Web design is constantly evolving, but some things never change. Relevant, timely, and engaging content will always be crucial. However, the elements that can boost your website’s performance continually change and marketers need to adapt. To help you choose areas to focus on, we’ve compiled a list of the most important pieces of modern law firm website design.
1. Custom Typography
The developments in graphic design mean people have a plethora of fonts to choose from when working on web content. Typography is a singular element that adds a lot to your brand presence; ideally, visitors recognize your brand by the look and feel of content – including text. When choosing a font, make sure to consider its availability across mediums like print, social media, etc. It also should render well on any device or in any operating system.
2. Responsive Hero Images
Whereas designers used to have to worry only about “above and below the fold”, today’s website visitors are more used to a singular point of view. By creating an engaging image with text, viewers are drawn into a strong visual experience that encourages scrolling down to read more. Many people are utilizing a hero image in the background with text overlaid on top. In general, large images can be a powerful way of telling your story without relying on copy alone.
3. Automatic Videos
Videos that start to play automatically (in the background) can add a lot of intrigue. Since video is such a powerful medium, it can be used to relay information that would otherwise require a lot of content. Plus, our brains process video faster than other channels. Visitors are most likely to watch video content if they opt in; that is, if there is a way for them to push “play” to see more, rather than have the video run with no way to shut it off. Remember, the goal is to make it easier for people to absorb information – not to annoy them with it.
4. Semi-flat Design
Flat design refers to elements that don’t include or offer the perception of being three dimensional (like shadows). This is easier for visitors’ brains to comprehend, and faster. Just as important, it allows page elements to load faster which makes a better user experience. Many organizations are switching from more realistic renderings to flat design. Some companies don’t go entirely flat, instead adding some subtle shadowing or other illustrative elements (hence the word “semi-flat”). In this way, graphics can have a sense of depth without becoming too complex and difficult to load. This helps viewers digest the content more quickly. One note: be consistent throughout your website. Everything will look cleaner and more streamlined if you use the same style throughout; don’t just introduce semi-flat on a couple pages if everything else is 3-dimensional.
5. Hidden Menus
A lot of websites have long menus with several options to choose from. Users may appreciate being able to find what they want, but they can take up valuable screen space and disrupt the user experience when the full menu appears. This is why you’re likely to see more hidden (sometimes called condensed or “hamburger” menus) in the future. They’re often called hamburger menus because the visual of the stacked items brings to mind two burger buns and a patty. These menus save a lot of space and are also intuitive for navigating. Removing distractions (like more menu items) makes the experience cleaner and faster. Consider sorting your categories into such a menu instead of a lengthy list of options spread across the header of your site. You can even test it and base your future navigation on the results.
6. Better Quality Images
As a law firm, you may not have many products to sell. However, some firms do sell things like books or special reports, templates, or other helpful items. Some even sell branded merchandise. In these cases, it’s important to highlight the items with high-quality images. You’ll see many organizations highlighting different features or parts of their products in a more effective way. This is important for reinforcing the features and benefits of your offerings. Larger images are easier to see and are also scan-friendly. If you do sell any products, consider adding more robust imagery to the product pages.
7. Individual Card Design
As sites like Pinterest have grown in popularity, so has the interest around “cards”. Individual cards help relay information in a more visual way so that visitors can consume smaller amounts of information. By breaking up smaller pieces of information into cards, visitors can pick and choose which content they want to read. For example, cards are a really effective way to sort thought leadership. If you have a resource center, consider organizing the articles with cards. This way viewers can get a feel for what the article is about by browsing quickly. Plus, everything looks really clean and organized. Note: if you go this route, make sure cards are responsive. That means as a screen gets larger or smaller, they should adjust accordingly.
8. Short Feature Videos
In addition to the background videos we mentioned above, short feature videos are on trend and becoming more prominent. These are a really impactful way to bring your services to life without overwhelming visitors with information. Law firms can really benefit from videos that explain their offerings to influence the client journey.
9. Mobile-friendly Design
This isn’t really a new trend, but one that continues to grow in importance. Mobile traffic now accounts for more than half of overall web traffic. Mobile is often where people begin their search for information, so if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you could be losing up to half of all prospective clients! Text, images, buttons, and other elements should all resize based on what device someone is viewing your site on. If people have to spend time clicking around or can’t get things to render properly, they’re likely to move onto the next site.
10. White Space
Often considered part of minimalist design, use of white space is becoming more common. It’s now considered a main feature of modern website design. By balancing content with white space, you can naturally guide viewers to certain items. There’s no set rule about how much white space to use, but a good rule of thumb is to create at least some amount between every content element.
11. Speed Optimization
No matter how great your content is, it won’t help potential clients to convert if it takes too long to load. This means it’s critical to optimize all components of your website for speed to reduce the time between clicking and getting to content. For example, it’s essential to optimize all images in order to balance graphic quality with file size. Similarly, it’s helpful to compress any files hosted on your site. There are a lot of tools out there that can support those efforts. Read our past post for several best practices for optimizing your site for speed.
Website design is not a “set it and forget it” science. It’s important to periodically evaluate your website and make sure it includes compelling visuals, high-quality content, and a great user experience. The elements we just covered are a good start in modernizing your website and ensuring the best visitor experience. If you feel you’re a bit behind in optimizing your website, you may want to get a professional opinion. Our web design experts understand the legal market, and know how to turn your website into a lead generating tool. From website design and development to content writing, search engine optimization (SEO) and site maintenance, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today for a free consultation to get started.