One of the ILN’s member firms, Fogler Rubinoff, recently launched a new website, focused on responsive design and definitely very cutting edge for the legal profession. We invited Michael Slan to present on the site during our 2013 Annual Meeting, and Michael had some great best practices for law firms on redesigning their websites, which I’d like to share.
Michael began by addressing some of the issues that they had with their current site, which had last been redesigned in 2005. The site itself was fine, but it had some issues:
- Looked like everyone else’s
- Required too many clicks
- Too much scrolling
- Inefficient layout of content
- Text-heavy and lacked visual content
They knew, based on a study done by Microsoft Research in 2010, that it’s necessary to capture people’s attention within the first ten seconds, because if you don’t, people typically move on.
Choosing a Provider
So the firm went through an RFP process, which focused on cost, technology, a creative redesign and the supplier’s ability to deliver on time and on budget. They had five submissions for the RFP, including the incumbent, and ultimately partnered with a Toronto outfit called Pixelcarve.
Pixelcarve had had experience with professional services firms, but not of Fogler Rubinoff’s size. The firm was impressed that Pixelcarve had requirements for them and was careful in deciding whether they would take on the work – they didn’t want to work with too many people at the firm, because they knew that would impact the cost and timing of the project.
Michael said that he remembered Ross Fishman’s presentation to the ILN, when he remarked on the similarities among law firm websites, who all seem to say that they do everything for everyone, and do it the best. He wanted to do something different, and Pixelcarve understood that.
Pixelcarve further impressed them with their emphasis on making the website client-focused, and wanting to design with that in mind. Michael showed an example of one of Pixelcarve’s clients, whose site had photos of their own clients on it as the focus – he said that they were looking to have the same type of emphasis on their new site. At the same time, though, Pixelcarve wasn’t too innovative – while Fogler Rubinoff wanted something new and different, they still wanted something that wasn’t too far out of their comfort zone.
Once they were comfortable with their provider, Foglers took some steps within the firm as part of the process:
- Establish website committee: They established a committee led by a senior associate (now a partner) and a young partner, who were designated as the sole points of contact.
- Appoint one Executive to committee: While they recognized that they wanted to keep most of the executive committee off of the website committee, they did appoint one Executive member, whose role was to champion the project at the executive level and keep the "stirrers of the pot" at bay.
- Review redesign: The firm wanted to come up with a fresh and modern logo redesign – the website wasn’t a full branding exercise, so they relied on their limited in-house expertise to develop a new logo.
- Establish schedule: They decided on a deliverables schedule and timeline, to coincide with the firm’s move to new offices.
- Launch meetings/discussions: The launch meetings and discussions began in October 2012, with a plan to launch the new site in January of 2013.
New Site is Launched
Michael then walked the delegates through the new website – the idea is for the site to feel like a tablet experience. Pixelcarve developed a client-focused "blank page concept" – the search engine is front and center with the text "How can we help you?" They purposely have not littered the home page with information, and tool bars for items that are not referenced every day are secondary to keep the page uncluttered.
So, as a user types in the information they are searching for – name, practice area, etc – only the things that are relevant pop up. This makes it easier for people to navigate, and improves the client experience.
Another update that the firm made in the website redesign was to take new photos of all of the attorneys. Since they were going with a more modern look for the entire site, as well as the bio pages, they decided to make their photos similarly modern. They recognized as the creative for the site came together that it would not do justice to the site to repurpose the old photos, so the new photos, which are full-screen, have a greater impact.
Michael showed that every page scrolls left to right (to mimic the tablet experience), and it’s formatted for use on a variety of browsers and devices – a nod to the ubiquity of mobile in today’s world. While it works differently on mobile devices, it’s full screen on all devices. The scrolling menus allow for easier navigation and less clutter, and the site offers some hints for accessibility.
Further modernizing the site, the firm included social media links for their attorneys on their bio pages, and provided a platform for blogs and other content to be easily found.
The new site is both aesthetically pleasing, and very modern, so I invite you to take a look!