Consumer Bankruptcy Journal Fall 2015 - Page 36

ADVANCES IN GRAPHIC DESIGN By Fred J.Cohen Founder and CEO, Amicus Creative Media S teve Jobs famously said “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” One area where design and technology are particularly intertwined is the web, where advances in browsers and development tools have opened up opportunities for a more engaging and fluid user experience. If you have a website, you’ve likely been told a few core “rules” that you should abide by for maximum effectiveness, but in the face of recent advances many of these rules have lost their validity. Old Rule: Keep the important stuff above the fold We’ve all heard this golden rule which is based on the premise that people don’t want to scroll down when they land on your site so you should try to keep the important elements up at the top of the webpage. This rule, however, has lost much of its merit as the devices used to surf the web have changed. When visiting a site with a smart phone or tablet, one of the very first things that many people do is scroll down; after all it takes just the swipe of a finger. New Rule: Embrace stylized pages that feature information neatly organized in various sections. These sections should employ active elements such as parallax scrolling or different colored backgrounds which more effectively break up the content and enable users to digest 36 CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY JOURNAL the information and easily navigate around the site. The active sections, when properly designed, can also add visual appeal and intrigue to the user experience. Old Rule: Stick with traditional colors to give your site a more professional feel If you were to look at a large sample of attorney websites, you’d likely find that most share the s ame color schemes. They are blue and gray, brown and gold or black and white. For years, firms stuck with these colors because they were thought to be more professional. New Rule: Don’t be afraid to incorporate color and stand out in the crowded marketplace. A unique color scheme can shape the entire design and will immediately set a tone for new visitors. While it’s okay to use a toned down or neutral hue for your primary color, consider going bold with your accent color. Bright accent colors, like orange or even lime green, create visual intrigue and add another level of depth to the design Old Rule: Content is Far More Important than Design It’s true that in many ways “content is king.” High-quality, frequentlyupdated copy is necessary to engage visitors and to establish credibility with the search engines, but content can’t exist independent of design and user experience. For years, it was popular for Winter 2015 legal sites to have small graphic headers followed by paragraph upon paragraph of copy. The legal industry is finally shifting away from creating sites with content-overload and instead creating sites that focus on getting visitors to the right information, not all information. New Rule: Focus on creating a “yellow brick road” that will lead your visitors to the information that they want to see with the use of intuitive navigation menus that are built throughout the pages in your site (again stylized sectioned pages can help to accomplish this). You must also consider that less is more when reading copy on the small screen of a phone; focus on crafting short blurbs that provide value along with “read more” links that take visitors to a more complete resource. Videos are also great and tend to lead to higher conversion rates. To see some legal sites that have embraced new design trends and get inspired, check out the winners of “Outstanding Website for the Legal Industry” in the 2015 WebAwards competition or Lawyerist’s popular “Best Law-Firm Websites” article. About the Author: Fred J. Cohen, JD, is the founder and CEO of Amicus Creative Media, an award-winning attorney web design and marketing company, and a NACBA Member Benefit Partner. Visit www.amicuscreative. com/nacba to learn more about National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys