Digital Marketing, User Experience, Web Design

By Sam Ballinger

Simply put, a ‘user’ is a person who visits your website. And in the legal industry, most of your users have a legal problem they need to resolve. Enter you, the attorney. The one who can help fix or alleviate those problems with a number of solutions – a reduced sentence, dismissed charges, even money.

But how do you turn your users into clients? SEO gets them on the site, a strong brand makes you reputable, but what can you do to gain their trust and enhance their onsite experience? And how can you keep them engaged and persuade them to pick up the phone and call your firm?

One way is to be more relatable. This doesn’t mean sitting backward in a chair and saying things like, “I’m just like you” (in fact, I’d strongly advise against this). It is less about saying that you know what they’re going through, and more about proving that you do. This requires a deeper dive into your users’ problems – both directly and indirectly related to their legal issue – and providing a solution, or persuading them that you have one every step of the way.

Defining Direct & Indirect User Problems

Do you remember the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? A mouse is hungry (a problem) so someone gives him a cookie (a solution). However, we all know this isn’t how the story ends. The cookie makes the mouse thirsty so he’s given milk; the glass is hard to drink out of so he’s given a straw; he makes a mess with the milk so he’s given a napkin, and so on.

So what does a children’s book written 35 years ago have to do with our users? 

Even though the mouse faced a series of problems (15 to be exact), someone provided a solution for each one – making a journey riddled with problems a satisfying one. But the most interesting thing about this story isn’t that one problem was resolved – it’s that all of them were. Even when they had nothing to do with the original problem.

Direct Problems

Direct problems are the legal-related problems your users are facing. However, in the legal industry, we tend to only scratch the surface and focus on the ones we can resolve after they’ve become a client – not the ones we can solve for them while they’re on the site.

For example, “I’ve been charged with a DUI” is a problem you can solve for a client, where “I’m afraid others will find out about my DUI” is a problem you can solve for both clients and users. To prove that you can solve client problems, you need to understand the various problems they may be experiencing and solve as many on your site as possible.

One method to better define these problems and identify which ones you should focus on solving is to pick a problem and ask ‘why is that a problem?’ until you no longer have an answer. 

It could look something like this:

  • Main Problem: I’ve been charged with a DUI
  • Why is that a problem? Because I don’t want to lose my license.
  • Why is that a problem? Because I don’t want to rely on others to drive me around
  • Why is that a problem? Because I’m afraid they’ll find out that I have a DUI

Now we have 4 different ways to describe a problem, in the way they are likely discussing it with their friends and family. Ultimatley, it boils down to one problem, ‘fear’. Your clients are afraid, and those fears can be reduced, and even eliminated if you’re addressing their problems in a more relatable way.

Indirect Problems

Indirect problems are unrelated to a user’s legal problems, but still impact their onsite experience. “I have a slow internet connection,” “my kids are making noises in the background,” and “my doorbell just rang so I need to step away from my computer for a second” are all examples of indirect problems. 

Unfortunately, you can’t stop them from happening but that’s not to say we can’t provide a solution.

People are always busy and constantly distracted, so why would we assume that our users are giving us their full attention?

So what can we do? The answer is actually right in front of you. Take a step back and observe your own space and surroundings for a minute. How many tabs or windows do you have up on your screen? If you’re reading this on your phone, how’s your battery life? What about your surroundings, do you have kids in the background making noise? A dog that needs let out?

These are all potential problems your users are struggling with while visiting your site. And even if you aren’t currently experiencing any of the problems you write down, it’s possible your users are. A good rule of thumb is to assume that your users are going to be distracted by at least one thing between the time they land on your site, until the time they exit.

How to Solve Our Users’ Problems

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of direct and indirect problems on your list, don’t worry. We can’t possibly solve them all. But we can do better by digging just a little deeper and attempting to solve more in both the way we write our words and display images and graphics on the page

Copy – Talk WITH Your Audience, Not TO Them

Users need two main questions answered before they make a decision to hire you: “How can you help me?”, and “are you the person I can trust to help me?”

Drill their problems down until you find the root of how they’re actually feeling. Write in a way that eases that emotion, but talking about their problems in a natural language they understand and can relate to. 

Design – Assume Everyone is Distracted

We’re in a constant state of distraction, and it’s no different for your users. Believe it or not, they’re not sitting in a quiet room with all the time in the world to learn about your firm. 

Include the most important information up top and emphasize it in a way that lets users know that if they only see one thing on your site, this is it. And don’t be afraid to introduce one thing at a time. Mobile usage outweighs desktop in just about every industry, including legal, so your users are most likely viewing things one at a time anyway. Gone are the days of trying to fill every nook and cranny on your site for fear that your users will miss something. 

And lastly, white space, or clear space is your friend – not your enemy. Creating space around something on your site puts that bit of information in focus for users. It tells them that this section is important, and removes anything on the site that might distract their attention away from it. 

Conclusion

As much as it pains us to admit, people care more about how a service or product benefits them more than they care about the company selling the service or product. If you need proof, just think of your own shopping experience. How often do you buy something for the sole purpose of making the business happier? Be honest…

They come to your site because they have a problem they need resolved. They want you to be the one who can solve it. The harder we work to understand their problems and provide them with solutions, the more likely we are to turn more users into clients. 

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