Here’s the next stream of consciousness post on elements that make for a user friendly website. This one is straightforward – display your contact information clearly and prominently on every page. While you may want to have a mailing address block at the bottom of the page (which is fine)…in my view (again…this is just my opinion, you are perfectly free to ignore me) you want to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to pick up the phone or add you to their email address book. What I like (and it drives our creative team nuts – which is part of why I like it … shhhh) is to have the firm contact information displayed at the top of the page either with the logo or in the upper right hand corner…and I like that on EVERY page. Some might argue that this is overkill when you already have a Contact page built into your nav BUT…not so if the point of the exercise is to make life easy for people who may be looking for your services. In the legal context in particular, I would argue that if someone is looking for a lawyer they are probably in a state of either anxiety or excitement and want to find information fast. Clicking around your site trying to find out how to contact you is not going to be as appealing as the spoon feeding approach. Also, they are looking at your site searching for key words that match the issue or problem they need to resolve. You have no idea where on your site they will be when they find what they are looking for and decide they want to contact you. If the contact info is right there…it’s one less thing they have to think about.
A word about Contact pages. Some might say (damn proverbial peanut gallery) “Why have a Contact page at all if you are going to put the information on every page.” Welllll, for me a Contact page serves more than one purpose. When I go to a law firm’s Contact page I am usually looking for their office location (ye old Google Map), some sort of imagery of their office building (first impressions), so I know what to look for if I’m going to meet with them. If it’s available I might also use Google’s new “drag me to the street” tool to get a look at the neighbourhood – I like to meet clients in context (it’s handy to know what else is close by that might be used to create a destination or provide people with reference landmarks). For those of you who haven’t tried it…go to Google Maps and type in your office address. When the map comes up look for the little yellow stick person on the nav — looks this:
So, while I like a phone number that is easily accessible (please don’t make me scroll to the bottom of the page and read teeny tiny print) I also think a well designed Contact page is a valuable tool to increase client familiarity and, by extension, comfort levels with your firm. Finally, for what it’s worth, to me a Contact page is the place for all extra detail…9 times out of 10 I’ve been on the phone or contacted the firm by email before I ever visit the Contact page.