Your digital customer experience – 6 critical factors
As a law firm, creating an exceptional online experience is a fantastic way to differentiate yourself from other firms in your industry offering similar services.
Interestingly, many firms simply don’t pay any attention to this. Their webpages and social media posts are like old-style brochures dropped into a digital world. And they don't take full advantage of modern digital tools.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Your internet presence can be so much more than a mere digital shopfront. With the right ideas, you can delight your audience and make them hungry to choose you over others.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Make your website mobile-ready
How many law firms have websites that users can Comfortably, easily and effectively access the information they need and/or interact with the firm.
The answer, incredibly, is “not many” or at the least, “not as many as there should be”.
But think about what a wasted opportunity that is.
Data suggests that mobile devices account more than 40% of online interactions. It also indicates that a staggering 52% of global website traffic comes from mobile phones.
Today’s customers expect to get a fully-fledged service on all their portable devices - even when ordering services from law firms. Thus, small changes in your mobile functionality can create huge benefits in user experience between you and your rivals.
2. Make your website simple
Lawyers are naturally wordy people by nature. After all, language is an integral part of their craft.
But if you run a law firm, you should save the legalese for the courtroom. The goal of a website should be simplicity and plain English.
What does that mean in practice?
- Basic colours: The general advice here is to use a maximum of two to five colours on your website palate. That seems to be the sweet spot. Any more than that and you end up creating visual confusion.
- Legible typefaces: While law firms might be associated with ink quills, avoid using swirly fonts if you can. Stick with those that are more legible.
- Graphics: Graphics are very helpful for many people and can tell their own story but keep in mind the need to keep ‘visual clutter’ to a minimum.
3. Make your pages and your content consistent
Let’s say that you offer pages for family law, criminal law, drink driving, personal injury, medical malpractice and so on. Ideally, you want the experience of each to feel the same, no matter which your user/visitor clicks on. That includes the layout, the language, the style, the imagery etc.
That’s not to say that the page layout has to be identical. But the aesthetic elements should be consistent.
Doing this provides two benefits:
- It makes it easier for visitors to know where to look on each page as they browse through your site; and
- It allows you to remain more committed to your brand.
4. Respond to online enquiries and comments
Data from Microsoft shows that 63% of millennials begin their customer service interactions online. The old days of simply presenting your pages as a digital shopfront are long gone. You need tools to facilitate proper interactions with your customers. It’s also worth noting that millennials were born between 1981 and 1996 (so aged 24-39 in 2020); many of these are your sweet spot for potential client acquisition.
We already see law firms being more ‘interactive’ on LinkedIn and Facebook. Native chat features make it easy to go back and forth with clients. But of course, there are similar tools for websites too, with chatbots. Chatbots are not for everyone though. You can learn more about their suitability for you and your law firm in our blog ‘Pros and cons of chatbots for your law firm’.
Mostly, law firms get bots to answer basic FAQs before funnelling visitors to the ‘contact page’. But you can use advanced versions to answer more general questions or provide quick tips.
If you have a ‘comments board’ on your site (usually under your blog posts), you can also use this to provide answers to users' questions. Clients who use ‘comments’ on blogs will expect an immediate response; or near immediate. You can set up your comments section to send automated general email responses to customers and also an email alert to the firm so a more detailed response can be provided.
5. Increase the responsiveness of your pages
At some point time in 2021, Google will launch its new “page experience” algorithm. The goal is to serve up search results that are both relevant to users’ queries and create “delight.” It’s a little way off but worth being aware of and Google has advised they will give at least six months’ notice of the release.
Google wants websites to respond to user inputs in less than 100ms (or a tenth of a second). Currently, though, many sites are failing to make the cut.
It’s a big problem - and not just because of the SEO penalty. HubSpot found that 93% of people leave sites because they don't load properly on their device.
Now’s the time to talk with your website developer about getting ready for the new Google page experience algorithm.
6. Give your pages conventionality
Blending originality with conventionality is one of the biggest challenges of web design.
It’s not always the best choice to go with the latest look, theme or gadgets on your site. Site performance should be your first priority, following by visual appeal. You can read more about this in our blog ‘Is your website form over function? A few things to remember when building your website’.
You want your law firm to have pages that stand out. But you also need to fulfil some of your user’s basic expectations. If you don’t, you risk losing them to your competitor’s site.
So, what counts as conventional and non-negotiable? Check out the following which is just a sample of what’s non-negotiable:
- Putting the main navigation at the top: Users expect this, so try to avoid “experimental” navigation designs.
- Image slider buttons: Users expect to be able to choose which images they view in your rotating banners and galleries. If you have text overlay on those images, ensure the user has sufficient time to read the text before the image changes.
- Link buttons that change colour when users hover over them and click them: Additions like this help to make your website feel more tactile and usable. The alternative is to have your hyperlinked content a different colour at all times.
- A clickable logo that links to the homepage: Users know that if they get lost in your sub-pages, they can click this to get back to the home page.
These guidelines should serve you well in your quest to deliver a quality website experience to your visitors. Delivering a quality website experience substantially increases the potential that your site visitors will ‘click-to-call’ or ‘click-to-email’ and you’re secure their work.
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