As I mentioned in my last post, there are some positive aspects to the oft-maligned MoFo website. However, there are also a number of major flaws that should be addressed:
- Navigation. The website is a bit of a maze. They broke away from the basic conventions of website navigation – to the detriment of the user. Visit a practice area page and try to figure out what’s main navigation, what’s subnav and what’s practice area-specific navigation. Good luck.
- Basic Design Mistakes. The website disregards the basic lessons that most legal website designers have learned over the past decade, such as: (a) Never put white body text on a black background because it won’t get read. (b) Long paragraphs of text followed by more long paragraphs is just a bad idea. Again, it just won’t be read. (c) Navigation should never disappear. Ever.
- Designers Gone Wild. The site was designed by Pentagram, considered by some to be the best design firm in the world. Unfortunately, the Pentagram designers appear to have been more focused on designing a piece for their portfolio than creating a viable site for their client. It seems that whenever there was a choice to be made between innovative design and usability, they chose design. When the choice was between innovative design and marketing effectiveness, they again chose design.
- Marketing Effectiveness. While its branding is strong, the site doesn’t do a good job guiding users to the meaty text content that might influence a company’s decision to engage a firm. Practice area subpages (like case studies and publications) are hidden to the point of being practically invisible. Furthermore, their bio pages contain only limited information on a single page. This is terribly misguided considering that the majority of the traffic to a law firm’s website goes to the bios section.
- Brand Disconnect. While I like the strength of the brand, I suspect that website branding doesn’t accurately reflect the reality of the firm. It looks as though MoFo blindly outsourced much of the thinking to their designers. Check out the games and imagery that are accessible from the home page (for example, here and here). This stuff probably says more about their designers than about their lawyers.
- It’s Cold. It is common knowledge that the business of law is a relationship business. Stark black and white design – without pictures – has the potential to repel more relationships than it engenders.
- Not Built to Last. Is it modular? Can it grow as the firm grows without becoming a usability nightmare? It feels clunky now (and slow), and my experience tells me that this is likely to get worse as changes and additions are made in the future.