Writing for web and writing legal documents are two separate audiences and disciplines. Online, the way that visitors of a web page read differs greatly from that of someone reading a legal document or contract for example. Online, users want information fast. They want information quickly and they want to be able to find it easily. One of the foundations of a good website is a site that provides information efficiently to its users. Web writing too should be easily digestible to the audience.
Providing well organized and truncated information to web users is a best practice. Use small paragraphs and avoid large chunks of text that are hard to read online. Using headers and subtitles to separate blocks of copy is good too.
Go for simple writing
Avoid industry jargon and acronyms – chances are your audience is not going to be comprised exclusively of lawyers, so easily-understood text trumps more inclusive industry verbiage. Plus, if a potential client visits your site for information on representation, you don’t want to annoy them with confusing legal speak. That is a sure way for someone to jump off the site and onto another website.
Written content online is best-suited to an active writing style that is conversational, rather than a more passive, academic writing style. An example of the difference between active and passive writing is “Ben will eat supper soon” (active) and “later, the dinner will be eaten by Ben.” You notice that the active style is less words and presents a clearer description of the action in the sentence.
Break up text by using Lists
• They shorten text
• Easy to read
• Clearly organized and defined
• Provide relief from long text passages
• Contain simple ideas that are easy to remember
Plan for scanning, not reading
A large proportion of internet users scan articles, rather than reading from line to line such as when reading a novel. Since most are scanning, it is essential that you get the message across quickly and properly. People are seeking information and they want it quickly or else they will go to other sources. Always ensure your copy is segmented and easy to decipher, and make the important parts stick out. If website copy passages are long, hard to read or confusing, you might lose that visitor quicker than you think.
Now, this idea of simple writing might be hard when considering lawyers have to provide a multitude of information as well as discussing cases and contracts and other legal documents. The key may lie in striking a balance between conversing easily with your clients and also projecting your professionalism and knowledge on a subject. Showing your visitor you are both knowledgeable and approachable may work to your advantage.
Plan the site for what your client wants
When designing the different sections and navigation of your firm website, try to plan it from the perspective of what a potential would be looking for when visiting. If you need inspiration, check out other firm websites of Law promo for an idea of what to include for content on your site.
Use Images when appropriate
Images and videos are a great way to illustrate information and break up long blocks of text. It works great for people who are visual learners or anyone who welcomes a break from web copy.
Highlight or Bold Important Information
Highlighting important information gives readers scanning a page the proper clues as to where the important subject matter resides. The simpler the better for the user is a great general rule to be mindful of.
Provide Useful Information = Keep visitors coming back
Providing useful links and other information to visitors is a great way to ensure they come back to your site. Updating useful law-related topics through blog articles on your site and linking to helpful resources and organizations can earn trust and confidence in your visitors.
And one final thought:
Never underestimate the power of a short sentence on its own for emphasis.