Balancing Website Design and Accessibility

By Melanie C. Hagan posted 04-10-2017 08:59

  

For eight years, Lawyerist.com has chosen the top 10 best law firm websites from numerous nominations. The 2017 winners were picked based on design, search engine optimization practices, and website security. This Canadian criminal defense firm’s bold look and content earned a place on the list. This Minneapolis solo attorney’s website delivered “bold visuals and a clear brand message.” (On the other end of the spectrum, this article explains why some websites didn’t measure up.)

What Lawyerist didn’t take into account this year was website accessibility—but it plans to next year. As Lawyerist puts it:

According to the US Census, nearly 1 in 5 Americans has a disability, and it is safe to assume many of them hire lawyers for many of the same reasons the other 4 in 5 Americans do. Unless a law firm intends to exclude 20% of potential clients, it should be accessible.

Website accessibility means ensuring that people with disabilities can easily use your website—having captions for video content, navigation that can be accomplished using only a keyboard, and content that is readable by screen readers. Although, strictly speaking, private law firms are not required to have accessible websites, it just makes good sense to have a website that more people are able to interact with. And, as noted here, “the legal sector should be setting the example and helping to raise the accessibility bar for other industries.”

The easiest time to make sure that your website is accessible is during the development stage. Being proactive often saves time and money. But if you haven’t built your website with accessibility in mind, you can use an accessibility evaluation tool to find out where your website needs work to become more accessible. However, if your website is very old and requires a great deal of work, a complete redesign may be in order.

As this London-based law firm’s accessible website shows, accessibility does not mean sacrificing look and feel. Maybe your firm’s website can follow in its tracks.

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