How long does a website last? How do you know if it’s time for a redesign? A website refresh might be needed to update the brand, improve conversion rates, keep up with technology changes, or accommodate new functionality.
A law firm’s website is a valuable asset in the Digital Age, but it’s not a one-off investment. Over time, website technologies evolve and old plugins become obsolete, search rankings can decline without attention, and clients’ tastes change.
If your website has sat untouched for some time, or if you have noticed a drop-off in the number of enquiries you receive via your website, it might be worth considering a redesign to update it to present-day standards.
Before you embark on a website redesign, an early conversation with an experienced law firm marketing specialist will ensure that important technical considerations for the future success of the site are embedded in the project from the outset.
With over 15 years of experience in search engine optimisation for law firms, the team at Cure Digital have devised proven digital strategies that drive business growth and always improve on past performance.
Here are 21 signs your law firm’s website needs a redesign, and why they are important.
1. Your website is old
If your website is old – especially if its design has not been updated in the past five years – you should check whether it still meets current web standards.
Just some of the relatively recent changes include the move to mobile-first search results and responsive web design, as well as the end of support for Flash.
There are also new options such as ‘lazy’ image loading which can help your pages to load faster, while reducing the bandwidth used by your server.
2. You’re embarrassed by your website
Even if your website is technically still functional, it might not be up to your current standards, especially if your firm has grown in size and importance.
If you’re ashamed to let clients see your website, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to invest in a redesign, no matter how recently the current version was created.
3. Rival websites are better
In a competitive sector, there’s no shame in admitting that a rival firm has a better website than you and taking action to redress that balance.
By looking at several competitors’ websites, as well as those of the big national firms, you can see what others are doing and come up with certain elements you know you want to include in your redesign.
4. It doesn’t engage your audience
If you have low confidence in your website, it’s likely your visitors will find it uninspiring too. You can see this in your website analytics data if you have a high ‘bounce rate’ and low ‘dwell time’.
- Bounce rate: Visitors leave after reading only one page of your website.
- Dwell time: The total amount of time visitors spend on your site per session.
The higher your ratio of bounce rate to dwell time, the less engaged your audience is, and the less chance you have of generating business and revenues.
5. Client engagement is low
More specifically, if you cannot engage with your clients via your website, you will miss out on opportunities to increase appointment bookings and receive new enquiries.
Client engagement is not just visible in your analytics, but also in the enquiries you receive in the real world – so consider things like the number of client emails you receive, especially those sent via your website contact form.
6. Your branding is out of date
Consistent branding is an important element in putting across a unified marketing campaign across online and offline channels, so make a website update part of any new promotional efforts.
Branding is often relatively easy to update if your website is technically still functional and modern, particularly if your developers used up-to-date methods like CSS (cascading style sheets) and responsive web design.
7. You struggle to make updates
If updating your website is difficult, it’s possible your content management system (CMS) is in need of an upgrade – or a replacement.
A modern website will typically use a CMS so that you can create new pages and blog posts or make minor edits to existing content.
You can leave this to your SEO agency or online marketing expert, but it’s still best practice to have a website that makes updates as easy as possible to publish.
8. Your information is out of date
This is quite basic but if your website contains out-of-date information, this could lead to lost business opportunities.
An obvious example is contact details (e.g. telephone number or email address) that no longer work, but you should also keep your website updated with any change of office address and any significant personnel changes, especially if you have an ‘Our Team’ or ‘Our People’ kind of page.
9. You have no recent blog posts
In this sense, a ‘blog post’ can also be any time-sensitive content, such as a news update or a special offer that tied into a limited-time promotion in the past.
Websites with no recent updates – particularly if it is clear how long ago the last update was made – can look abandoned and may encourage visitors to leave without attempting to contact you.
10. You have no content strategy
You get the best value from your website when you have a clear content strategy in place, including a schedule for future updates on specific topics.
This allows you to reinforce your position as a leading voice in your main areas of practice, as well as to introduce new services or promotions over time, based on current events, calendar dates or SEO keyword research by your web marketing agency.
11. You can’t remember your last update
In general if you’re not sure when your website was last updated, it’s worth at least auditing it for any out-of-date content and functionality issues.
If you can’t even remember your last update, that’s a clear red flag that it’s probably been a considerable length of time, which in turn means it’s more likely that information is out of date, a plugin has stopped working or web design best practice has simply moved on.
12. Your website is holding back your marketing efforts
The worst scenario is when you find your website is actively holding back your marketing efforts, for example by lacking support for promotions you want to run, or failing to include information about new services you have started to provide.
When this is the case, you have several options. You could choose a partial update to add the required content to your existing site, or it might be more economical to overhaul the entire site in order to bring the design, functionality and content all up to date at once.
13. It lacks sales-oriented content
If you have a relatively small or simple website, it’s likely your pages are purely informative. While information is valuable content, it’s important to remember that most, if not all of your web pages are there to sell your services.
As such, you should consider getting your website fully updated with sales-driven content, including search-optimised landing pages to bring in traffic, and pages that allow visitors to give you their contact details so your sales team can follow up on their enquiry.
14. It doesn’t maximise conversion rates
Your website’s conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete a predefined goal, whether that’s giving you their contact details, making an enquiry or actually engaging in some billable legal services.
Websites that have a good amount of traffic but poor conversion rates do not represent a significant return on investment – and you should consult a web marketing agency about the best way to convert more of those visitors into paying clients.
15. Your website analytics are trending down
Even a well performing law firm website can enter a period of decline, due to competitors’ sites improving, changes to search engine ranking algorithms or a shift in the market for the legal sector.
Keep a careful eye on your website analytics. If they start to show a consistent downturn – especially after a prolonged period of trending upwards – it might be time to call an SEO consultant to find out if there has been a significant Google update.
16. You have a high bounce rate
Remember your bounce rate. As well as being a sign that your content is not engaging for your visitors, it can also be an indication of technical problems or slow page load speeds, all of which should be tackled.
If visitors are leaving your website without ever really ‘connecting’ with it, none of your on-site marketing and sales pages have the chance to do their job, so working to diagnose and reduce a high bounce rate can be a very effective targeted intervention for a poorly performing site.
17. Your rivals rank higher than you
Rival law firms outranking you in Google’s search results may be a sign that you need to refocus your online marketing activities and make up some of that lost ground.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean redesigning your website, this can be a symptom that your site design is out of step with current Google guidelines and algorithms.
A good web design agency or SEO consultant should be able to audit your site and tell you if they would recommend making any changes to bring it up to date.
18. Your site performs poorly on mobile
This is a bigger issue than you might imagine. Google have now adopted a ‘mobile-first’ approach to ranking search results, so mobile-friendly websites should be ranked higher.
Mobile-friendly sites tend to load faster across all devices, which is good news for Google’s Core Web Vitals metrics too, and fully responsive web design means your pages should work no matter what device – and what size of screen – visitors use to load your site.
19. Your site loads slowly
We’ve touched on website loading speed in several places above, but it’s worth understanding the potential negative impacts of slow-loading pages.
- Loading speed is at the heart of Google’s Core Web Vitals, which give your pages a score and help to determine your search rankings.
- Visitors are more likely to abandon your site if it takes more than a few seconds to become visible in a useful or meaningful way.
- Slow-loading pages are likely to take longer to become interactive, delaying visitors from using page elements like contact forms.
- Multimedia may not be visible immediately, leaving your page filled with empty placeholders that can look ‘broken’.
- Text content may shift position on the page as slow-loading images and videos start to appear, which is annoying for users and another Google Core Web Vital metric.
Ultimately, a website that loads quickly and smoothly is a website that works, so if your old site performs badly on this measure, consider implementing a more streamlined design.
20. Your site lacks functionality
Clients expect a lot from legal firm websites. At the very least, paying clients are likely to want clear contact details for the team or department they need, and will probably also prefer it if you provide FAQs and step-by-step guides to legal processes like conveyancing or personal injury claims.
If you want to add significant extra value, commission a website redesign that adds live online chat, multimedia (you could produce short video ‘explainers’ or a law-themed podcast) and/or a client portal for online access to important documents.
21. Your site is not secure
For law firms, especially if you process client data in any way via your website, there are regulatory reasons why you should make sure your data is encrypted and your website is secure.
But there are also SEO benefits, as in October 2017, Google’s Chrome browser started displaying a warning to users trying to visit a website using the HTTP protocol instead of the more secure HTTPS.
This followed their efforts to encourage the uptake of HTTPS by giving secure websites a ranking boost in the search results, all of which means if you have an older site still using an unsecured connection protocol, you’re long overdue for an update.
To talk to a law firm marketing expert call us now on 0161 660 3281.