LFM 2014 BigLaw Report: Law Firms Stepping up Design with Smartphone Mobile Web Sites
When Law Firm Mobile started its mobile web survey two years ago, many law firm mobile sites shared the same mediocre design interface. Fortunately, since then, a number of law firms have put some time and effort into the design of their mobile websites, making the websites more distinctive, and, in some cases, making their mobile sites easier to use.
In this installment of our 2014 LFM BigLaw Report, we describe a number of the different design approaches used by these more design-oriented law firms.
Good Use of the Basics. While not an award-winning approach, varying the text font and color scheme along with the firm’s logo can offer a differentiated mobile experience with the brand look-and-feel of a firm. For example, Andrews Kurth presents a nice clean look with a white background and a simple black font with green highlight elements. Vory’s too has a white background but presents a different feel with its blue-gray logo and larger fonts. Shepard Mullin uses a white background for its logo, but presents its navigation elements with white text on a blue background that compliments the text in the firm logo. Quinn Emanuel presents its navigation as explicit horizontal buttons, along with a gray background with white bold letters and green highlights.
A Central Graphic Element on the Home Page. Some firms create visual appeal with a prominent graphic element (usually a picture). Alston & Bird presents a large graphic image as the focus point of its mobile website. The image is horizontally scrollable and under the image is a button to search for attorneys. Chapman & Cutler presents a smaller graphic image that leaves room for 6 navigation buttons underneath. Dickstein Shapiro presents a large graphic image taking up most of the screen, but the image is actually placed as background to a large white text box, with various rotating experience or PR items. Like Alston & Bird, these items are horizontally scrollable.
Keeping it Simple — Google Style. One firm, Allens Authur Robinson, has taken a very simple approach — akin to Google’s search home page. The main item on the mobile website home page is essentially a search box. The challenge in this approach is the implementation. Unfortunately, the results of searches on Allen’s website do not present the most relevant, easy-to-identify results.
Limiting Navigation Elements. Similar in concept to Allens Author Robinson but not at stark, a number of firms present a limited number of content types/navigation choices from the home page. Reducing the choices for the user can lead to a significantly better user experience. Ice Miller uses this approach, but unfortunately, the firm devotes more than one-third of its screen space to some general text. Cozen O’Connor’s site has a nice clean look with limited choices: people, practice areas, offices, and about . The firm uses nicely sized buttons making the home page easy to navigate. Kelly Drye presents three main navigation elements: “Find an Attorney” “Find an Office” and “Find an Event”. (Are mobile users really interested in finding a specific event?)
Six Pack Approach. Two firms, Katten Muchin and Munger Tolles & Olson, have taken a “six pack” approach with a 2 x 3 set of square buttons, each button presenting a main navigation item. Both designs present very nicely and are very usable. Even though the two firms have a similar structure, they still present uniquely.
Pushing the Boundaries. Some firms have implemented very unique implementations of their respective mobile websites. Winston & Strawn’s interface presents a geometric approach to its interface with large circles presenting featured content types with item titles. Bird & Bird takes an interesting approach. While most firm mobile interfaces emphasize content types as the main navigation items, B&B takes an informational approach with one block of text on the screen. Nixon Peabody has created a responsive website that incorporates the interface for smart phones: very large size text of each navigation item coupled a large horizontal green bar. As one selects each content type, the relevant content rolls down.