“If I do what you’re asking me to do, it’ll be dumbing down the material.”
That’s what an attorney told me once as I was coaching him through the process of crafting the content on his webpage. At the time, I didn’t have the exact data that I’m going to share with you today, but I had been a public school teacher. I understand the importance of being able to communicate with your audience.
One thing I know for certain is this – complex legal terms, long sentences, and bulky paragraphs are a non-starter for law firm websites.
For the purposes of law firm website content, you can’t write as “lawyers.” You aren’t at a law conference, and you aren’t going head-to-head with opposing counsel. You’re trying to talk to someone who needs your help.
The literacy problem in the US
The National Literacy Directory has some alarming statistics about the state of literacy in this country:
- 14% of the employed population has low literacy skills.
- 1 out of every 6 adults in this country lacks basic reading skills
- Approximately 36 million people in the US cannot read a job application, understand basic written instructions, or properly interpret what they find on the Internet.
Data provided by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) shows that 21% of adults in the United States (about 43 million) fall into the illiterate/functionally illiterate category.
To be sure, even people who have excellent literacy skills are still likely to struggle with complicated legal terms that they do not hear every day. The reality is that you do need written content on your law firm website, but you need to make it as simple as possible for the reader. This can be hard to do when you’re used to crafting legal briefs or writing research papers.
How you can create legal content that everyone can read
- Use everyday words. There is no need to use anything other than simple English when you are creating your law firm website content. At Blue Seven Content, we’ve previously discussed why using complex legal terms is a bad idea.
- Explain legal terms if you have to use them. If you find that using a legal term is absolutely necessary, then you should properly explain it to your readers using plain English.
- Shorter sentences. Your sentences should generally be short and to the point. If you find yourself creating multiple complex sentences, go back and think about how you can shorten them. Reading your post out loud really helps catch these longer sentences.
- Shorter paragraphs. Big and long paragraphs or an immediate turn-off to a reader. In fact, your reader is very likely to either hit the back button or skip over long paragraphs altogether. Seriously, if you find yourself using more than three sentences in a paragraph, ask yourself why and if the additional sentences are necessary.
- Bullet points all the way. We love using bullet points because our readers love having bullet points. We’re willing to bet that regardless of what type of information you are looking for, you scroll right to the bullet points to get the gist of the post. Your law firm’s prospective clients do the same thing.
- A clear CTA. Regardless of the type of information you are creating for your law firm website, every page should have a clear call-to-action for the reader. They need a sentence or two pushing them in the direction you need them to go, which is to call your law firm or fill out a contact form.
Your prospective clients should not feel shamed – they should feel welcomed
Any person reading your webpage should never feel ashamed for not understanding what your page says. Regardless of what type of practice areas you handle, the reality is that most people only need your services if they are at a particularly low point in their lives. They’re already going through something tremendous, and they just want some help. Your law firm’s website should convey to the reader that you can help them and that they will not feel any shame when they call you.
Blue Seven Content takes complex material and turns it into conversion material
A team at Blue Seven Content understands the need to craft law firm website content that is readable by a wide audience. In fact, many of our writers have a background in education. We all have stories of being young teachers walking into the classroom full of what we think is high-level pedagogical understanding only to realize we know nothing about communicating with our audience. We learned the hard way, and we want to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes. If you have any questions about how to craft the following, we are here to help:
- Law firm practice area pages
- Law firm blog posts
- Law firm landing pages
- Press releases
- Attorney bio pages
- Law firm “about us” pages
- Law firm homepages
You can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling us at 843-580-3158. Our team is ready to talk to you today.
Written by Allen Watson – CEO and Co-Founder of Blue Seven Content