According to the American Bar Association, 86% of law firms have a website. That’s a LOT of competition for your prospects’ attention! In order for your website to be an effective, lead-generating, marketing tool, you need to focus on the user experience, aka UX.
A positive user experience can mean the difference between a web visitor becoming a client or clicking away to your competitor’s site. You need to draw people in, ensure they have a positive experience on your site, and keep them coming back for more if you want to maximize the benefits of your online presence. In order to do that, it’s important to understand exactly what a good experience entails for web visitors.
What is a Good User Experience?
A good user experience can vary depending on the type and purpose of the website, but the fundamental elements of a good user experience on every site include:
- Speed: In the immortal words of Top Gun’s Maverick Mitchell, “I feel the need—the need for speed!” – and your website visitors feel the same way. Ideally, your website should load in 3 seconds or less. The majority of sites don’t, so improving your load time could be a significant advantage for you. Test your site here to see how you stack up.
Images that aren’t optimized, content that’s not formatted properly, problems with the server hosting your site, database issues, and poor coding are a few of the factors that can cause your site to load slowly. When users have to wait a long time for your site to come up or find it cumbersome to move between pages due to long load times, they are likely to move elsewhere on the Internet to a site that provides instant access to the info they need.
Optimizing your images is an easy way to reduce the amount of time it takes your site to load, because images typically take up an enormous amount of bandwidth. There are two easy ways to optimize your images:
- Properly scaling them – Many webmasters use huge images and then scale them down with CSS. However, your browser still loads them at the full image size, so be sure to scale them PRIOR to uploading
- Compressing them – There are several free online tools for image compression, such as Compress JPEG, that can reduce your image sizes dramatically without losing quality.
- Navigation: Users should be able to move around your website and easily find the information they want. If your site is hard to navigate or confusing to visitors, they are not going to stick around and put in the extra effort to find what they are looking for. Your main navigation bar should include links to the most important pages on your site, organized in a logical way.
- Content: Is your website copy easy to read and understand? Is the content informative or is it dense, stuffed with keywords, and difficult to understand? Visitors expect to be able to quickly and easily read the information that they care about- and they expect it to be reasonably well written. If you provide substandard content filled with typos and mistakes or content that’s difficult to read, your visitors are likely going to get a bad impression of your firm that may be impossible to overcome.
- Effective use of graphics: While a picture may be worth a thousand words, graphics should be used judiciously and they should serve a purpose. Pictures and graphics can look nice, but they can also be overwhelming and can take away from a site experience. Graphics that are too busy, that take a long time to load, or that present an unappealing image will detract from the visitor’s experience. You should also be careful with the use of autoplay videos that automatically start when a user visits your site. This can prompt users to click away immediately if they are using the Internet in a quiet space.
Your site also needs to have an easy way for potential clients to reach out and contact you, and should have timely updated content so it never grows stale. Think about the needs of your prospects, what they are looking for, and what you would want to see if you were visiting your website. This will provide you with the guidance you need to create a good user experience.
Why Does a Good User Experience Matter?
A good user experience is going to impact your rankings on search engines, the website traffic that you get, and conversions (clicks turning to clients).
Sites that have missing or broken links are going to suffer when it comes to search engine algorithms, as are websites that aren’t optimized and have poorly written HTML coding. Search engines also look for fresh, relevant and engaging content, just like site visitors do. Poor SEO as a result of a badly designed website is going to mean a significant decline in site visitors. Search engine algorithms have also recently begun considering how your website works on mobile, so be sure not to neglect tablet and phone-friendly design principles.
Improved user experience is not just going to generate more traffic, but it’s also going to generate more relevant traffic and result in a higher conversion rate. Some studies have shown that an improved UX can increase conversion rates by as much as 400 percent. By making your website easier for prospects to use, you can build trust with potential clients and inspire them to stick around your site long enough to contact you.
With so many benefits to making sure your site provides a good user experience, it is essential to consider usability in every phase of your web design. Professionals with experience in SEO and site design can provide invaluable assistance in making sure your site works as well as possible for your visitors.
Director, Web and Online Marketing Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128