Lawyers, Your Face Doesn’t Belong on Your Homepage

By Eric Maas on 9 May, 2024

Personal branding is important for lawyers and law firms, we do not want to take anything away from that. However, when prospective clients land on a law firm’s website they are seeking a bridge connecting their needs with the solutions they seek. This is not about you, and this is not about your law firm. This is about making the client feel understood, reassured, and confident in their choice of legal representation. A well-designed, client-focused website is a powerful tool in achieving this goal, and its impact should not be underestimated in today’s digital-driven world.

Creating a Client-Centric Law Firm Website

While a lot of attorneys out there are thinking that it might seem beneficial to include a personal touch, I want to remind you that this is not about you, and that there are compelling reasons why attorneys should reconsider this approach. This is about focusing on the client’s needs, rather than the attorney’s image, to create a more impactful and client-centric online presence. Adobe ai generated image terms, “stereo typical Attorney with a ridiculous amount of military awards, ribbons, ribbon devices, badges, and medal racks pinned on their suit like they were a boy scout”

This is About Them, Not You

Unless you are from a generation not exposed to mass advertising, we all tend to think in terms of advertising that we have the most exposure to, consumer marketing. Where Traditional Consumer Marketing concentrates on building brand/product awareness or seller attributes, digital marketing for lawyers and service based industries concentrates on conversion and immediate resolution to potential new client problems. Websites are not billboards, there is a very big key difference in how the two advertising tools work. Billboards are not direct response advertising, a website can be and often is. People don’t want to know how it works they want to know why they need it. Additionally digital marketing also adds an instant gratification component to this which makes this, tell me why I need it and I’ll take it now. Which in the world of attorney lead generation equals emails and phone calls. The primary goal of your website is to address the needs and concerns of potential clients. Clients visit law firm websites seeking solutions to their legal problems, not to learn about the lawyers’ achievements or personal stories. By keeping the focus on the clients and how you can assist them, the website becomes a tool of engagement and assurance, rather than a self-promotion platform.

Professionalism over Personality

While personal branding is important, in the legal industry, professionalism and expertise should take precedence. Clients are looking for evidence of competence, experience, and trustworthiness. Detailed descriptions of your services, client testimonials, and case studies are more effective in establishing credibility than personal photographs.

Focus Groups and Studies

Over the 20 years that we have been practicing web design, development, and SEO for lawyers we have collected a lot of data from our clients. In addition we have worked with firms that have hired focus groups for consumer facing law firms. In two of these focus groups the topic about photos of the attorney on landing pages came up. When asked whether anyone in the group felt reassured or connected to the firm by displaying photos with attorneys posing or group photos of the law firm, a significant number of the group responded to facial expressions, perceived body language, stereotypes, and other generalization. When asked if they felt reassured or connected to the firm by a photo of a local landmark the response held little to no judgment, and comments were generalizations about the niceties of landmarks and some even had fond memories recalled from time spent at the landmarks. These focus groups leaned into people wanting to know they had the best representation, but when pressed on the merit of education, awards, and honors, the sample groups put their own personal qualifiers in front of merit and education qualifiers, and ultimately the problem at hand was ranked higher in priority than merit and education. The responses to branded messaging were not weighted with importance, where helping statements targeted the clients needs were prioritized by the group. We applied much of what we learned in these groups with data we collected. Here is what we learned:
  1. First Impressions Matter The home page and landing pages of your website are the first points of contact with potential clients. A website with staff photos can detract from solutions focused messaging. A client-centric call to action is the best way to attract clients.  Maintaining an organized professional layout with easy-to-navigate information about your services will make a stronger and more relevant first impression.
  2. Perception Most of us work to push through stereotypes and judgements, but at the end of the day not everyone can push past preconceived bias, good or bad. It is best to remove as much bias as possible and focus on the message you want to convey as part of your first impression and warm up to your sales pitch.
  1. Speak Their Language Let’s repeat the mantra, “this is not about you”. Your website should immediately address the concerns and questions of potential clients. Use language that resonates with them, focusing on how your services can resolve their legal issues. Avoid legal jargon up front and create content that is accessible and reassuring. This is not to say that legal jargon cannot be defined and simplified, but understand that it can be a barrier to a strong first impression.
  2. Highlight Solutions, Not Processes Clients are more interested in outcomes than the intricacies of legal procedures. Your website should highlight how you can help them achieve their goals, rather than the details of how legal processes work. This approach makes the content more relatable and less intimidating for non-legal visitors.
  3. Testimonials and Success Stories Including client testimonials and success stories can be far more persuasive than personal photographs. They provide real-life examples of how you have helped others, which can be a powerful tool in establishing trust and credibility.
  4. Educational Content Providing valuable information, such as blog posts or FAQs, can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in your field. This educational content is a subtle way of showing your proficiency without overt self-promotion.
  5. Professional Design While personal photos may not be ideal, the visual aspect of your website is still crucial. A professionally designed site with a clean, modern layout conveys a sense of efficiency and attention to detail. Use visuals that relate to your field, such as legal symbols or cityscapes, to create an appropriate aesthetic.
  6. User Experience (UX) A website that is easy to navigate and user-friendly is more likely to engage potential clients. Focus on creating a seamless user experience with clear calls to action, easy-to-find contact information, and a layout that guides visitors through your site.
In the world of SEO this is not just about your potential client, this is about Google and search. SEO should be treating Google as a user on your site, and building a value add experience for search engines.

Your Photo Has a Place on Your Website

Data from the websites we manage shows “About Us” pages typically being ranked in the Top 10-15 most trafficked pages on our customer’s sites, but not in the top 5. The user journeys are often different for different practice areas and client needs. In more sensitive areas like criminal defense attorneys the subject is very sensitive and communicating your morals or mission in support of the brand’s image works to compound trust with the potential new client. Trust is a good thing and trust indicators help push leads to reach out. User journeys for personal injury attorneys suggests that users are less concerned with profiles and more often visit “Case Results” pages where the size of settlements are often listed. Estate Planning attorneys have user journeys that vary as well and can sometimes lead users on paths that are more structured around specific needs to their life or family. However, having a thorough Team Page and Individual Lawyer Bio’s are important to instill trust with more discerning consumers. These are the potential clients that are going to spend more time on your website regardless and should not be given priority over the first impressions of serving solutions to their problems. This is why that data supports “About Us” pages as a Top 15 issue and not a Top 3 issue for potential new clients. While the decision to exclude personal photographs from the home page or landing page of a law firm’s website is a strategic one. It prioritizes professionalism, focuses on client needs, and maintains a formal, respectful atmosphere suitable for the legal industry. By shifting the focus from the attorney to the client, law firms can create a more effective and engaging online presence that resonates with their target audience. Oh, and lastly, this is not about you.