How Lawyers Should Approach Working With Web Designers

Jeff Berman
August 10, 2012

I read this terrific article yesterday on How To (and not to) Work With A Designer.  The article is chock-full of good advice that really hit home for me based on my experience working on web design projects.

I would like to share a few of the suggestions that should be top of mind for lawyers.

Getting The Most Effective Design Results

As Will points out in his article,

The way to inspire a designer is to give them the message and feeling you want to convey, and the freedom to convey it in a fresh, new way.

In other words, being a "good client" in the design process is about communicating the marketing message and feeling you want the design to communicate, not telling the designer the specific layout and design to create.  Remember, you are hiring a designer because you are not one yourself.  It's important you put trust in their ability to come up with a creative approach that communicates your message and appeals to your audience.  You aren't hiring them so that you can tell your designer how to do design.

Leave Preconcieved Notions At The Door

Don’t ask for a site like someone else’s but in a different color. Be open to new, unexpected ideas. Don’t be afraid of something different. Let new ideas sink in.

This one is especially relevant in the legal arena.  In my experience, lawyers tend to want to "follow the marketing" pack.  Many tend to choose one or two of their competitor sites they like and ask for the same site in green.  A better approach is to communicate the emotional components of the site, the feelings you want the site to evoke for your audience, to the designer so that they have the freedom to take you in a direction you may not have considered.  Often times you can wind up with a better, unexpected result.

Tell Your Designer What You Want To Say

...rather than how you want it to look. Don’t ask for a color, shape, or style--ask for meaning or emotion.

Design makes you feel, so tell your designer how it makes you feel. Instead of saying, “I like yellow,” get to the root of it and say “I want a site that feels warm,” or “I want something upbeat and friendly.”

I touched on this point already, but it's worth mentioning again.  It's much more effective to tell a designer the message or feeling you are trying to communicate rather than telling them to change the border to brown and move the photo 15 pixels to the left.  This comes up often in my experience.  An attorney client takes over the design process and starts dictating design changes rather than deferring to the professional they hired.  It's vital you have trust in the expertise of the design professional.

Design For Your Customer

...not yourself, your friends or your colleagues. Be specific so your designer knows who your customers are and what they want. It’s more important that they like your site than that you like it. Always remember, “What’s in it for them.”

This is a critical point that I would argue is one of the most important to keep in mind.  As I discussed in a recent post I wrote, Quit Marketing To Yourself (Unless You Are Your Audience), each decision you make regarding your marketing should be assessed from the viewpoint of how it will resonate with the audience your service is for. Unless you are a representative sample of your typical client, stop trying to create a website design around what appeals to you.

Don’t Design By Committee

No good design was ever created by a consensus. The more people who have a voice in the process, the more watered down the results will be. Your friends and coworkers will often give you conflicting advice and people often have ulterior motives when they give you comments (they may be jealous or threatened if you get something that’s too good, or they may just be ignorant). You can show it to a few trusted people and get their comments, but there can only be one person making decisions.

I've seen many law firm web design projects go down the tubes for this very reason.  Someone needs to be the quarterback of the team.  Here is a good article to read further expanding on this point, Design By Committee Will Ruin Your Website.

Give Specific FeedBack When Looking At Design Concepts

Don’t just say, “I don’t like brown.” That says nothing of real value. If you say “I’m concerned that the color looks sickly and we need something that conveys growth,” then you are giving the designer useful information, because you’re talking about content rather than telling them how to design.

Communication is key so that your design concepts can be improved upon and get closer to the messaging and website you are striving for.  Simply saying something "sucks" or you "don't like it" doesn't help a designer better understand the question of "Why?".  Communicate what about you don't like.  What feelings or impressions is the current iteration making on you that you want to change?

Keeping these points in mind during the design process can help produce a much more effective end result.

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman, is co-founder of AttorneySync. "Properly marketing a law firm online is about producing relevant content that helps a prospective client understand your expertise and how you are able to help them. Finally, it’s about getting that content found by the people you are trying to help."
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Let's Discuss Your Growth

Helping law firms grow profitably with digital marketing and can prove it.

Barry Conybeare

We are so impressed with AttorneySync and their digital marketing services. We started with an audit of our digital presence and hired them thereafter. Fixes to the website and other platforms quickly followed and we have seen a substantial increase in online traffic, new client calls, and new client contracts. Strongly recommend AttorneySync!

Let's Talk

How can we help?

More From Our Blog

June 8, 2023
On Local Law Firm SEO Rank Tracking and Reporting

Over the years, law firm prospects have sent us reports from just about all of our competitors. Unfortunately, even today, some law firm marketing agencies still mislead their clients via "reporting." One particularly egregious example comes in the form of ranking reports. Which prompted this LinkedIn post. To my surprise, I received a lot of […]

Read More
June 7, 2023
On Attribution

John Wanamaker supposedly said "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." In an an effort to figure out "what half is working," attribution was born. Coupled with a transition from traditional, offline ads to digital media, attribution became the holy grail for analyzing advertising spends. But […]

Read More
March 22, 2023
I asked ChatGPT to Recommend a Personal Injury Law Firm

I recently asked ChatGPT, "What are some of the top personal injury law firms in Chicago?? Actually, first I ask "who are some of the top personal injury lawyers in Chicago?" ChatGPT couldn't handle that one, so I modified the prompt. ChatGPT listed five very well-known firms downtown. Can you guess the other four? That's […]

Read More
February 17, 2023
My Take on Google Search's Guidance on AI-Generated Content & Law Firm SEO

If you're like me, you have some degree of AI, ChatGBT, Bard, exhaustion. Now don't get me wrong, this is stuff is remarkable and is changing, well, a lot. But before you hook up the ChatGPT API to your WordPress API and crank out 10,000 pages, here are a few things to think about. Let's […]

Read More
February 16, 2023
Google Adds New SEO Best Practices for Links

If you know me, you know my opinions about links and SEO advice from Google. If you don't, here's the TL;DR: Meh, links! Meaning, all things being equal, links still remain a competitive difference maker for ranking. Take Google's SEO advice with several grains of salt. Google has no economic incentive to help your site […]

Read More
February 1, 2023
Authenticity & Engagement

The best marketing advice I can give you is to be authentic. Of course, you don't find that very helpful in terms of meeting your growth goals. So, you might decide to game the system. As I'm writing this, one of the more popular ways to gain the system is to pay for engagement. This […]

Read More
January 19, 2023
ChatGPT for Legal Marketing

The following post was written by ChatGPT. ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a state-of-the-art language model that can generate human-like text based on a given prompt or context. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way that businesses, including law firms, market themselves to potential clients. One way that a law firm could use […]

Read More
May 26, 2022
SEO Expectations for Law Firms

How long does SEO take? When can I expect to see results? What results should I expect to see? These are all reasonable questions that we field from lawyers every day. And, like many legal answers, the answer is: It depends. Yes, I know that's not the answer you wanted. But it's the most honest […]

Read More
May 6, 2022
Who Should Do Marketing?

And how much time should they spend doing it? I recently had the privilege of chatting with Tyson, Jim, and Conrad for an upcoming episode of The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. If you're not familiar with The Maximum Lawyer community, you should definitely check it out. Jim asked a really great question about who should do […]

Read More

Let's Discuss

Questions or comments? Let's discuss on social!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram