We are finding ourselves increasingly involved in the legal sector. Designing and building sites for a range of law firms and barristers’ chambers. It’s been an education, designing for an industry whose services span such a wide range of industrial sectors is certainly a challenge.
We have collated this showcase of the top 20 UK law websites to get an idea of the current law firm trends on the web.
The following companies are listed as the top 20 UK law firms on Wikipedia (20/6/2011).
1 – Clifford Chance
Definitely one of the most visually appealing sites in the showcase. The big boys are certainly setting the mark. Clean geometric design, clear messaging and structure, simple yet engaging interactive features.
2 – Linklaters
Linklaters have taken a standard corporate feel. Simple effective navigation, good prioritisation of key areas, clean layout, neutral business people imagery.
3 – Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Run of the mill corporate law site. Clean, blue and simple. The key areas practice areas, sectors and people are visible on the home page dashboard.
4 – Allen & Overy
The one to work for, setting the mark in a lot of legal sectors. The site is still performing well even though it has been around for quite some time. Transparent positioning statement in the header, simple navigation, strong insight focus, clear highlighting of the deals and news.
5 – DLA Piper
An extremely successful firm with a site which tries to get their scope across. The information is there and is presented clearly.
6 – Hogan Lovells
Lovells has worked hard on their brand and it shows. Modern fresh feel, good positioning of key deals, clear navigation and decent prioritisation of content. They are playing heavily on the quality and scale of their work and include strong imagery.
7 – Herbert Smith
The header area is simple and clear, with a nice brand. The imagery is a bit generic and could do with some clear transparent positioning. The globe could be altered to give more of an international feel.
8 – Eversheds
Effective use of white space. Good positioning statements in the banner. Nice use of push points in the right hand column.
9 – Norton Rose
Clear positioning statement in and below the banner area. Priority placement of people search. Map displaying international scope.
10 – Ashurst
Nice logo, simple layout. Standard use of stock imagery, but over all appealing.
11 – Simmons & Simmons
Clean brand, good positioning and vibrant use of colour. Lots of push points pulling users through to the key areas which may be diluting some hooks.
12 – CMS Cameron McKenna
Good structure and content. Light feel but slightly text heavy.
13 – Pinsent Masons
Nice logo and a clear international scope. Transparent positioning, text heavy.
14 – Bird & Bird
Simple, clean and good use of imagery with clear, transparent positioning. Similar to Norton Rose and a few others. Good positioning of the people search and key notifications.
16 – Clyde & Co
Traditional city firm with imagery to match. Clean layout.
17 – Berwin Leighton Paisner
Clean navigation and good positioning in the banner. Clear push points. Looking pretty good.
18 – Taylor Wessing
The light green / pastel feel of the Taylor Wessing site gives it a medical feel. Nice clean structure and top level navigation is spot on: sectors, practice areas, reach & people. Clear notification for news. Good hooks below banner area with interesting and current themes.
19 – SJ Berwin
The page has clear navigation and transparent positioning. There may be too much priority given to the images slide show and the initial world looks a little dated.
20 – Addleshaw Goddard
Clean, clear navigation, good branding although could require some transparent positioning statement.
The law firms above have focused on 5 key areas, some with different levels of prioritisation:
- Positioning and scope
- Industry and company insights and idea based approach
- Practice areas and sectors
Clean simple branding across the board portraying efficiency and professionalism.
Positioning & Scope
Transparency is key in a service industry. The majority of law forms display it very clearly but in an industry which is used to dealing with large amounts of information sites can easily get text heavy. The majority of users will just scan the home page so it is better to tell them what you are as quickly and clearly as possible.
Industry / Company Insights & Idea Based Approach
Industry and company insights project an active and knowledgeable brand to users, effectively increasing the standard of the firms offerings.
The presentation of creative / ideas based approached seems to be quite popular. This is probably to push the brand away from the general sterile perception of the law industry as a whole.
Practice Areas & Sectors
Clear offerings are key and giving users an idea of what you could do in their sector is extremely important. Generally there are a lot of practice areas and sectors and each firm labels and groups them differently. It is crucial for them to be transparent and as clear as possible, which is not always the case.
Essentially the people who form a company are a key part of the site and statistically can rank amongst the most visited areas. It is important to make them as accessible as possible and to display the profile data clearly and simply.
It is good to make sure the profiles information is continued throughout the site and easily accessible through related content such as insights, practice areas and sectors.