While crafting a visually stunning website is important, let’s talk about the real power move: Harnessing the magic of information hierarchy. You’re not just constructing a website, after all—you’re choreographing an experience.
Site design is part art, part science. The good news is that good content hierarchy is straight-up science. Maximum impact means maximum organization.
In this post, we’ll cover how to organize your legal website for an audience that craves clarity and finesse.
Understand your audience’s goals to determine your content categories
Let’s cut to the chase: Website visitors should never feel like they’re solving a legal puzzle while navigating your pages. A prospective client should be able to click a link and immediately be greeted with the exact information they anticipated.
Satisfying your website visitors hinges on your mastery of content categories, which you can only determine once you understand your audience.
So, here’s your first step: lock eyes with your online visitor (metaphorically speaking). What do they crave? What keeps them up at night? Next, consider your website’s goals. Are you aiming to attract new clients, showcase your legal expertise, or provide resources to fellow professionals?
Now, you’re ready to begin prioritizing content categories based on their importance and relevance to your audience. Your main navigation menu should reflect this hierarchy of needs, allowing visitors to intuitively find what they’re looking for.
Limit your menu to between 5-7 options with clear descriptive titles
Imagine that your website is a treasure map, and your user is searching for what they need. Every place on your website that they might click can be marked by a user task.
User experience designers use a framework called user tasks to outline content categories, and you can use it, too. These are tasks that your online visitor wants to accomplish, such as explore your practice areas, know your backstory, gather resources, or summon you for a chat.
Based on your knowledge of your audience, create a list of five to seven user tasks.
Now, the real magic trick is in the division. It’s tempting to include every possible page in your main menu, but simplicity is key.
Group similar tasks
Start by reviewing your brain dump of user needs and then group similar tasks together. Now pull out unique user tasks. Condense this list as much as possible.
For instance, “Ask a question,” “Book a consultation,” and “Contact” are similar tasks that could be served by a single page or user action.
Try to keep the number of menu items to a manageable level (around five to seven items) to prevent overwhelming visitors.
Consider dropdown menus
If you have too many pages, consider using nested dropdown menus or grouping related pages under broader categories.
These categories are the doors your visitors will knock on. But remember, not all doors are equal. Some deserve a grand entrance, while others are more like a secret passage.
Put key information up front
Buffets create anxiety: Too much good stuff, how do I pick?
Don’t make your website visitors suffer through buffet anxiety. Instead, ensure that your website serves up the key information right up front.
Pluck the choicest morsels of content, the crown jewels of your legal prowess, and position them front and center. Your practice areas, your winning cases, your legal superpowers—these are your main courses. Highlight this information in center-stage with irresistible fonts and colors.
Your main navigation is the menu that guides visitors to the feast. Let it mirror your content hierarchy by giving your juiciest options top billing and put the rest below.
Embrace structure with clear language, subheadings, and links
Once you have your content categories nailed down, it’s time to refine the language.
Choose descriptive labels
Write clear and concise labels for your menu items. Use terms that resonate with your target audience and accurately reflect the content they’ll find under each menu item. Avoid jargon and legal terminology that might confuse visitors. For example, “Consult” is not as clear as “Contact.”
Within each page, break up the content into sections. This not only aids in readability but also enables users to scan the page and locate the information they need.
Sprinkle internal links
Internal links are good for SEO but they also help guide visitors to related content or encourage them to take action on a CTA. Include a link right there on the page with the relevant anchor text so your user can travel in one click, rather than having to navigate up to the menu and then click down to find the other page.
These structural tips not only enhance the user experience of your site but they also keep visitors engaged while encouraging them to explore more of your website.
Bonus: Offer a search function!
Even with a well-organized menu, visitors sometimes prefer to use a search function to find specific information quickly. Not all websites need a search bar, but it can be especially helpful if your site has a ton of content.
Place the search bar prominently (like in the header or at the top of the sidebar) so users can initiate a search without navigating away from their current page.
While aesthetics play a crucial role, content organization is the backbone of a successful legal website. The secret sauce is a structure that is finely tuned to your audience’s needs.
Test your website with friends and colleagues to see if you’ve nailed your content categories. Even better, purchase a custom-built website layout designed for legal professionals like you.
Where pixels meet persuasion and creativity dances with code, get a little help from the pros.