You’ve finally done it:
You bit the bullet and started your solo law practice.
You even paid someone to create a fancy website that is sure to dazzle your prospective clients (or did it yourself).
You could be killing your site’s potential with just a few simple mistakes. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the most common mistakes that lawyers make with their websites, which could be killing the client experience!
First, let’s take a look at what you should be doing:
Your law firm site’s 2 priorities: Simplicity and Speed
When lawyers rate each others’ websites (you’ve probably seen the “best of” lists), they’re usually not taking real world client needs into account.
They’re rating the “bells and whistles.”
Too often, we get dazzled by images sliding by and fading in and out, cool-looking widgets, and other fancy stuff.
However, these often take away from the potential client’s user experience. Let’s look at things from the client/user perspective.
They search for something on Google and click the link that looks like it can help with their problem. More and more often, these searches are being done on a smartphone.
When they get to your site, they’re looking for one thing: the answer to their question.
This could be the solution to their legal issue or the name and contact info of a lawyer that can help them out.
If they get to a page with huge images that are fading in and out, has things popping up asking if you can help them, or other nonsense like that, it actually hinders their experience.
Or maybe the site is just loading extremely slow.
They may just click the back button and choose another site.
To help them along, the page they reach should meet two main qualifications:
- It should be FAST
- It should be SIMPLE
Not to mention that a poor user experience or slow loading times actually make Google hate your site too!
If a user doesn’t stick around on the page for very long or if it takes too long to load, this is a signal to Google that your site isn’t one that users want to see. It then drops you in the rankings, meaning that less people (potential clients) visit your site!
So, with any decision you make on your site, those 2 maxims above should be the first thing on your mind: fast and simple.
With that in mind, here are the most common things that are making your site worse and potentially turning away business.
5 things you’re doing that are KILLING your site
#1 – You’re going cheap on web hosting
Choosing low quality and low cost web hosting is probably the biggest issue that can affect your site’s speed.
Quality website hosting can overcome a lot of the issues we discussed here that are slowing your site down. On the other hand, cheap hosting really only exacerbates existing problems and causes a terrible, slow user experience.
If you were on the Internet in the early days of dial-up modems, you know the pain of waiting forever for a site to load. With modern Internet, having to wait for anything is unthinkable.
So if I click a Google result, and it takes more than a few seconds to load that content, I’m going to take my business elsewhere.
I’ve built over a dozen websites using several different hosts.
Real talk: most of them are awful.
They purchase a certain amount of space from Amazon Web Services and share your hosting with a number of other sites. This results in slow loading of your website assets and unhappy clients.
On the other hand, a web host with dedicated servers for your site can really speed things up and making the user experience very slick.
Some of the better hosting companies for a nice, fast website include Siteground and WPEngine (the one I use, which is specifically for dedicated WordPress site hosting). (affiliate links to support the site)
Additionally, the support on the dedicated hosting companies is unbelievably helpful compared to the cheaper ones. You can start a chat with an actual administrator who can make changes to your site in real time and give you the help you need.
No need to wait hours and days for multiple layers of customer service to finally get your problem solved (as is the case with so many of the cheaper hosts I’ve used).
And the more expensive ones aren’t really that expensive. As I said, I use WPEngine, who offers a single-site plan for $35 a month. Considering how much we can potentially make from clients that find us online (and stick around for our site to load), I think that’s a small price to pay.
Want to know more? Check out my ultimate guide on web hosting for law firms here!
# 2 – You’ve got sliders, headers, and other fancy nonsense
If you’ve been around the Internet, you’ve probably seen those rotating image sliders (sometimes called “carousels”) right at the top of a ton of websites.
- They hog a ton of resources
- They load extra code onto your site that can bog things down and slow loading times
- They keep your actual content (the stuff that converts clients) BELOW the fold and away from view
- They look awful on mobile phones
Attention spans are razor thin.
The longer it takes for a potential client to get to the info they’re looking for, the more of a chance you have to lose them forever. Remember, that back button is right there and a user doesn’t hesitate to use it!
This is why anything that slows your site down or hides your content should be eliminated. Since these sliders or carousels do both, they should be one of the first things that you get rid of on your site.
Worried that your clever tagline or fancy animation is going to be gone?
Don’t worry, no one cares. Seriously.
#3 – You’ve got too many things in your site’s menu
Does this sound familiar?
In an attempt to cover a wide range of clients, you’ve decided that your solo firm will have several practice areas.
I’ve seen up to 2 dozen in some cases!
You probably think, “Surely this will get you more clients.”
Actually, it has the opposite effect.
Having too many practice areas on your website confuses clients, dilutes your authority in any particular area, and is generally bad web design.
Imagine clicking on a menu that says Practice Areas, and being greeted by a huge list of sub-menu items.
This goes against our two rules:
- It isn’t fast, as the client needs to read through a giant list and figure out which of your practice areas matches their actual problem, and
- It’s the opposite of simple.
Niche down and concentrate on a client-centered approach. Practice areas like “Contract Law” are almost completely meaningless to a client who is looking for help with their specific type of business or problem, rather than a lawyer who “drafts contracts.”
Think about things from the client’s perspective. Research their specific needs and tailor the language on your site to that.
Then, you can streamline your menu items accordingly. This will help you keep that prospective client before they click the back button and choose your competitor.
#4 – You’re not using a “responsive” design
“Responsive design” means that your website performs well on mobile devices by responding and reformatting automatically when a user visits it from their smartphone.
Examples of responsiveness on a site include:
- The text reflows to a single column for easy reading, rather than needing to scroll around to read everything.
- The images on your site are resized to fit the narrow window (or different images entirely show up), and
- The site’s menus are presented in a different way to help the user experience (usually by tapping an icon which brings up the menu).
If you’ve ever encountered a site on your smartphone that isn’t responsive, you probably closed it instantly in frustration. Having to click menu items or zoom out to read text that is wider than your screen is a user interface nightmare.
Responsiveness is all the rage these days, and for good reason! Not only is it better for the user, being responsive can also help your rankings on Google.
That’s because Google sees being “mobile friendly” as a huge factor in user satisfaction. It’s actually used as an important ranking factor that pushes you higher in the search results.
Due to the increasing number of Internet users accessing sites from their handheld devices, Google wants to be sure that every site looks and functions well on a phone.
You can read more about this and check to see if your site is mobile friendly here.
If you use WordPress, many themes are responsive right out of the box. But it’s something you should double check with your theme author and through the link above. You should also be making sure that it looks and feels great on both desktop and mobile.
Now, let’s talk images:
#5 – You’re not properly resizing and compressing your images
When you find images to use on your blog and website, they’re often downloaded as high resolution files.
For instance, if I look for a royalty-free stock photo on Unsplash.com for my latest blog post, it could be thousands of pixels in resolution and multiple megabytes in size.
If I just stuck that into my blog post, it would be a usability nightmare.
This is because a huge image like that loads very slowly and hogs resources.
Some WordPress themes will resize your images automatically, but that doesn’t actually compress them properly and they could still be way too big.
Generally, you want to keep your images to under 100kb, if possible. That way, the page loads fast and smooth (if your hosting is good).
Remember, the longer your site takes to load, the more likely it is that a user will click off your site. And when users click off your site without reading it, that signals to Google that your site isn’t worth clicking.
And that makes your rankings go down.
Bad news all around!
So resize those images to the proper pixel dimensions and with a manageable image size. Here’s how:
- Do it on your own by using a tool like Photoshop, or a free online tool like Pixlr Express or jpg-optimizer.
- Install a WordPress plugin like ShortPixel to automatically resize and optimize images on your site. (affiliate link)
Once your images are properly optimized and you’ve gotten rid of all the fancy stuff bogging your site down, you should be good to go.
Wrap-up – fixing these mistakes and more
Hopefully you’ve learned some of the big mistakes that you’re making with your law firm’s site.
If you avoid these things, you’ll have a much better user experience and keep those clients on your site and filling out your contact form to hire you.
If you’re looking for more info on building your law firm’s site and online authority, and want step-by-step plans for doing so, check out the other articles on this site!