Twenty years ago, law firms were being encouraged to go online and build out websites. (Quality wasn’t the primary concern. Simply having a website put you at the top of the industry.)
Ten years ago, the focus shifted to creating better website experiences.
Today, there’s a need for optimizing law firm website architecture to ensure prospective clients are getting as much value as possible from these sites. The question is, does your website have a strategy for handling its architecture, navigation, SEO, etc.?
What is Website Architecture?
Web design is a lot like interior design. It’s all about finding your style, selecting finishing touches, and making the website visually pleasing and brand-centric. It’s the fun, stimulating, and rewarding part of the process. Website architecture is a little more mundane (but no less important).
If web design is like interior design, website architecture is all about building the foundation. It’s comprised of the nuts and bolts of the operation. Visitors don’t directly see the architecture at work, but they certainly feel the effects each time they visit.
As HubSpot explains, “Website architecture is the way your website is structured or, more specifically, how your website’s structure can help users easily and quickly find information and drive conversions.”
And if you want your law firm website to be successful and high-converting in today’s ultra-competitive SEO/digital marketing space, you have to perfect your architecture so that your design, copy, and other surface details can shine through.
Three Tips for Your Law Firm Website
Now’s the time to invest/reinvest in your website by paying careful attention to its architecture and other foundational elements. Here are a few suggestions to get you moving:
- Develop a Clear Visitor Path
Website architecture is not a place for surprises. The path has to be clear and predictable. You should have service specific pages that address each target client – and they should be easily accessible from any part of the website.
If you’re in the workers’ comp space, you should have hyperlinks throughout your website with the call-to-action to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney, which should ultimately lead them to a location-specific workers’ comp URL, which in turn educates, engages, and converts. There shouldn’t be any guesswork. The simpler the better.
- Make Navigation Simple and Obvious
Keep your navigation menu as slim as possible. Too many tabs at the top of the page will distract visitors and prevent them from finding what they need.
One of the most common options is to have tabs like practice areas, attorneys, testimonials, blog, about us, and contact. From there, you can have multiple tabs within each heading.
Be careful not to go more than three layers deep in a navigation menu. It’s okay to do something like this:
Practice areas > personal injury > slip and fall accidents
But you risk overcomplicating things if you take it further. For example:
Practice areas > personal injury > slip and fall accidents > broken bones
There’s plenty of opportunity to combine information into one page, which streamlines navigation and makes things easier on you.
- Consider the Switch to a Flat URL Structure
One seemingly small, yet critically important detail involves how you structure your URLs. There are a couple of different approaches.
The first (and most commonly used) is the multiple sub-directory structure. It looks something like this:
This structure uses multiple “directory folders” to systematically organize website content. And while this is definitely a clean and efficient way of structuring your site, it’s not optimal from an SEO perspective. Not only does the keyword (family law attorney) appear at the end, but visually the link looks like a hot mess.
A better option is the flat URL structure, which looks like this:
Notice how simple and clean this URL is. It features the keyword and that’s it. And while a case can be made for both a multiple sub-directory structure and a flat URL structure, studies show that the latter approach leads to better search rankings (all factors being equal).
Take Your Website Seriously
There was a time when a law firm website was a “nice to have.” However, in today’s world, you not only must have a website, but it needs to be strategically optimized for conversions.
If you want to take your web presence seriously, it starts with the foundational elements of website architecture. These may not be the most glamorous details, but they’re certainly among the most important.