The index finger, to be specific. The one we all use to tap our phones, iPads, and to search Google or zoom in on a map.

Here’s our issue: there has been a lot of talk lately about Google’s ranking rules and how they give preference to “mobile-friendly” websites. This is true, and Google has been saying this for quite some time.

Unfortunately this is going to lead to a lot of sloppy, poorly planned websites, including lawyer websites.

Why? Because companies are going to try and scare a bunch of law firms and other small businesses into upgrading their sites immediately, and many will charge a premium for the mediocre work of creating a “mobile-friendly” website. But being mobile-friendly isn’t enough.

UntitledThink ‘touch-friendly’ or ‘touchable’ instead.

“Touchable” or “touch-friendly” is synonymous with user-friendly.

We want to drive one single point home: when creating a new site, imagine using it with only your finger on a relatively small screen, like an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy…because that’s what people are doing. (And soon they will be using voice commands, but that’s another topic.)

According to Q1 2015 statistics, mobile devices account for about 35% of all visits to law firm websites, with some firm websites reaching 50% of total visits from mobile and tablet users combined.

Update March 2017: On average, Obu Interactive clients are seeing 60% of their traffic from mobile and tablet, with some upwards of 70%. 

Yes, that is a lot, and those are well-qualified users. Those are not solicitors in their cubicles, and not your competition scanning your site for new ideas. Those are very real users looking for legal help.

Why ‘mobile-friendly’ misses the point.

Being mobile-friendly often means the firm may have a “responsive” website — a website that automatically adjusts to the screen size of a desktop, an iPad, an iPhone or similar device.

“Responsive” is a good thing, but it’s not everything. Regardless of how the website adjusts to fit a small screen:

  • Is it easy to touch, view and navigate using your finger on a small screen like an iPhone?
  • Are the links and navigation buttons large enough to easily touch with a fingertip, or are they so close together the user inevitably clicks the wrong one and ends up in the wrong place? (We have all done it.)
  • Have you considered older users, those with challenged dexterity and lower-income households as they are going online via mobile devices and budget wireless carriers?

When using a computer with a full-size monitor, we can move the mouse around and click as we desire. Agile and multi-functional, the mouse or cursor’s one job is to make navigating a website easy. Attempting the same task on a screen 1/10 the size — using a cursor 3x larger (your finger) — is like playing hopscotch wearing deep-sea diving fins!

Here is what you should do. It takes less than 4 minutes.

Open your firm’s website on your phone. Navigate to a practice area page; let’s say traumatic brain injury. If you don’t have a TBI page, find another sub-practice area page. Read at least two paragraphs and then try to contact your own firm through the form or links on the site. If you find yourself squinting, accidentally clicking the wrong link or generally frustrated with using your own site, you know to contact your web marketing company.

People looking to hire a lawyer will factor their experience on your site into whether they call you or not. The lesson: no matter how “mobile-friendly” it might be, if it’s not “finger-friendly,” your users will leave and take their potential cases with them. Be clear, be candid, and make sure it is done right, and if your current company doesn’t cooperate, it might be time to raise two fingers and say, “peace out.”

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