Last year was ground-breaking for law firm web design at PaperStreet, setting the bar high for websites launching in 2016. The average user is now a savvy consumer who often, if not primarily, accesses sites through their mobile phone (it now goes without saying that responsive design is an absolute must). The typical user doesn’t just expect a website to be user-friendly, they demand it. For most attorneys a website is their main marketing tool so there is more at stake than ever to deliver results that impress.
We’ve outlined the trends and big ideas you’ll see this coming year in legal websites:
- User-Focused – “What Can We Do For YOU?”
- Flat, Minimalistic Design
- Long Scroll
- Large Background Image, Simple and Large Type on Top
- Unique Bios
- Loading and Image Animation
- Ghost Buttons
- Sticky Headers
User-focused – “What Can We Do For YOU?”
We’re shifting our clients’ advertising mindset from the old model of “look at how great we are…[insert more self-praise language here]” to a more user-focused model of “what can we do for YOU?”
The emphasis, of course, being on meeting the needs of the user. Websites that set out to answer the users’ questions, address their concerns, and take an empathetic stance are ones that not only bode better with SEO, but are inherently more effective. So, how does this impact design? A few possible ways are through creative messaging and creating user-resource sections.
Flat, Minimalistic Design
Flat, minimalistic design made a big debut in 2015 and it’s here to stay (at least for now), which means more website with little to no drop shadows, gradients and other more dimensional graphics. Imagery is what now provides depth and flare (more to come about that later). Pages are balanced with clean typography, image boxes and a lot of white space. Layouts have room to breathe and in turn the content is easy to read.
Now that users have become accustomed to the long page scroll, many actually prefer it. It’s easy to see why as you don’t have to load another page to get a nice overview of the firm and it translates really well to mobile devices.
Large Background Image, Simple and Large Type on Top
A large background image with big type in the foreground is probably the most ubiquitous trend we’ve seen so far. At PaperStreet, when we use this design feature, it’s important that we still make it unique by writing clever, purposeful messages and pairing them with creative photos.
As the competition grows fiercer, setting yourself apart has become increasingly more important. One of the benefits of our custom level web design package is having a unique attorney bio page. Those small rectangular head shots are so five years ago. In 2015 and now in 2016, you’ll see large attorney photos that showcase their relatability, personality, and flare.
Loading and Image Animation
It is no doubt that 2015 was certainly the year of the background video (usually silent), and that trend is still going strong. In our experience this approach is not always the best fit for attorneys, as a legal video is usually most effective for informational and communicative purposes. PaperStreet has been utilizing a new trend to jazz up our sites and that’s the loading animation. It just gives a subtle jolt to the anticipation and engagement factor of the site.
While image animation is not a new trend, it is worth pointing out that new elegant and subtle effects can be just as engaging and effective as video.
Ghost buttons are those call to action buttons that have a solid thin outline and transparent center, letting the background image or design show through. They popped up in 2014/2015, however you’ll be seeing these much more now on law firm websites.
I love this trend because the functionality of it is completely user-focused. A sticky header is when the header actually “sticks” to the top of your browser screen, allowing it to be present even when you are scrolling down the page. A sticky header allows your brand, menu navigation and contact information to remain readily available for the user. PaperStreet has made this a best practice standard with our websites and you’ll see it across the board in every responsive view (desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile).
Put PaperStreet to Work for You
Thanks for checking out the top trends in 2016 law firm web design inspiration! As always, our team is available for a free consultation. Make this year THE year your site shines and increases your client base.