When drafting copy for a website, law firms often tend to employ legal industry jargon that may be difficult for prospective clients to understand. They may also describe successes using terms of art that are not meaningful to site visitors. While writing clear and understandable website copy in plain English (using active verbs) can be challenging, investing the time to do so can pay dividends in terms of increased visitor engagement and better conversion of visits into leads.
The usability expects at Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) offer 3 essential guidelines for writing what they call "user-centric" website copy.
#1: Focus on the Benefits of Using the Product or Service, not the Features
NNG observes that lists of service or product features don’t attract readers, because the terms and phrases used to describe them aren’t always easily understandable. In a nutshell, users want to know what the product or service will do for them, and they don’t care about technical terms.
For law firms, this means highlighting industries in which the law firm has a track record, rather than long lists of practice areas, the names of which may not always be meaningful to clients.
For example, if a firm has extensive experience handling commercial litigation on behalf of businesses in different industries, it is worthwhile to identify the industries that the firm has represented (e.g., aviation, real estate, pharmaceutical, entertainment, etc.). When a prospective clients see their industries mentioned, they'll feel much more confident that the firm can meet their needs.
#2: Use Words People Can Relate to, Instead of Industry or Business Jargon
NNG notes that website copywriters often use the language they are most familiar with when describing offerings on websites, without realizing that those terms are unknown to their readers.
For example, in describing a litigation success, a firm might explain that it obtained an award of summary judgment on behalf of its client. However, the success might better be communicated to prospective clients not familiar with legal jargon by explaining:
Defeated lawsuit demanding $10 million in damages from our client and avoided the cost of a lengthy trial with a winning motion for summary judgment.
#3: Speak to Your Readers, not at Them
Stated simply, this guideline teaches copywriters to avoid using such as “our clients” to indirectly refer to visitors, and instead using words such as “you” and “we” to make the copy more personable and accessible.
Click here to read the full NNG article.