and more intuitive. Simplicity is both visually appealing and increasingly necessary as firms strive to make content accessible to the widest audience on the greatest number of devices possible.
An aspect of simple design that is growing more popular among lawyers is the use of one dominant image, above the scroll, on attorney websites. This is a departure from the practice of throwing as much information at the visitor as possible, and it is rooted in the fact that people are better able to make decisions when faced with a limited number of choices. Firms are recognizing that while practice area information must be easily accessible, it does not have to occupy all of the most valuable real estate on a web page. Instead, employing a large image, simple headline and obvious call to action pushes visitors toward the desired response – contacting your firm – without the added confusion of too many options or too much text.
Attorneys are also recognizing the need for good, high-resolution images of their own attorneys and staff in natural interactions within the firm's office. In some cases, this is a necessity, as your state bar may forbid the use of stock photography that implies the actor may be an attorney. However, as is more often the case, much of the available stock photography is widely overused. Stock may be an option, but it is not always the best one. Custom photo shoots with a professional photographer allow your firm's personality to come through on your site. Quality images help create a connection with the user and, when coupled with a well-written headline, give visitors an immediate impression of why they should contact your firm.
SEO | Law Firm, for its part, was happy to introduce the Gavel Free Guarantee several years ago. The guarantee expresses the desire to avoid clichés and create marketing materials that are representative of a firm and the value it offers to its clients. While the gavel is perhaps the most ubiquitous law firm cliché, it is not the only one. Handshakes, puzzle pieces, people writing on white boards; these have all been done. When choosing images, think about what you see most often from competitors and try to choose another direction.
In addition to paring down text and placing more emphasis on large graphics and headlines, more firms are seeking to simplify their navigation. Simplicity in navigation allows visitors to find the information for which they are searching more quickly. Law firms often have a wealth of information to share, which is good for both building trust and enhancing search marketing efforts. However, there is a hierarchy to what items are most important, and content should be categorized accordingly. Limit the number of options in main navigation bars to the basics: things like bios, services, why hire and contact. Think through a logical flow of content when creating a sitemap and structure sub-menus accordingly. Giving people an unambiguous path to follow helps enhance the user experience and increase conversion.
Simplicity is becoming a necessity. People are more distracted and are accessing your site from a more diverse set of devices than ever. Giving everyone the best experience – from those who have time to sit down at their desk and research to those who are looking up your number on their smartphones – will help you reach the widest number of prospects. People appreciate simplicity. Attorneys are taking notice.