Niche research: What Makes the Best Law Firm Websites in the World
Recently, my boss has challenged our team to create an ideal template for a law firm website. The template should include maximum elements, pages and blocks that any law firm or single attorney might need. Besides, it should perfectly convert visitors into leads.
To make this challenge more attractive, he promised us 3 days of vacation at the seaside once the work was completed. Clearly, the offer was too tempting to reject, so we decided to put off all pending tasks and get down to the challenge.
We started from a thorough analysis. As part of it, we reviewed research and browsed through thousands of law firm websites attending to each detail, including structure, calls-to-action, content, images, contact forms, and many other critical elements. All the results were accumulated in a report.
In this article, I’d like to share our key findings demonstrating the most striking features of law firm websites in different regions. Based on that, I’ll also present our vision of a perfect site. I’m sure that a law firm or single attorney from any region will find something useful to make their own websites more attractive, user-friendly and robust.
Key Features of Law Firm Websites in the World
North America (rich with content, indifferent to design)
Overview. North America is the most developed region with the largest number of law firms among all English-speaking countries. Due to its location and language situation, most law firms go for bilingual websites either in Spanish (the southern part of the US) or French (Canada).
Content. North American lawyers are really verbose when it comes to their areas of expertise. Legal practices tend to be broken into areas, each having a detailed description with reference to experts specializing in it. Moreover, North American lawyers often end up filling their websites with long passages in legal English.
Calls-to-Action. The lawyers are good at utilizing various calls-to actions (CTAs), including “Request an appointment/consultation”, “Call Us”, “Explore the Team”, “Contact Us”, “Let’s Talk”, etc.
Blogs. American law firms extensively use blogs to share news, announcements, case studies, press releases, legal alerts, etc. Blogs help to keep visitors always in the loop on what is going on in the firm.
Trust elements. North Americans are good at utilizing trust elements to prove their credibility and build trust among clients. As such, “About Us” page usually contains testimonials and reviews as well as awards and other forms of recognition. Many firms add them to home pages as well.
Contacts. Lawyers in this region tend to provide as many contact options as possible, including basic contact forms, appointment requests, live chats, emails, maps, as well as conventional telephone and fax numbers.
South America (creative contact options)
Overview. South America is a multicultural region, and websites reflect that. Thus, law firms usually provide several versions of their sites in English, Spanish or Portuguese (Brazilian).
Content. South Americans are more concise than their Northern neighbors. Most law firms briefly describe their history, philosophy without dwelling on details. Another important aspect is the ubiquitous use of lists with bullet points. Altogether, this makes the content more readable whilst avoiding the unnecessary cramming of text into the webpage.
Calls-to-Action. CTAs in this region are rather few, usually boiling down to consultation requests, basic contacts and rare pop-up forms.
Blogs are not as popular as in North America. Even the firms employing them are pretty laconic in what they share with the public.
Trust elements. Similar to North America, lawyers in the Southern region tend to pay much attention to awards and recognitions.
Contacts. South America went further than the rest of the world by complementing their contact options with messenger apps, namely WhatsApp, to get in touch with visitors. Having more than 900 million active users, WhatsApp remains one of the most popular communication channel in the world, thereby a good option to communicate with clients.
Overview. Europe remains in the forefront of website design in legal sphere, often mirroring the recent trends. Regional websites often have two versions: in an official language and in English.
Content. European lawyers prefer succinct descriptions of companies’ history and values. Practice areas are frequently outlined in short with the possibility to expand text to learn more.
Calls-to-Action. Apart from typical requests for consultation and “Contact Us” buttons, European law firms often allow visitors to search for professionals and book a private consultation online.
Blogs. Europe falls behind North America in terms of blogs. Even those who launch them don’t post very frequently.
Contacts. Contact options are pretty usual, including phone and fax numbers, email addresses, maps, and contact forms.
Middle East (good use of trust elements)
Overview. Websites in the region cannot boast cutting-edge design. Most of them are pretty simple and have an Arabic and English version. One of the hallmarks of Middle Eastern law firms is the ubiquitous use of lawyers’ photos throughout the site.
Content. Apart from photos, information about lawyers is rather limited, while the focus is shifted to general words about the company on the whole.
Calls-to-Action. Similar to European law firms, Middle Eastern ones allow searching for experts, according to their areas of expertise. Moreover, some websites enable visitors to submit a direct enquiry or request a call back.
Blogs are very rare in the region.
Trust elements. Middle eastern lawyers tend to post testimonials right on the homepage, often in the form of sliders. Apart from that, they don’t forget about awards and other trust elements strengthening their credibility.
Contacts. Lawyers in this take a usual approach, providing a physical address with a map, as well as phone and fax numbers, emails, and feedback forms.
Asia (focus on image, lack of conversion)
Overview. Asian law firm websites are more image-focused and don’t pay enough attention to converting visitors into prospects. Companies that have executive partners from English-speaking countries or work closely with European and American markets have bilingual websites. This is especially common in Japan and South Korea. In contrast, most law firms in China usually have a monolingual website in Chinese.
Content. Asian websites pay much much more attention to their philosophy, history, and values than any other region in the world. Another interesting feature is a timeline on a homepage used to share crucial news, events and updates.
Calls-to-Action. CTA buttons are few and far between. The only common options are “Contact Us” CTAs located in the page footer and buttons leading to “About Us” page.
Blogs. Writing a blog is a rare exception for Asian law firms. Those who do it are generally pretty concise in the content they post. However, they frequently post news and publications in mass media.
Trust elements. Asian lawyers are pretty modest when it comes to items of recognition. They usually limit themselves to awards on “About Us” page and testimonials in some rare cases.
Contacts. Contact options are rather limited. Asian law firms rarely provide emails, using contact forms instead. Apart from that, there’s usually a phone number, physical address and a map.
Australia (fusion of Asian and European features)
Overview. Overall, law firm websites in Australia highlight their ties with Asia and Europe. When it comes to design, Australian lawyers follow their European colleagues. Thus, law firm sites look pretty modern. Yet, Australians went even further: occasional law firm websites have complex navigation menus with several levels of dropdown lists.
Content. The texts on websites are pretty short outlining the most important information about the company and its experts. When it comes to a company’s history, Australian websites are closer to Asian ones. They also use timelines to indicate significant moments and events.
Calls-to-Action. Australians are good at providing user-friendly CTAs. In some websites, it is even possible to book a lawyer online.
Blogs are not popular. Even if a law firm decides to launch one, posts will be rare and short.
Trust elements. Most of Australians rest satisfied with award logos on “About Us” page and a couple of testimonials on the homepage.
Contacts. Apart from conventional contacts, lawyers often include a live chat enabling users to receive answers to their questions in real time. Moreover, many websites place personal emails of lawyers instead of a corporate one.
Eastern Europe (plethora of CTAs and contact options)
Overview. Due to history and regional peculiarities, law firm websites in Eastern Europe often have 2 to 3 versions in regional languages and English. Besides, they are pretty different from websites in other regions.
Content. In this context, websites are similar to European and Australian examples, posting short and structural texts that may be accompanied by icons and illustrations. However, the content posted is usually more informal.
Calls-to-Action. First and foremost, they have more direct CTAs starting from “Request a callback” to appealing “Order a free consultation” and “Order a Service”.
Blogs are pretty rare in the region. Similar to Australia, law firms don’t post much or often.
Trust elements. One of the biggest drawbacks of websites in the region is the insufficient use of trust elements throughout the site. Most law firms add only awards, which in any case fail to draw much attention.
Contacts. Another distinctive feature is the variety of contact options, which may include live chats, feedback forms, callback as well as personal emails of lawyers, phone and fax numbers, etc.
What Makes a Perfect Law Firm Website
The key findings of our analysis revealed both advantages and drawbacks of law firm websites in different regions. By this time, we had already spent loads of time on our research. Yet, it was only the beginning.
The most significant part of our work was ahead — gathering all the findings and drawing conclusions. And to craft a perfect template for a law firm website, we needed a lot of those.
Eventually, we outlined the recommendations helping law firms to build an outstanding online presence:
Most law firm websites around the world use generic stock images of architecture, cities, nature, offices or people. Try to be a little more creative and use your original photos. Don’t be afraid to add a personal touch. It is valued by people.
Although most law firms around the world agree that a navigation menu should consist of 5–7 elements, use of a search tab is not that common.
Nevertheless, if you want to simplify your visitors’ interaction with the website, especially if you publish a lot of content, include it like many successful firms in Middle East and Asia do.
Don’t neglect CTAs if you want to convert your visitors into clients. Use the best practices from Australia and the Eastern Europe. Employ CTAs that contribute to a quality customer journey.
“Order a consulation”, “Request a callback” or “Book a lawyer online” — all these will be more effective than a boring “Contact Us” button.
According to Entrepreneur, almost 75% of small-business websites don’t list an email on their homepage, whereas 60% don’t have a phone number.
It’s 2017 out there, so your visitors would like to reach you wherever they are. To make it more convenient, use Latin American experience and offer a possibility to get in touch with you via messenger apps, such as WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat etc.
Moreover, make contact information available throughout the site, especially on the homepage. Some people may visit your site just in search of your contacts, and they don’t want to rummage through your endless webpages to find the desired phone number, address or email.
According to the research, 85% of visitors use online maps to find legal service locations. Moreover, ilawyermarketing suggests that 75% of people wouldn’t travel more than 30 miles to a lawyer’s office.
Thus, clearly indicate your office location and better pin it right on the map.
Finally, if you want your visitors to feel surrounded by care, you may add a live chat (a popular element in North America, Australia and the CIS). This way visitors will be able receive prompt answers to their questions.
European and Australian lawyers are good at keeping the information about the company short and relevant, avoiding wordiness. Be like them!
Moreover, try to write in lay terms and avoid legalese because you aren’t addressing professional lawyers but ordinary people who might not know your verbis legal.
- Testimonials, awards, case studies
According to ilawyermarketing, while choosing an attorney or law firm, 15% of website visitors pay attention to awards and honors. About 66% of website visitors prefer to look through the results of past cases.
Nevertheless, many law firms seem to underestimate the power of trust elements. To gain trust of website visitors, follow the practice of North American law firms that fill their pages with testimonials, case studies, awards and other forms of recognition. Seeing it, site visitors will unconsciously trust you more.
Another powerful tool in building up your credibility is to add press and media coverage of your law firm, as they do in Asia. Besides, external linking is good for your SEO.
According to b.Legal Marketing, visitors spend less than 20% of their time on practice area pages as compared to a lawyer’s bio.
Thus, a page clearly indicating your lawyers’ expertise and professional achievements is a must on every website.
Many law firms around the world simply call it “People”. The title fails to imply your team’s professionalism, so you’d better use “Experts” instead. This option highlights the quality of services your lawyers provide and better conveys respect for lawyers.
Be sure to outline lawyers’ experience, practice areas, professional awards and successful case studies to reinforce trust of your visitors. Besides, a good idea is to add their personal contact information like law firms in Australia do.
According to the research, blogs are effectively employed only by North American law firms.
However, law firms around the world still underestimate their value.
Posting valuable outlooks and news on the site is a great way to prove your expertise. Moreover, it can greatly enhance your SEO.
After processing all the information, we felt that we were finally ready to start designing our perfect template. I have to admit it wasn’t easy. Just imagine implementing the best practices from the entire world into one website. Anyway, several sleepless nights away, and we were approaching the finish line.
As for the returns, I must admit it was totally worth the candle. It seemed that our boss hadn’t expected such an outcome. So here I am now — sipping mojito and finishing the article on the beach.
It may seem like a nice remuneration, but the best part for me was actually seeing the results of our efforts come to life. Nothing could be compared to the overwhelming feeling of pride for your own work.
If are a lawyer and want your professional website here and now, get it made by our experts for free. Having accumulated a good deal of niche expertise, we can reassure you that the site will be among the best in your industry.
Originally published at blog.weblium.com on August 30, 2017.