‘Big Feet’ Are Good in Law Firm Web Design

When I hear “big feet” I think about not being able to fit into Jimmy Choos. And that makes me sad. But when it comes to Web design, big feet, or footers, are actually a good thing. A modern footer, which is like a mini site map at the bottom of each web page, has become increasingly popular to improve site navigation and provide for a better overall user experience. So let me ask you this: How big are your feet?

Back when everybody stayed above the fold

Footers used to be small so viewers could avoid scrolling. Remember having to click on the scroll bar and drag it downward to see the rest of a page? What a hassle. No wonder we tried to cram everything onto a single visible screen, calling it “above the fold”—a leftover from newspaper days. Changes in hardware, particularly swiping features on trackpads and tablets, and tapping the spacebar on computers, loosened the physical limits of longer pages. As a result, we are no longer as constrained on page length.

Convenience is key

This is great news for usability. One of the major benefits of a big footer is always having a convenient site map at your fingertips. Since a law firm website has many audiences—clients, prospects, potential new hires, the media and alumni—you can’t expect them all to be looking for the same information. The big footer is just one way to make it easier. Those who prefer can still use top-level navigation and drop-down menus to find what they want, but they can also just look to the bottom of the page. This means visitors are more likely to stay on your site longer and visit more pages.

Mega-big footers?

As with most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to building big footers. If they are too big, perhaps mega-big, they can actually thwart navigation. Too many layers and lists of links make all the information start to blend together into a confusing mass. There are a few ways to avoid this pitfall, such as editing down the amount of links to display. For law firms, this could mean only displaying top-level pages rather than drilling all the way down to subpages in the footer. Some mega-footer pitfalls can also be managed with clever designs. For example, it is important to show a hierarchy of links with the headings differentiated from the rest of the list. These headings will grab the eye and quickly draw attention to the desired pages.

Don't forget social media 

Finally, especially if your firm is active on social media sites, consider adding social media links and even feeds to your footer. This will encourage visitors to engage and connect with your firm. After all, 67 percent of general counsel checked LinkedIn in the past week, according to a recent new media engagement survey. Take a look at your firm’s website and ask yourself how easy it is to locate your firm’s LinkedIn page from your homepage. If the answer is “not so easy,” consider dropping a link into the footer. Since your firm’s website is often the first way a prospect learns about your firm and the best tool for your clients to tap into your thought leadership, making your key information easy to find and access is one of the best ways to make a good impression.

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Reprinted with permission from the MARCH 18, 2014 edition of the Law Technology News © 2013 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-257-3382 or reprints@alm.com.

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