2022 Web Design Do’s and Don’ts
If there’s a single web design trend emerging for 2022, it’s sites that serve as entertainments in themselves rather than as portals for the businesses they serve.
That’s all well and good businesses in the creative industries, but it probably won’t work so well in the field of attorney website design.
People visiting law firm sites are looking primarily for reliable information and reassurance that you’re the right people to help them with the issue they’re facing.
Cartoon animations, puzzles, locked content, and other bells and whistles they can do without.
That said, there are certain principles of web design for lawyers of which you need to be aware if your site is going to deliver the maximum benefit for your current and prospective clients and your business.
- The Essential Elements of Law Firm Web Design in 2022
- Things to Avoid in Attorney Web Design
- Find Out More
The Essential Elements of Law Firm Web Design in 2022
The imaginative use of typography, fonts, textures, and suitable legal colors, combined with a simple and fast navigation structure, can go a long way towards creating a modern-looking and stylish site, which at the same time conveys a sense of reliability, competence, and professional values to today’s increasingly sophisticated visitors.
And adding some or all of the following specific elements will enhance the end result.
1. Emphasize Your Local Presence
Whether you’re a purely local firm or part of a statewide or even national network, it pays to show your business as an integral part of your local community.
Even such a simple step as displaying photos of your offices on “Main Street”, however apparently humdrum, can help give your business a real presence in the minds of your prospects.
You can add greatly to the effect by showing local beauty spots and landmarks, statues of noteworthy historical figures, and including a brief biography of your town.
And this approach works particularly well in humanizing and personalizing local businesses that might otherwise be seen just like branches of large and anonymous corporations.
2. Use Large, Bold, Easily Legible Fonts
In a sense, this is far from a new idea. It reflects one of the first principles of web design for lawyers – and in fact all web design – that sites should above all be easy for visitors to read, navigate, and understand.
And the use of over-elaborate, serif or cursive style fonts is, therefore, best avoided. But with this proviso, the use of unusually large typography is a definite trend for 2022.
Deploying large text over an image, perhaps with the use of contrasting colors, becomes an engaging graphic that provokes customer curiosity and can be used as an aid to navigation.
Combining large typography with a bold legal font is also a great way to get across and emphasize your core message, values, and services, as well as any other headlines you want to stress to your prospects.
Another trend is to put these kinds of large, bold, messages – which almost become images in themselves – in the so-called “hero section”, above the fold.
Not only does this hugely increase their visibility for the visitor, but it’s also a potential boost to your search engine rankings since Google is known to favor sites that place significant content in this area rather than requiring visitors to scroll for information.
3. Make Your Site Inclusive
In 2022, ensuring that their websites are accessible and navigable by people with disabilities should be a given for businesses of all kinds. And it’s a particularly important principle in the field of law firm website design.
Fortunately, today’s coding technology makes it very easy to enable access for people with visual, auditory, and other physical difficulties.
So use screen readers, alt-txt for images, and captions for videos as a minimum. And also make sure that your site is easily navigable by keyboard as well as mouse.
But beyond these relatively simple, though essential, technical fixes lies the whole question of inclusive content.
As a law firm, it should go without saying that your site will be compliant with all relevant disability and equality legislation, but in 2022 there’s a great deal more that you can and should be doing.
Be aware, for example, that some fonts and typefaces are much more accessible than others for people with issues such as dyslexia.
There are also a number of softwares now available that will ensure that your written content is easily comprehensible by people of all educational levels.
It’s also important that your site avoids gender-specific language where possible and uses a diverse range of ethnicities in its images.
And it’s worth taking some time to make sure that you don’t use any cultural or historical references that may be offensive or simply incomprehensible to some groups of people.
This isn’t a matter of taking a position in any so-called “culture wars”. It’s simply sound business sense in today’s world, and any quality law firm website designers will have guidelines they use to achieve the maximum inclusivity for your site.
4. Prioritize Your Page Load Speed
The speed at which a site and its pages load has always been an important factor in achieving high search engine rankings.
But Google’s latest 2021 update to its algorithm seems to have increased the weight it gives to this element of site performance. And this makes sense since its entire business model is based on rewarding those sites that best serve its users’ needs.
But even if SEO is not a significant concern for your firm, it’s only good business practice to make your site as visitor-friendly as possible.
And page load speed will always be vital in ensuring that you have the kind of responsive attorney website that will prevent your prospects from clicking away and heading towards your competitors.
5. Minimalist Design and Creative Use of Whitespace
In a world of rapid technological advances and information overload, the idea that “less is more” is one that’s gaining increasing traction in the world of web design for lawyers.
So a clear trend for 2022 is towards minimalist design and plenty of whitespace to create a calm, reassuring, mood. But bear in mind that “whitespace” doesn’t have to be literally white.
What the term really means is space deliberately left free of text and images to avoid an excess of content overwhelming visitors.
And whatever color is chosen, the appropriate use of blank space will allow visitors the quiet time and headspace they need to assess the information they’re being offered.
This is particularly important for sites in fields such as law and health, where visitors are searching for help and support during what may well be a highly stressful time in their lives.
Keeping your site simple is also a significant advantage when it comes to achieving good search engine rankings and reaching potential clients, as both Google and its users now expect that sites should be readily accessible from all manner of mobile devices.
6. Use Organic Shapes
While previous years have seen a trend among designers to use a variety of mathematically rigid geometric shapes, the mood in 2022 appears to be definitely towards more organic shapes.
The word organic might be somewhat confusing, But what it really means is a trend towards natural, irregular, shapes; and an avoidance of the straight lines that rarely occur in the natural world.
Organic shapes, based for example on the silhouettes of trees, bushes, and leaves, create a softer, warmer, and more welcoming feel to your site – an effect that can of course be greatly enhanced with the creative use of color.
7. Be Aware of Color Psychology
The idea that different colors are associated with different moods, emotions, and states of mind is nothing new. In fact, the principles of what we now call color psychology have been known to interior designers, advertisers, and other creatives for centuries.
But the application of these principles to web design is of course relatively recent, and internet marketers, in particular, continue to test the response rates achieved by the use of different colors in text, links, buttons, and other areas.
That said, there are already some well-established law firm color palettes that are particularly appropriate for use in custom web design for lawyers, and which use colors such as navy blue, gold, black, and white to convey trust, reliability, authority, and integrity.
8. Use Large “Hero” Sections
It’s now commonplace to suggest that the internet is dramatically reducing human attention spans.
And with the ever-increasing volume of online advertising to which we are all subject – a trend that’s only likely to accelerate in 2022 and beyond – it’s clear that websites have only a matter of seconds or less in which to engage the attention of their visitors.
The use of large, above-the-fold “hero” sections (see 2. above) on your Home or key internal pages is one way of addressing this problem.
The great advantage of the hero section is that it’s immediately visible to the visitor, without scrolling, and is therefore ideally suited to the display of your core headline message.
Traditionally, the hero section has been used to display a large, eye-catching image, but with the trends towards the use of more whitespace and large fonts (see 5. and 2. above) it’s likely that more and more hero sections will focus on compelling text headlines, with or without supporting images, as a way of creating immediate visitor engagement.
9. Use a Mobile-Friendly Design
As long ago as 2017 industry studies were reporting that more than half of all US web traffic came from mobile devices. And that more than 75% of cell phone users will turn first to their mobile devices to look for information.
This is a trend that’s only likely to accelerate with succeeding generations of mobile technology, and the bottom line is that if your lawyer website design is not mobile-friendly you will be at a serious competitive disadvantage.
It should go without saying that your site should load just as quickly – and be just as secure – when accessed on a mobile device as it would be when viewed on a traditional desktop.
But beyond this, there are certain important design elements to be borne in mind.
Firstly, the text should be easy to read, and the use of large fonts and whitespace as detailed above will assist with this.
Secondly, your site should be easily navigable meaning that buttons and links should be clearly visible and big enough to be easily tapped with fingers or thumbs.
Locating buttons within easy reach of users’ thumbs might seem like a minor detail, but given the way most people hold their phones, it’s an important factor in the overall user experience.
Finally, you should be aware that the design elements discussed above are as, if not more, important for mobile devices than for traditional PCs.
Things to Avoid in Attorney Web Design
An awareness of these trends will go a long way towards ensuring that your site is up-to-date for 2022.
But there are also certain things that every attorney web designer must take pains to avoid if optimal results are to be achieved.
1. Non-Responsive Design
However the initial website might look on a desktop, it should always be designed and coded with users’ mobile devices in mind. Having separate designs for different user devices is both time-consuming and expensive, and may also be confusing for visitors.
So it makes sense to exclude any unresponsive elements right from the start of the project.
2. Over-Complicated Designs
As suggested above, there’s a definite trend in 2022 towards simpler looking and easier to navigate sites.
And this is perhaps particularly important to bear in mind in the field of small law firm website design, where unnecessary add-ons, even too many additional colors, can add significantly to development costs without any corresponding enhancement of the user experience.
3. Generic 404 Pages
“404” error pages are generated automatically when site visitors click on a broken link. And the generic versions simply tell them that the page they’re looking for is unavailable.
And if they don’t realize how and why the 404 page has been generated, it’s all too easy for visitors to conclude that they’ve come to the wrong place, and to click away never to return.
The best answer, of course, is to eliminate or reduce the number of broken links on your site. and there are a number of softwares that can help with this.
But it’s also important to avoid generically worded 404 pages and to replace them with ones that will help your visitors find the information they’re seeking
4. Unclear Visual Hierarchy
The importance of visual hierarchy is something well known to e-commerce stores, in particular, and it might not be immediately obvious how it applies in the area of attorney web design.
But in fact, it’s an important principle for all websites, and really means that site visitors should not be bombarded with potentially confusing visual stimuli at inappropriate points on their journey through your site.
Visitors looking for, say, a guide to business law in their home state do not need to see photos and bios of your partners and other attorneys before they get to the relevant page. A link from the relevant information page to your contact details page will normally be sufficient.
Find Out More
Finally, it’s important to be aware that all the points we have discussed here are general trends that may or may not be applicable to the particular needs of your own website and business.
Lawyer web design is a rapidly developing art rather than an established science, and an individually tailored solution will always provide the best results.
So if you’d like to find out more about any of these projected trends for 2022, or to get general advice on your current and future website needs, please contact us here.
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