Three Things to Know about Your Law Firm’s Website Visitors

Here’s one thing you can safely assume about your website visitors: They arrive with a specific purpose in mind. Few people surf lawyer’s websites for fun and relaxation.

Given that, it pays to know a little about those people who visit your firm’s site. What features will create the all-important good first impression? What will cause them to jump to another lawyer’s website? What will motivate them to contact you? Here are three key things to consider.

1. They don’t want too many choices

“Unlimited options” nearly always sounds great in theory, but it usually doesn’t work in practice. Numerous psychological studies have demonstrated that having too many choices — or information overload, as it’s often termed — makes it harder for people to make decisions.

How does this relate to your law firm’s website? For starters, your calls to action — phone numbers, email addresses, contact forms — should be prominent and easy to find. Organizational structure is another area to consider. If your firm has multiple practice areas, each should have its own page — or maybe even its own site, if you really want to pursue a specific niche.

Design also factors into the equation. User-friendly websites are typically clean and uncluttered, with plenty of white space. Filling every available pixel with images and text is a reliable way to create information overload.

Want further evidence? Think about Amazon.com. The company’s seemingly limitless lineup of products could easily overwhelm its visitors. But the design is clean. Contact information is easy to find. And the navigation structure is simple and intuitive.

2. They care about how you look

Do a random review of some other attorney websites. Find any similarities? Chances are good that at least some feature photos of lawyers with serious, even somber looks on their faces. On one hand, that’s easy to understand. Lawyers need to look professional and dignified, right? But think about it again — this time from a perspective of a prospective client. What if he or she is on the edge of filing for divorce or bankruptcy? Will your stern gaze offer the support they’re looking for? Probably not.

On the flip side, a friendly, reassuring photo can help you quickly build an unconscious bond of trust with a prospect, well before you meet in person.

3. Less than half of them are using computers

You can’t ignore it: Desktop and laptop computer sales and usage have both nosedived over the last few years. According to the Pew Internet American Life Project, 55 percent of American adults now have smartphones and 42 percent own tablets. And no less of an authority than Google notes that half of all Web searches are already conducted with mobile devices.

What are the implications for the average law firm? It’s simple: Websites not designed for mobile device usage are cluttered and difficult to use on a smartphone or tablet. Impatient Web surfers have plenty of law firms to choose from. No, you can’t ignore the millions of Americans who still use computers. But you also can’t ignore the ever-growing ranks of people who only use mobile devices. In short, a mobile-friendly or responsively designed website is no longer an optional luxury when it comes to online marketing.

Want to learn more about the psychology of the legal consumer? Read the FindLaw white paper, Why Most Law Firm Websites are Designed to Fail: Logic, Emotion and Today’s Legal Consumer.

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