Since we make websites for law firms, the subject of photographs comes up daily at our office. We hear all sorts of questions related to this, including:
To answer these questions, we mined data from over 100 of client law firm websites using fancy new analytics software. This software will also be available next month, at no charge, to clients who are subscribed to our Local Marketing Fundamentals program. It goes way beyond Google Analytics in revealing user behavior on a website. For us, we can now compare and contrast how different website architectures, design elements, content and photographs perform to make data-driven decisions when advising our clients. If you’re interested in the Fundamentals program you can learn more about it here.
Here's a sample heatmap, generated by this new software, showing that the most popular elements atop our homepage are the portfolio menu, web design services and blog. Pretty cool!
The data absolutely says “yes.” Across the board the most popular pages on law firm websites, outside the home page, are the attorney biography pages. This makes sense because the lawyer is the product and law is a relationship business. Potential clients are curious about who they’d be working with. Law firm websites that have head shots on the biography pages show higher user engagement and conversion metrics than those without.
However, while the data broadly says “yes” to using a profile photograph, there are some legitimate reasons that a lawyer may not want one published. They may look too young to be considered “experienced.” They might look too old to be considered technologically savvy. They may have a deformity or injury that doesn’t photograph well. They may think that their ethnicity is a disadvantage. Or they may just truly have an insurmountable aversion to publishing a photograph prominently on their website.
While we always let the client choose what to do after presenting them with the data, we do try to remind them that they are who they are — and it’s probably best to work with clients who are okay with that. We’ve had numerous clients who, once they work with a talented photographer, are amazed at how great they look.
Certainly, based on our data, there is an expectation that there will be a photograph of the attorney on their biography page. However, we also see that, when attorney photographs are included on the homepage, engagement with the website is increased. Even when comparing similar designs for similar practice areas, the data shows that attorney photographs on the homepage reduce page abandonment (bounce rate), lead to longer visits, and increase conversions.
Here are examples showing a variety of ways to present solo attorney photographs on the homepage.
If you are a professional photographer, then yes, you can take the photo yourself. Otherwise, you most definitely want to have a professional take the photograph. A professional headshot photographer will not only have superior camera equipment and lighting, they will also know how to coach you into a perfect pose. Professional head shots can be used for several years and across many marketing materials and media, so they are well worth the investment. We actually sat down with Chris Amos, a head shot photographer we frequently use in the Ann Arbor area, and he provided some great tips on how to get ready for — and pose for — a photo shoot.
We believe that a team or group shot is a good idea from a marketing perspective. However, we don’t have data that gets so granular as to show us whether or not it increases the performance of the website. Here are some rules of thumb we suggest to clients, and things to consider with group photos.
Here are examples of great group photographs.
Certainly! In fact, almost all professionally done photographs are photoshopped to do color correction and to fix minor imperfections such as fly-away hairs, problems with clothing, and distracting things in the background like a water bottle or dead flowers. However, we do suggest stopping short of performing digital plastic surgery. This goes back to the point we made earlier about being who you are and working with clients who are okay with that. You don’t want there to be a “you don’t look anything like your online dating profile pic” look on a client’s face when they actually meet you the first time.
Law firms should include professionally-produced photographs of the lawyers and relevant staff on the website unless there is a compelling reason against it. If you’re a client of The Modern Firm and you need help finding a local photographer to work with you, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you pointed in the right direction.