5 key UX challenges in the legal sector

Lorcan O'Connor,

Here at 26, our Experience Design team knows a thing or two about the legal sector. Legal sites need to perform well in the ‘sniff test’ – short visits to gauge trust and experience – should avoid jargon and minimise friction when finding the right person to contact.

Taking insights gathered from quantitative and qualitative research methods, including surveys, Google Analytics, stakeholder workshops, tree testing and usability lab testing, we’ve summarised the 5 key experience challenges that we’ve worked alongside our legal clients to overcome: 

Challenge 1: High quality, consistent branding and imagery

Major law firms are rarely natives to digital. The authority of their brand offline is squandered by the online experience, leaving them open to disruption by smaller firms.

A memorable, contemporary design (particularly with bespoke, professional imagery showing real people) will convey trust and prestige. ‘Cheesy’ stock images and inconsistent branding on the other hand can actively harm the perception of the brand.

example of stock legal image

Image source: Henein Hutchison

We recommend:

Challenge 2: Copywriting – lean, jargon free, value-led and supported by proof

Frustration with long, complicated copy was a recurring theme in our research. As digital latecomers, law firms must be hyper aware that users ‘read 25% slower onscreen and skim rather than read’ when writing their content.  

The user is looking for an expert, but they will not have the same understanding of the law and related jargon:

"We expect you to know the law; what we really want to know is how you can help"

We recommend:

  • Cut to at least 50% of the copy used offline
  • Use a ‘pyramid’ structure, starting with succinct scannable bullet points 
  • Resist the urge to ‘impress’ with complex words and legal jargon
  • Convey value propositions and USPs
  • Support assertions with recent 3rd party social proof for trust
  • Testing comprehension and scannability of content

Challenge 3: Signposting to relevant content for each audience and sector

Law firms can have a huge range of services and several distinct key audiences and sectors. Furthermore, each audience may require content written for their needs, so a service like immigration law may require a unique page for private individuals, major corporates and SMEs. 

Users desired immediate, prominent signposting to services grouped for each audience and sector:

“We expect you to know the law; what we really want to know is how you can help"

We recommend: 

  • Prominently linking to services segmented by audience type and by sector
  • Tree testing the proposed information architecture 
  • Usability testing a prototype before development to validate assumptions

Challenge 4: Finding the right contact

Finding a lawyer is one of the key red routes for most law firms - it’s their expertise that the user will be paying for. Strong imagery of people upfront is also important, providing the ‘scent of information’ to lawyer profiles.

Effective searching and filtering by name, role and seniority is crucial, whereas older sites rely often on a A-Z directory that depends on knowing the lawyer’s name in advance.

We recommend:

  • Including images of lawyers and people upfront, linking to people search and profiles
  • Fine tune searching and filtering of people results across devices

Challenge 5: Robust lawyer profiles with succinct history, awards, experience and publications

After the homepage, lawyer profiles are one of the most viewed area on the site. Clear call-to-actions to contact by phone, email, office and relevant team members are essential:

“I’ll quickly scan through the summary to assess industry experience then decide if I want to get in touch”

We recommend:

  • Ensuring profiles are very lean, organised and consistent
  • Demonstrating relevant experience, supporting with case studies, awards and publications
  • Ensuring contact CTAs are obvious and persistent
  • Testing key templates such as profile pages

If you’re looking to optimise your user experience, we offer a range of services from user research and workshops, to usability audits and testing, including advanced neuromarketing techniques.

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