Law Firm Website ROI: Set Goals and Metrics to Measure the User Experience
Law firms invest considerable resources in the design, development, and maintenance of their websites in order to engage more clients. However, the user experience is too often forgotten, which means the firm’s investment is being wasted.
A poor website user experience impacts a person’s overall impression of a law firm. A potential client might think: “If their website is this disorganized and difficult to use, what will it be like to actually have the firm represent me?” Or a potential recruit may wonder: “Why would I join this firm? They don’t look like they are part of this century.” Or an employee may feel: “I work very hard for the firm and our website really doesn’t represent the quality organization we have. I’m embarrassed.”
In working with law firms to improve their websites, I’ve noticed a common issue: user experience goals were never set at the onset of the project. As a result, user experience metrics were never measured and, not surprisingly, the user experience suffers. To prevent this, I recommend establishing and measuring user experience goals using the following six steps.
Use research for a comprehensive understanding of who your users are, what they need, and how that aligns with your business goals. Before a website redesign, there should be a consensus on your users and their goals, motivations, and preconceptions. This information should be based on user research—talking to and observing current and potential users.
Law firm websites usually have several different personas (clients, potential recruits, and the internal team). Aligning the law firm’s business goals with the goals of each persona is critical for the website’s success. Because a law firm’s website will not be the only touchpoint in making a final decision to engage with the firm, I strongly recommend creating customer journeys to thoroughly understand each persona’s experience from touchpoint to touchpoint, both online and offline.
Set user experience goals for a website redesign. You can’t measure the success of the website redesign if you don’t establish goals. And, if you didn’t establish goals for your previous website, it’s hard to know what you’re improving upon. Many law firm website redesigns are initiated because the old site was so out-of-date that there is a rush to update the visual design and technology. Because aesthetics and a new content management system aren’t enough to create a positive user experience, you need to meld your business goals with the user needs you identified through user research.
For example, you know your potential client persona, a general counsel at a Fortune 500 company, hires outside firms that have demonstrated expertise in a certain practice area. In an effort to bring in business, one of your firm’s goals is to become a thought leader in that practice area. This translates to a user experience goal of increasing the articles and webinars that potential clients consume or sign up for in that practice area.
Identify what can be measured to show you’re making progress towards your goals. Once you’ve identified that one of your user experience goals is to have potential clients consume thought leadership in a certain practice area, you need to decide what you can measure that signals you’re making progress towards that goal.
Marketers refer to these as conversions, pre-defined goals that the user achieves on the website. Macro conversions relate directly to the goals of the site and often require more than one visit to the website, as well as other online/offline interactions. Micro conversions indicate smaller, incremental progress towards these goals. Both are important to measure.
Identify how you’ll measure the metrics. After you’ve identified the key macro and micro conversions, you’ll decide how and when to measure these. Ideally, this measurement is done before, during, and after the redesign.
Prior to a website redesign, you can use an analytics audit to identify potential issues. These could be failure to meet previously established goals: users aren’t signing up for events, aren’t viewing articles, or aren’t visiting certain pages. You can then conduct usability tests—asking representative users to perform pre-defined tasks—to understand why these goals aren’t being met. Through these, you can establish benchmarks for performance metrics such as task success and efficiency, as well as self-reported metrics such as ease-of-use and other subjective measures. You can also conduct usability studies on your competitors’ websites to see how your website compares.
Use your findings to inform your website redesign and redefine your goals. During the redesign process, conduct usability tests to ensure users are able to successfully perform the tasks that lead to conversions. Conducing usability tests now ensures you don’t spend development resources building a website that has a poor user experience that will not help you achieve your goals.
You only need five representative users to reveal the majority of issues. Depending on your goals, these tasks could include identifying first impressions, ensuring users can identify the firm’s key practice areas, and ensuring users can sign up for a webinar. Redesign the site based on your findings.
Continue testing and optimizing. Measuring and optimizing is an ongoing, cyclical process. Prior to launching, set up the conversion goals in your analytics tool, so you can start measuring as soon as the site is launched.
After the launch of the new website, review your analytics on a regular basis to measure your progress. Track and categorize any feedback you receive about the website. Based on these, you’ll have insight into what is happening—but not how. At this point, it’s important to conduct additional rounds of usability testing to ensure you are correctly identifying problems and optimizing the site to increase your conversion rates.
In summary, by not establishing and measuring user experience goals, you have an expensive digital property that sucks up time and resources with little return on investment. Law firms do not conduct business with disregard to ROI, and their digital property should not be the exception.