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The Best (and Worst) Law Firm Website Designs

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish what makes a website the "best" because much of it is subjective. Other aspects are more fair to judge such as usability, use of space, site architecture, and content. After searching the Internet for law firm websites, I quickly was able to find some that did all of the above well. Some of it may still be personal preference and even colors. Specifically for law firms and lawyers, a professional appearance is necessary.

Below, I have reviewed three of my favorite law firm websites as well as two of my least favorite.

Best Law Firm Websites


Burke Brown Attorneys' website is very attractive and easy to navigate. The interior pages could use a little work, but the homepage definitely gives you a good first impression. The color scheme is very simple and doesn't distract the user. The hint of orange splashed throughout the site helps to liven it up.
A screenshot of Burke Brown Attorneys' homepage. View the site.

Springhouse Solicitors' website is colorful and is easy to navigate. The green color is very inviting and not too overpowering. I also like the simplicity in their website. The user is not flooded with crowded drop-down menus as they hover over the navigation. In addition, each interior page is simple and informative.

A screenshot of Springhouse Solicitors' homepage. View the site.

The Law Offices of Stipe & Belote's website has a professional appearance. The colors help create a professional look. The Flash animation is almost a bit much, but it is not too overpowering. They definitely shouldn't add anything else animated on the website.

A screenshot of The Law Offices of Stipe & Belote's homepage. View the site.

Worst Law Firm Websites


Brent Buckman's website, which is no longer in use, is very colorful, but not in a good way. I had no idea where to look first on this website. That blinding lime green paragraph? The scrolling title? The counter at the top? The highlighted paragraphs at the bottom? This website could use some professional help and clean up. I was shocked his website still looked like this after appearing on Season 5 of The Apprentice.
A screenshot of Brent Buckman's homepage.

Rachel A. Runnel's website, also no longer in use, is very interesting, to say the least. When I first opened up this website, I immediately thought I went to the wrong URL. It looks like the introduction to an online game. After looking in the top left corner, I realized I was at the correct URL (unfortunately). What a lion, tiger, and cheetah have to do with an attorney? The world may never know . .
A screenshot of Rachel A. Runnel's homepage.

Law Firm Websites Designed by TBH Creative


Hostetler & Kowalik PC Attorneys at Law
Hostetler & Kowalik PC's homepage.

Morrill & Associates PC
A screenshot of Morrill & Associates PC's homepage.

Takeaways


Make sure your website gives a great first impression. Some users check websites before even going to the business' location. Website first impressions are very important. If you do not know how to create a website, your business is too important to try and guess. Hire a professional.

Website Forms: Human or Computer? (CAPTCHAs)

Website form captcha
CAPTCHAs have become very popular on the Internet lately. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart. Good thing they shortened it, right? They make it harder for spammers and bots to get through.

Google has a CAPTCHA called reCAPTCHA. Google also determines if an IP address is solving too many CAPTCHAs in a short amount of time, then flags that IP address. ReCAPTCHA is free and accessible to blind users. Great work, Google!

Designing For Your Target Audience

Designing for your target audience is one of the most important factors to be aware of as a web designer. If you don't know or understand the audience and how they behave, that is one of the first questions to ask and find the answer.

When I hear "target audience," I always think back to my high school English class. The teacher would constantly tell us about the importance of our target audience. We used it for speeches, debates and more. English was always one of those classes where I would think, "when will I ever use this in the real world?" Well, here you go. Web and graphic design have a lot of focus on target audience.

Web Designer Depot wrote a great article called "Designing for Your Target Audience". They outline several important steps to follow when designing.

Who are they?

What does your target audience do for a living? What do they like? How old are they?

It really helps to create several personas. Think about what kind of people will be viewing your design. Be creative, but also be realistic. Senior citizens have different likes than children. If you create a website with neutral colors, it will not be very appealing to children.

Some personas are very long and detailed, while other are short and to the point. You can find examples on several websites. Just Ask has a few example personas. Create the personas that will best define your target audience.

Example persona:

Billy is an 8 year old going to a local public elementary school. He likes playing soccer and basketball. He also loves spending time on the computer. Interactive games are his favorite part class. Each day, his teacher allows 30 minutes of computer time. Computer games are Billy's favorite way to learn. His favorite websites are very colorful and contain a lot of movement.

Do the research.

Research? You have to do research? Yes, but not the kind of research you did in high school and college. The easiest way to do this is by a survey. Once you have figured out your target audience, get a survey together. It can either be online or paper, casual or formal. Gather some questions to ask your target audience. For example, you could ask what makes them want to purchase something: a) packaging b) quality of product c) advertisements, etc. Surveys will help you understand what your target audience wants. Don't be afraid to leave open ended questions! You'd be surprised how many people actually take the time to leave useful comments.

What are you doing?

Dry erase markers and whiteboards are fun and easy for
sketching and brainstorming!
Now that you've completed your research, it's time to figure out exactly what you're trying to design for. What is the goal? Are you selling a product, service or both? For example, web designer portfolios usually try to sell services. They very rarely advertise strictly web design. They include other things in the same area, such as, graphic design, print design, web development, usability, search engine optimization, etc. If you only have one service or one product, that's fine, but try not to close your mind on all of the additional possibilities out there! This is a great time to go back and study your research: what do the customers want?

Design basics.

"Above the fold" has been a term used for several decades. It refers to newspaper prints, but we have started using this term in web design. Most important items need to be above the fold. Discuss what your business needs. Do you need a new logo? Print materials? Brochures? Product packaging?

Examples of design with a distinct target audience in mind:

PBS Kids' website focuses on children in preschool and elementary school for their target audience. Their website is very colorful and playful. There are plenty of interactive things children can do. There is also a secondary section at the bottom for "grownups" if the parents want to learn more about PBS Kids -- in this design, elements are toned down and colors are shifted to a more white and 'open' composition.

PBS Kids' homepage. View the site.

Hickory Creek Healthcare's website focuses on senior citizens and their caretakers. The neutral colors appeal to adults. Adults are most likely coming to the website for information on the nursing homes.
Hickory Creek Healthcare's homepage. View the site.


Web Design Case Study: Megan S. Ott Foundation

We launched a new website for the Megan S. Ott Foundation today, and it can be viewed at http://www.megansottfoundation.org.

TBH Creative worked with the Megan S. Ott Foundation over the past year to help them define their brand and build a new website. The purpose of the website is gain support through volunteers and donations for the Megan S. Ott Foundation and all the people they serve. The secondary goal is to raise awareness and brand recognition in the community.

TBH Creative is a proud sponsor of the Megan S. Ott Foundation. We strive to be active in the community and support various organizations; this project work was an in-kind donation to the organization, community, all the women and families helped, and the cause.

We created the logo and supporting collateral and all aspects of the website and hosting.


The Megan S. Ott Foundation's homepage. Visit the website.

An interior page from Megan S. Ott's website. Learn more about Megan and the organization.

Megan S. Ott Foundation Logo:

The Megan S. Ott Foundation logo was designed to be clean and professional, last over time, represent breast cancer, and be used in various sizes and collateral. The organization is about caring and the heart with breast cancer symbol embedded represents that.

Before Redesign:

Above is the Megan S. Ott Foundation's homepage before the redesign. The previous website was a great start, but the new website has more substance, photo galleries and information about events as well as a way to accept online donations.

About the Megan S. Ott Foundation

The Megan S. Ott Foundation is the remarkable vision of Megan Snyder Ott. Megan envisioned an organization that would provide immediate personalized financial support and "sunshine" to families in the Indianapolis metro community fighting the day-to-day battle of breast cancer.

Two Foundation volunteers are paired with each recipient to build personal, supportive relationships.

The Demise of Internet Explorer 6: Web Design Just Got Easier...For Now

For web developers everywhere, Internet Explorer 6 has been a trouble maker for quite some time. The code may seem perfect and the website can look beautiful on Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera and even Internet Explorer 9, but look terrible on the 6th version of Internet Explorer without significant effort to fix. This week, Microsoft announced they will no longer be supporting or updating Internet Explorer 6. Less than 1% of United States Internet users use IE6.

Web Design Trends for 2012: One Page Layouts

We are doing a series of 2012 web design trends, and our seventh and final prediction for web design trends in 2012 is one page layouts.

One page layouts are beautiful, if they're done right. When constructing a one page website, make sure you don't have too much information. One page layouts work best with small, minimalist websites. Less is more in this scenario. If you have a lot of content, you may want to consider a multi-page layout.

Skidpasset's website is a great example of a one page layout. I especially like how the navigation follows you throughout the site. It is important that the user doesn't lose the navigation.

Skidpasset's home page screen. Visit the site for the full experience.
Carter Digital's website also has a navigation that follows the user down the page. The following navigation, however, is different from the "home" screen navigation. Changing the navigation shows other designers you don't have to be stuck with the same navigation on the "interior" screens.

Carter Digital's home page screen. View the site for the full experience.

Volkswagen Beetle's website takes a long time to load, but it is definitely worth the wait. Let the scrolling begin!

Volkswagen Beetle's home page screen. View the site for the full experience.

I think it is extremely important that the navigation is accessible throughout the layout. If the user scrolls down to the bottom of the page and the navigation is missing, it confuses the user (even though all of the information is on the same page).

Do you want to check out more one page web designs?

One Page Love has endless pages of beautiful one page designs. I could probably spend hours on this site. They have a variety of lists, from most loved sites to sites that should be launching soon.

Our web design predictions for 2011 also included one-page layouts. It is a growing trend and will continue throughout 2012. See some of our examples there.

Do you want to add some of these new trends to your website? It is important to continually update your website and incorporate new trends -- your website is a 24/7 marketing tool for your business and communicates to visitors many times before they even make contact with you. Schedule a web consultation with TBH Creative. We specialize in web design and are committed to keeping up with the newest web design trends.

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