As a legal service provider, it’s easy to get lost in the mission and dismiss design as an unimportant detail. After all, helping someone navigate the justice system is far more important than creating a great logo, isn’t it?
Don’t overlook this important fact:
Good design improves access to justice.
A2J Tech added graphic design to our menu of services for exactly that reason. It helps open the door to people who may be reluctant to trust in legal services, and it extends your reach to those who may not have otherwise known you exist. The design for your legal aid website can even help people better understand what you do and find the information they need more easily.
You wouldn’t meet a client face-to-face without brushing your teeth and wearing clean clothes, would you? Pay as much attention to the appearance of your emails, flyers, and website as you do to your staff and yourself. Consider how you want people to remember you when they see your logo, look at your business card, or open an email from your organization.
Build Trust With Good Design
First impressions matter. Trust is a basic business requirement for legal services, and your first contact with a potential client sets that tone.
Your website is often your first point of contact. Before they read a single word of text, your prospective client will start forming their opinion about you. How do you want them to feel?
Have you ever read one of the scam emails from your spam folder? Here’s one from mine:
You can take one glance at this email and tell immediately that it’s a scam. You don’t even need to read the text. The gray background, sketchy logo, weird typography, and emoji-packed subject all send the clear signal that this email isn’t trustworthy.
Now, take a look at the website for unemployment claims in Nevada:
While all the important information is there, this design doesn’t inspire much trust. A claimant might wonder if their personal information is safe.
Let’s assume you’ve just filed a claim on this website. Do you expect the rest of the process to be efficient and professional, or do you think it will be disorganized and frustrating?
Design sets the tone. If you already expect to have a frustrating experience, you’re less likely to be patient with the process. However, if your first interaction is clear and professional, you feel more valued and respected. That sets the groundwork for a more productive partnership.
Give Guidance Through Design
When done well, design can be a tool to guide and educate.
Thoughtfully designed materials help your clients understand what they need to do, step by step, to navigate complex legal procedures. Daunting legal processes can be broken into manageable pieces. Everything goes more smoothly when your clients know what to do next and feel confident that they can handle it.
Design features like explainer videos are even better at creating clarity and confidence. Think about all the things you find yourself explaining for every new case. Those are the perfect topics to tackle with graphics and videos.
On a higher level, the look and feel of your brand materials help the right people find you. Your logo alone can go a long way towards telling the world what you do. If someone can glance at the homepage of your website and immediately tell if they’re in the right place to get help, your design is doing its job.
Using Graphic Design to Improve Access to Justice
To make legal services more accessible to the people who need them, it’s our job to remove barriers.
Skepticism prevents some people from even asking for help in the first place. It’s a widely held belief that attorneys and other legal professionals take advantage of the people they’re supposed to be helping.
Other people worry that they won’t be able to handle the confusing paperwork, let alone get through the complex legal process.
For some, the trouble is just knowing where to begin. They know they have a problem that they can’t solve on their own, but they don’t know where to find help. With so many different kinds of lawyers and a flood of legal language that isn’t even in English, it’s hard to ask the right questions, let alone find the right resources to answer.
Design helps address all of these accessibility issues.
By encouraging trust, improving clarity, and making your mission more obvious, your design becomes an important tool in your accessibility toolbox.