How a law firm’s website appears on mobile devices is as important—and arguably more important—than how the website looks on desktop computers. The share of website traffic going through mobile devices has grown substantially since the iPhone’s debut in 2007. In the United States, the share of traffic to websites (excluding tablets) topped 40.61 percent in the first quarter of 2019, trending upward from previous quarters.
With this in mind, one of our longest-tenured clients and we partnered to build the firm’s new website with a mobile-first mindset, and the results were award-winning.
Website usage on a smartphone isn’t like the usage on a desktop or laptop computer. Screens are smaller, obviously, but there are other considerations, such as:
- typing into search boxes can be troublesome (except for our teenaged children);
- small font sizes bring issues of readability; and
- with the experience of smartphone apps, users are used to scrolling and tapping for what they want to do rather than entering text to get results.
The definition of ‘mobile friendly’ has changed as well. It’s not only a responsive or adaptive website, which have been in use for years now. It means a website that is thoughtfully planned for the mobile user, taking into account what your specific users will be doing with a mobile device. Will they be just looking for the firm’s telephone number? Or forwarding your biography to a colleague? How about directions to your office with the phone in one hand and the steering wheel in another?
Our client, Cohen Seglias, thought about these things when it came time for the revision their website. Over the past 30 years, Cohen Seglias has grown from a three-attorney construction-focused law firm to a firm with more than 60 attorneys across nine offices offering a wide range of legal services. Their clients operate in the United States and internationally and in a variety of industries.
To start, the firm viewed the website’s traffic analytics and found an increasing share of clients’ and prospects’ use of the website was coming from mobile. In this latest website iteration, Cohen Seglias requested a mobile-first approach in the project’s production flow.
In the project’s discovery phase, the firm reported that existing clients had mentioned some difficulty in finding information quickly on the mobile version of the then-existing site. The clients said there was too much scrolling, it was visually overwhelming, with too much text and no clear calls to action to prompt the viewer to take the next step (such as contacting the firm).
“We understood that people use their phones and tablets to look up information on the go and our goal was to provide a smooth and seamless experience,” said Marketing Director Kerstin Isaacs.
The firm’s interests in having an outstanding mobile presence went deeper, however. In an increasingly competitive legal-services market, it was important for the firm’s modern technology focus to be reflected in both the desktop and mobile versions of the site. A thoughtful approach to mobile viewing, therefore, would help achieve this.
Convincing the lawyers that a great mobile experience wasn’t difficult, given the firm’s marketing strategy. “[B]ut as always we had to convince the attorneys to cut down the content on the bio and capability pages,” Isaacs said.
After the discovery phase of the project, the LISI team started with determining the firm’s target personas for the website and then crafted a journey each would take in using the mobile view. The firm and LISI ranked in priority the types of users based on the firm’s marketing goals.
This created some debate over what information should appear in the first screen view and the menu items. Naturally, quick links to attorney profiles, capabilities, and contact information should be in easy reach. But as the firm has an active client-event calendar, they requested a link to upcoming events be a major focus as well. “Our attorneys are very active speaking at seminars and webinars and we wanted to highlight those activities and make it easy to find registration information,” Isaacs said.
Content architecture and user experience was one of the biggest challenges. The firm has about 20 practice areas, many with unique sub-practices, more than 60 attorneys with different related specialties, news, events and speaking engagements, three different blogs, nine locations, and a very active events page. Understanding the way all of this related was crucial to designing an optimal user experience.
“We designed this with the intention that once the user satisfied their primary search they would be led to other relevant pieces of content/key areas, said Bryan Ayala, Creative Director at LISI. “This ensures users find the info they need and naturally progress to other relevant topics without hitting any dead ends or feeling like they have to go back to the main menu to continue browsing.”
This led us to plan a main-menu arrangement that condensed information into six main categories (About Us, Capabilities, Our People, News and Events, Locations, and Client Portal) on both the desktop and mobile views of the website.
Where appropriate, the menu item expands to show the subcategories so that even a casual viewer can determine if the firm has the services the viewer needs. But the expanding-menu system also allows a user to easily navigate to any other part of the site.
With the site outline of pages established, next came attention to the design—both organizational and aesthetic—of the pages. Each page was optimized to help the users find the information they sought regardless of device type. We did this through:
- Content hierarchy: Defining the importance of each element on the page and visually positioning them in a way that guides the user through the content in a particular order.
- A focus on ‘scannability’: Using reading patters, color, font weights, etc., to help users skim the content quickly and find what they’re looking for.
- Removing unnecessary elements: Taking out items that are nice to have in the desktop view, but not needed in the mobile view.
An example of the last point was how we designed the capabilities landing page. On desktop we used photography to help illustrate the firm’s practices, while on mobile we removed the photos. This brought the benefits of speeding up page load times and reducing scrolling.
The visual design of the site had to support a slight branding change that referred to the Cohen Seglias’s past colors but updated it to further the marketing goal of a wide practice area offering beyond construction. The firm developed a new tagline, “Building Success,” and we supported it with imagery that represented teamwork—of the lawyers with each other and of the firm with their valued clients.
We built on the existing color palette to preserve the familiarity of the brand with existing clients and added new and brighter accent colors that expressed freshness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, intellect, loyalty, and joy. We extended the new branding to designing other components like new business cards and social media, with new PowerPoint templates getting a revision in the near future. Visual continuity is crucial when establishing credibility with a new prospect and retaining existing clients.
With the design approved for each page, our production team took over, coding the design into a working website. Mobile site performance influenced this step, too. Since having a fast-loading mobile view is a factor in Google’s ranking of a website, we coded the mobile view with efficient code and without unnecessary graphics.
After the build, the firm and LISI went through a rigorous quality assurance testing round that had the entire team looking at the site on many sizes of devices, accessing it from office and cellular networks. The adjustments brought the site to a nearly flawless point where it was ready for launch.
“We have received great feedback on the new site from clients and contacts, in particular on the bio pages and attorney photography,” Isaacs said. (Photos of the attorneys and other team members were done by the always-great Gittings).
Of course, we, at LISI, think the site—on both desktop and mobile—is great. After all, we designed and built it. But it appears that others do as well. In December 2018, the site was awarded Best Legal Mobile Website by the Web Marketing Association. While it is fulfilling to be recognized with an award, our greatest satisfaction comes from a happy client!
So, what does this mean for your law firm’s website? If it’s not mobile friendly, there’s a significant chance of frustrated website visitors and the potential for lost business. Some quick tips for making your firm’s mobile site better:
- Before you design, plan: See how users are viewing your website and ask clients what they want out of a mobile experience. Draw up personas of possible users and the path you want them to take on the site.
- Focus on the essentials: Make decisions—hard ones, if necessary—about what are the absolutely can’t-live-without items for your mobile navigation. Pare down your list to reduce a user’s scrolling.
- Think about mobile technology: The mobile experience requires interaction that the desktop experience does not. Phone numbers should be set up for tap-to-dial and lists of lawyers shouldn’t be broken up into many separate pages. Fast loading times are key to good rankings in the search engines, so mobile pages can dispense with not-necessary photos or moving background videos.
- Don’t stop at launch: Monitor your website’s traffic reports to see how mobile usage continues throughout the site’s life. If you see a marked change that concerns you, consider making alterations to the site to achieve your marketing goals.
In the end, hopefully, you’ll have a great website no matter on what type of device the site is viewed.