Strategies+: A Blog for Legal Marketers

Website Trends to Avoid

Posted by Jabez LeBret on Oct 27, 2016 9:20:00 AM

Part Two of a Two-part Your Honor Awards Series

By: Jabez LeBret and Robert Algeri

Last month, in the first installment of our two-post series, Website Trends That You Need to Know About, we explored website trends for which legal marketers should embrace or at least be aware of.

This second post examines the opposite end of the spectrum: Trends that law firm marketers should avoid. We consider these six trends to be passé due to the fact that they have proven to either be ineffectual or hinder engagement. 

 Hamburger navigation on desktop viewsYHA1.png

The advent of the smartphone brought about something called hamburger navigation: a technique that condenses and hides the site navigation. It’s a great solution for small screens (like a phone), but it doesn’t work so well for standard, desktop versions of your website. Here’s an article that explains why.

 

 

Endlessly scrolling home pages YHA2.png

Users want easy access to information that is relevant to their needs, rather than all of your content. Too much content on one long, scrolling page can be frustrating to wade through. 

Here’s an article that further explains why endlessly scrolling home pages might not make sense for your firm.

 

Metaphorical photosYHA3.png

This design idea seemed cool in 1997 but was passé by 1999. Yet, some designers still lean on these photos. Why? Because it’s easy.

The simplest, cheapest way to design a home page is to write a headline about the firm’s “strategic approach” and put it next to a stock photo of a chess board. Or to write a headline about how “different” the firm is, and place it next to a photo of a poodle with a pink mohawk.

When we see something like this, we can only think, “The designer phoned this one in.” On a related note, here is a really funny AdWeek article about stock photos.

 

Parallax scrolling

Parallax scrolling adds a layer of visual depth to your site. Here’s a great example: http://www.firewatchgame.com/.

But, as cool as it is, it rarely makes sense for law firms. This design requires a lot of compromises, as shown in the below list from an article published by “AWWARDS,” a respected online digital awards conference:YHA4.png

  1. It is bad for SEO. Because sites that utilize parallax scrolling tend to consist of one page, there’s usually little content that can be crawled by the search engines. This is especially true when text tends to be embedded in graphics.
  2. It can reduce performance. Due to heavy use of graphics and JavaScript, loading a page can bog users down, especially on mobile devices.
  3. It can negatively affect users. In its research on parallax scrolling, the Journal of Usability Studies found that although the parallax site was considered to be more fun than non-parallax sites, some users experienced “motion sickness and experienced significant usability issues when interacting with the parallax website."

 

Home page carousels and rotating images

When a firm can’t agree on a single headline message or image, the easy solution is to write five messages and put them in a rotating carousel on the home page. We understand that you are often in the middle of dispute over which practice group will be featured on the home page. The problem is that five messages is four too many.YHA5.png

Furthermore, users hate rotating images. A usability study out of Sweden found that an auto-rotating carousel on the home page was clicked by only 1.96 percent of users. When it was changed to a static image, it was clicked by over 43 percent of users.

In fact, every usability study shows that rotating images hurt conversions. It turns out that no one sticks around to watch all the pretty images and phrases, except the site's marketers and designers.

The solution? Pick one image, as difficult as that might be, and stick with it.

 

Visual clutter 

Law firm websites are tools meant to help attorneys share content, demonstrate expertise and ultimately burnish reputations. Therefore, the inclusion of any design elements that distract visitors from accessing or consuming the content on the website should be avoided. As marketers, we should strive to avoid a website visitor's ever asking themselves, “Where do I look? Where do I click? What do I do?”

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Are there other website trends that legal marketers should avoid? We would love to hear your thoughts and even see some examples. Please join the discussion in the comments section below.


Both Jabez and Robert are the 2017 co-chairs for the Your Honor Awards. Submissions for the 2017 Your Honor Awards are now being accepted with the deadline of Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, at noon CT to submit an entry for consideration. Be recognized and submit today!

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 Robert Algeri is a co-founder of Great Jakes, an award-winning marketing firm that develops “smarter websites for law firms.” In addition to his responsibilities at Great Jakes, Robert is active in the legal marketing community, having held numerous board and committee positions in LMA. Robert is also a frequent writer and speaker on issues relating to legal marketing. His work has appeared in a variety of industry publications such as LMA’s Strategies magazine, Marketing the Law Firm and the National Law Journal. He has been a featured speaker at LMA chapter events and at the LMA annual conferences.

 

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Jabez LeBret is co-author of the best-selling legal technology book Online Law Practice Strategies. He is an international technology expert who has delivered CLE presentations across the nation. Jabez writes a regular business and technology column for Forbes and is also a contributor to the ABA Journal and NBC Chicago. He is also co-founder of the legal marketing agency GNGF, winner of the 2014 Best Places to Work by the Cincinnati Business Courier and runner-up for Business of the Year by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. He loves coffee and is a craft beer enthusiast

 

Topics: Technology Management, Communications

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