Top view of teams' hands as they review website design for law firm
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Heard whispers about design testing but unsure how it can elevate your practice—or if you can afford it? We object to mediocrity, and you should, too. The good news is that excellence can be affordable, if you take our advice about design testing for cheap.

Real design testing can be extremely tedious, although it does provide invaluable information. To that end, we have a hack to help lawyers avoid undergoing design testing and still come away with an effective website. 

At the end of this article, you’ll understand what design testing is, what it can give you, and how to get it without busting your budget. Below, we’ll briefly explain the difference between design testing and usability testing, make a case for design testing, explain the core elements of design testing and how to benefit from design testing without doing it yourself.

Design testing vs. usability testing

Design testing is like the haute couture of the web world. It’s about appearance, branding and first impressions. In this process, you’re checking for consistency across your visuals and multimedia elements. Does the overall look and feel of the website align with your firm’s branding? 

Usability testing is about functionality, not fancy colors. It determines whether users can successfully navigate your site and accomplish their goals seamlessly. You might assess variables like page load speed, form functionality, error handling and how well users can accomplish common tasks (like finding your attorney bios page).

Both types of testing are necessary to achieve a competitive website, but we’re going to delve into design testing in this article.

The case against design testing – debunked

It’s too costly. It will undo the designer’s good work. Usability is more important

If you’ve heard these arguments against design testing, well, you’re not alone. 

You’re probably like a lot of lawyers, who are working with strict budgets and eager to launch without spending time on testing the aesthetics of something that already works. After all, what’s the point of hiring a designer if you’re going to ask a bunch of strangers to weigh in? Shouldn’t the expert designer be trusted to create something good? 

Designers should be making design decisions, but testing can help inform the designer’s process

Design testing is not a mutiny! Soliciting input from various perspectives enriches the design process. The designer should not relinquish control. Instead, design testing is more about informed decision-making and empowering the designer with insights that will improve the final design. It might be time to redesign your site, too.

Design testing can let the data speak for itself

Tempers can run hot when disagreements arise about design choices. It’s a losing battle for both parties when the partner thinks they should win just because they’re paying, and the designer thinks they should win because they’re trained.

Instead of fighting, use design testing to gather data and inform the conversation. 

Data can turn swords into plowshares. Seriously, data is the ultimate peacekeeper of the design process. With data, the designer can design and incorporate the users’ input without relying on their imagination. 

Remember, the designer should always hold the reins—but a good designer will be able to hear a user’s ideas about look and feel, extract the insights, and then translate layman’s speech into design terms and, ultimately, a website that aligns with the target market’s design needs.

Design testing clarifies the decision-making process and reveals personal preferences that don’t serve the business

Design testing can quickly devolve into personal preferences, either from the designer or from the testers—and committees tend to make terrible design choices. “Right” is not a group decision. 

If the designer is allowed to make all the decisions, they may select colors or arrangements that fit their preferences. If a group of testers is asked about what they “like”, then the testing is missing the entire point.

Design testing is about understanding which design choices elicit the desired reactions in the target audience.

User testing is tricky! You have to ask the right questions. For instance, users in design testing should be asked if they feel that the company is trustworthy and professional after viewing the design. That’s far more important than “liking” the colors.

Your designers might love the design, but the target audience might hate it. It can be hard to find this out without testing! You don’t want to go to market with something your audience will hate, even if you and your designer love it. The ONLY way to find this out is with design testing.

What your design testing should focus on exploring

The point of design testing is to understand the website’s personality and how it aligns with users’ values. You need to figure out how the design elements impact the emotional resonance. 

Focus your questions on the firm’s values and the target audience’s values, like trustworthiness, openness, clarity, confidence, friendliness and reliability. 

Here are some techniques for managing the process:

  • A/B testing: Testing two slightly different variations of the same element (A vs. B)
  • Semantic differential surveys: Rating words against other words (like does the site feel more confident or helpful)
  • Snap tests: Showing the site for a split second and then asking for initial feelings
  • Competitor comparisons: Rating your site against a competitor’s on values like reliability

One caveat: Think carefully about design testing with stakeholders. These people may be too close to the brand or the firm to be helpful.

How to get the benefits of design testing without actually doing any tests

The secret to unlocking the power of design testing with minimal effort is a meticulously crafted template website. Hint: This is also one of the cheapest ways to get a legit website.

OneFirst’s websites are the culmination of design testing insights specifically for law firms like yours. We’re actually experts in this specific niche, and our data-driven layouts are the shortcut to getting success without the guesswork (or shelling out on unnecessary design testing). From trust-inducing layouts to seamless navigation and trustworthy color schemes, OneFirst designs carry the wisdom of effective design choices. 

Customize the layout for your firm with advice from our team of designers. It’s enhancing what is already proven to work. 

Final words

Design testing is non-negotiable—but that doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. 

With OneFirst, your online presence is more than a template; it’s a testimony to the effectiveness of design testing, tailored for your ongoing legal success. 

Consult with our team after you’ve perused the gallery of templates. You could be launching an effective, affordable website for your law firm in just a few weeks. What’s holding you back?

About the Author
The team at OneFirst Legal has built websites for thousands of law firms across the United States. Fueled by data and whole lot of creativity, OneFirst helps law firms make a powerful first impression online with websites that convert visitors into clients.