Nearly 10% of top 100 law firms launched new websites in Q2 2017. See what’s new.By Joe Walsh
August 15, 2017
Reviews of the 9 new websites, drawn from our catalog of the largest 100 law firm sites, reveal new trends. See the 9 below with a quick review of what we liked about each.
For a broader perspective, please spend some time on our sitevisitsSM research microsite. It catalogs 200 professional service firm websites and provides the latest dish on professional service firm web design, content and development trends.
Among the rare air of truly international law firms, Freshfields provides a fresh take on the benefits of its global work: “finding clarity in cross border complexity to help clients make the right decisions in a fast changing world.” A small suite of powerful (if word dominated) case studies prove the promise on the firm’s new website. Other features of the new we like are the improved attorney bios and photos (2,800, imagine the logistics planning in that). Also admirable is the simplicity of the firm’s vast services and industry list being summed up in three phases: “helping you grow,” “strengthening your business,” and “giving you the best defence.”
The newly refreshed sidley.com continues to promise talent, teamwork and results in all the firm does with clients, opposing counsel and among its professionals (full disclosure: we like this promise as we were involved in articulating the position in a brand strategy project a few years back). We also like how Sidley gives proof to the promise with notable rankings, client engagements and landmark outcomes. The design, content and overall feel is utilitarian in a good way. Its easy to use, to the point and respectful of people’s time.
Right off the bat, we learn GT means go-to, offering “advisors and resources for real world legal questions.” While the templates from section-to-section and page-to-page are consistent and follow new site design conventions, our eye is attracted to the movement of headlines, images, copy and such throughout the site. It’s a fluid and pleasing user experience that breaks staid conventions. We also like the simple information graphic on the home page that plots the firm's ascension over a relatively short period of time. One assumes GT is doing many thing right to fuel its growth into the go-to ranks.
Skadden delivers polished and understated leadership online— the firm’s marquee credentials and client stories are underplayed on the site but underplayed, perhaps, because they do not feel the need to say more. On the leadership front, the navigation of the site is simple and streamlined. You are greeted by the big three: Capabilities, Professionals and Insights and not distracted by more. There are other exemplary user experience touches in navigation—scroll down any interior page and the firm name changes out to reveal a cookie crumb of where you are. A subnavigation bar on internal pages helps a user get to content without heavy scrolling.
The new design for reedsmith.com is contemporary and, in ways, progressive, particularly among law firm websites. The site aligns with the firm’s promise, “Driving progress through partnerships.” We particulary like Reed Smith’s approach to content marketing. While many law firms remain focused on publishing and distributing every-firm legal alerts, Reed has gone a step further—emulating the big consulting firm marketing model. Titles like New Realities in the Health Care and Life Sciences Industry, The Leadership Pathways Research Report and Data Breach Incidents: What You Need to Know, rise a level above every day e-alerts. Nice progress.
Beginning from the inside and working outwards, King & Spaulding’s professional biographies are impressive. The photography is first rate and the varying color backgrounds are unique. The modular approach to bio content is convincing—handling lots of substance—without overwhelming the visitor. This impressiveness, particularly in delivering content, extends sitewide. We like the careers videos which have high production values and tell good stories (a hallmark of strong marketing). Ditto for the about us video that welcomes people to the firm. Compared to the old website, the new comes across as top shelf, assured and approachable.
While employing a different design aesthetic, Alston makes effective use of modular, scrolling content design that is popular — for good reason — on well put together, modern professional service firm sites. This trend tracks to the behaviors we’ve grown accustomed to in using our phones and tablets. Cramming everything above the fold is no longer needed. Like others, Alston.com puts the focus on the big three in navigation — professionals, services and news/insights. Kudos to the firm for its new biography photos with lawyers shot in office environments across the firm.
We like the client focused messaging of the Hunton & Williams website. This starts on the home page and extends everywhere. When you visit, you are greeted with “Aligned with your business” over a navigatable graphic featuring the cross disciplinary challenges Hunton helps client tackle. The interactive graphic delivers pertinent content. Industry focus in in vogue for law firms, yet Hunton goes deeper in explaining its purpose under about: “It’s our business to know your business. Not just your industry, or the competitive landscape in which you operate, but the intricacies of your operations, the workings of your organizational structure and the many challenges that you may face.”
We like the how Bracewell leads with a short list of industries served (energy, technology, finance) and backs the industry-centric approach with searchable industry knowledge centers. This kind of simple navigation and filtered search throughout the site are one of the bracewell.com’s strong points. A colorful, five-sided, abstract pentagon greets the visitor and travels with you on every page. Its not quite a logo but a piece of Bracewell’s new visual identity on the website, and, we suspect, beyond.