Does Your Website Homepage Get an F? It should.

So, you’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money to get clients, potential clients and referral partners to visit your website. This might be a waste of money and effort. If your law firm website is like most other firm’s sites, 2 of every 3 visitors stay less than 30 seconds and “click out” of your site because they can’t quickly find the information that they are looking for. Obviously there are several reasons for this alarming trend- both content-related, and layout-related. I’m not going to get into the content-related reasons here (though I do discuss these here), but one thing is for sure – visitors are not going to hunt through your website for the information they are looking for. While there’s no question that you need the right content to keep visitors on the site, and convert them to clients, there has been a lot of research over the last few years focusing on how website visitors actually interact and read your website content. One of the leading web design gurus, Jakob Nielson, has done in-depth studies and had determined that a majority of readers scan websites in an “F-shaped” pattern. That is, they quickly read the top of the website, scanning left to right horizontally. Next, they move down the page and scan horizontally left to right in a shorter movement. Finally, they quickly scan the left side of the website from top-to-bottom. In looking at these three patterns together, they form the capital letter “F”. Obviously, there are several factors that help influence how visitors view a webpage but, from this study, several things are clear:

  • Users typically don’t read your copy word-for-word.

  • The first couple of paragraphs are the most important.

  • Sentences and bullets must start with information-carrying words.

We all get caught in the trap of being overly verbose and descriptive. There is a time and place for this, but it’s not necessarily on the home page – especially when you need to capture interest quickly. Take a critical eye to your site design – but from the perspective of a visitor who is not going to read all of your content. This may help you identify changes that will help you keep your visitors and convert them to clients.