New law firm website design: best practice
Over the past year we’ve been working on a couple of law firm website design projects, both in London but with deeply contrasting aesthetics. While we’ve acted for law firms in the past, this is area we’re really interested in expanding given its diversity in subject matter. Working with law firms feels a natural extension of our work with financial companies such as Horizon Private Wealth, Oxford Investment Consultants and Alpha Insurance Analysts that we’ve developed new identities, websites and brand materials like presentation decks and business cards for.
I’ve already written about our work for Miles Preston Family Law, but the newly-launched Nautica Law has made 2022 a really interesting year for our work in the industry. Why? Because it’s more than just another nice piece of work: it’s a genuinely exciting one.
1. The power of new
The fascinating thing about these two projects is just how varied each approach and brief has been from a profession where one would imagine consistency. Our Zoom age has led to a very different approach to clients and has shed much of the formality that went before. It’s something we’ve embraced in turn, whether it be through new headshots without ties (though this was very reluctantly accepted by some…) or the application of modern vector animation on the web designs.
However if I was looking for a blanket term to describe these legal clients, professionalism would be it. As a matter of course we deploy brand consistency, guiding partnerships through the creative process and looking at fresh ways to apply this branding. But this approach applied consistently and well feels like a classic legal approach through a new lens. For instance, on our work for Nautica Law (more about that in a minute), the brand was subtly but elegantly applied to glass walls and partitions throughout their office.
Graphics inspired by our law firm web design work on the walls of Nautica Law
2. Legal (design) briefs
A clear brief is always a good start to any project, I tend to think.
This is particularly true of website projects where structure and logic are at the heart of understanding what clients will be looking for.
Anticipating the priorities of a law firm’s clients is usually second nature to the partners and associates. So it follows that transmitting this deep knowledge into how clients or colleagues will browse a website is invaluable to us in devising strong visual brand application. What follows is best practice user experience: the clearest possible layout of the information and flow through the pages.
Our outline at the beginning of the project is to condense this information into a rethought site page structure. It’s a simple approach that also acts as a brief for a copywriter, photographer and designer in one. Particularly for the verbal content, it will indicate the level of detail required in explaining sometimes complex services. Ironic given its apparent simplicity, agreeing a sitemap can be the most prolonged part of the briefing process, yet such considered preparation is rarely time wasted.
3. Ending at the beginning
We often focus on the end of a project before we’ve even begun it.
Following go-live, many firms choose to just leave it there – intense online marketing isn’t for everyone, not least niche practices – but particularly for newer partnerships, quietly waiting for new business to come knocking isn’t an option.
Posting regular thought leadership relevant to your sector, whether on LinkedIn or the site itself, may seem frivolous or without specific aim, but keeping content fresh is vital and pretty straightforward.
For instance, well-timed critical thinking about current cases is second nature to most lawyers and writing this up invariably means being picked up by legal news sites. It’s well-known that fresh copy means that search engines rank a site higher, but aside from anything else, clients reading this whether in the press or on the site itself will have impression that the practice is vibrant, professional and on the ball reinforced.
The new Nautica Law brand
4. Taking the plunge
Earlier this year, a set of partners from Winter Scott, a longstanding client, approached us to consider a new approach. They were affecting a demerger, and wanted to rethink every aspect of the firm’s visual approach. The brief was nothing short of total renewal.
The end result is an exercise in the power of design and a bold client. It’s in many ways an extraordinary reboot for the firm with new name (Nautica Law), offices, photography, identity and website, yet an existing key team and client base.
Nautica Law has been that rare project – great fun. Everyone involved was energised by the change in direction and wanted to really go for it. Even better, we were able to deliver the work on time to the hard deadline of the demerger agreement. We leapt at the challenge.
5. Catching a wave
Our brand identity for Nautica Law is one of my favourite types of design: a simple visual combining more than one idea at a time. The idea is to combine a wave and an ‘N’ which I absolutely love. However we seem to have gone one step further – the partners are convinced they can also see the prow of a ship in the square. I can’t help but agree… but admittedly claim credit for that. What can I say, post-rationalisation works for me!
With the logo agreed, we worked with the team preparing graphics for Nautica’s new offices, suggesting ways the icon could be extrapolated and expanded in monochrome for the office windows and partitions, which repeat throughout the space. Continuing the roll of visual ideas, this concept in turn inspired a set of business cards which used this pattern on the reverse of the finished printed designs.
Our website uses an idea I’d wanted to try for a long time and this law firm website design project proved the perfect moment: rolls of waves from the top-down which we tinted in Nautica’s new brand blue.
The combination of all these things is a genuinely exciting piece of work that all of us involved are not only proud of – but excited by.
Embrace distinctive, stylish law firm web design: it’s a great investment
As we increase our legal client base, we’re interested in talking with more law firms about how they can approch their web presence in a better, more effective way.
Why not work with us?
Call us on 020 7351 4083