Designing and creating websites is both a wonderful and challenging process.
As a designer/developer, there’s a constant balancing act between pushing myself creatively and capturing the vision and authentic brand of a client. The more I explore website design and branding, the more I become passionate about a finished product that satisfies both parties.
One of the most recent websites I completed was for Forthe & Sprint LLP and it was a pleasure to create the brand and website for this company. Law firms are often conservative, traditional and corporate in their design and brand (as opposed to say, a calligraphy or portrait photography business), and a lot of thought was given to this website design to convey that authority and professionalism online.
I am thrilled with the finished product and the website we came up with. I’ve included more detailed information about this website and branding project below so read on for my insights and thought process!
Forthe & Sprint LLP is a Vancouver-based real estate and business law firm. They have a very strong reputation and excellent name recognition in Western Canada. For nearly thirty years, the firm has established itself as the leading independent law firm in the area.
The firm wanted a website that captured their professionalism, focus on local business and record of excellence. It needed to be clean and crips, easy to navigate, and the design had to be both modern and classic. They wanted to stand out online from other companies in their industry without being too jazzy or loud.
This was a great challenge and I am thrilled with the results. Take a look at the homepage below (note: apologies that the photo is a little dicey from the Chrome Full-Page Screen Capture extension!):
To start things off, let's take a look at the design aspect of this website.
The colour palette we chose for Forthe & Sprint LLP is one of my favourites to date! We opted for a combination of dark blue, greys and muted gold. These colours compliment each other well and can easily be combined for different effects as needed. We came up with a combination that is modern and stands out in the industry, without being flashy or loud. So many law firms chose a colour palate of white, black and red, so the colours we chose helps differentiate Forthe & Sprint LLP from the rest of the pack.
In addition, we curated a selection of high-quality photography for the website. One of the first images you see when you land on the Forthe & Sprint LLP website is of the harbour near Granville Island in Vancouver. This helps connects the firm to local clients. Throughout the rest of the site, we chose strong images which often depict office towers and urban business scenes. This fits nicely with the firm’s emphasis on real estate law.
We opted for clean and easy to read fonts for this website and brand. Choosing the right font can make or break a brand and in our case, we used Proxima Nova and Montserrat (both are free and available through Google Fonts). These fonts are classic and easy to read, which fits in with the overall feel of the brand. When selecting fonts, it's extremely important to think about what the letters convey. This is a prime example of "knowing your audience" and being clear on your company's brand- it simply wouldn't make sense for this law firm to pick a flowery/script-y font!
We opted for the Bedford template on Squarespace and added our own customizations.
Logo design is one of the pillars of branding and it's where things really start to come together on the website project. It also happens to be one of my favourite parts of the design process!
We played around with several themes for the Forthe & Sprint LLP logo but ultimately we went with the nautical steering wheel as the main icon accompanied with a clean text.
Versatility is one of the main things I consider when designing a logo. Many elements of the primary logo, such as the stacked text or the steering wheel, can be used on their own or else rearranged in different orders for versatility.
The primary logo looks great in the navigation bar of the website and on many of the branded elements. The alternate logos, on the other hand, are perfect for horizontal spaces (e.g., email signatures or the top/bottom of a document) or square spaces (e.g., favicon or social media handles). This is another reminder of how important it is to create logos with specific placement and uses in mind.
When creating the logos for my clients, I make sure to provide different file types (e.g., PNG, JPG) and sizes (S/M/L) so that they are covered in all situations.
As a designer/developer, one of my biggest pet peeves is when a website is designed without the user in mind. The website's structure and layout should be a balance between how the company wants visitors to find and interact with information online, as well as what makes the most sense from the user's point of view. There's no such thing as the "right" layout or website structure, and pages/sections might move around depending on the business' needs.
In this case, when a visitor lands on the site, they know right off the bat where they are and what type of law Forthe & Sprint LLP specializes in. The design and layout naturally directs visitors to the services page so that they can learn more about what services and practice areas are offered, and from there, visitors then learn about the client process. By creating a clear and guided pathway for visitors through this navigation, they are more likely to get in touch with the firm and convert to new business.
Also, since so much of the law firm’s new business is secured through direct communication, the website design encourages visitors to get in touch directly to move forward. While other business types aim to capture visitors’ information by collecting email addresses for newsletter sign ups or content upgrades, Forthe & Sprint LLP understood their needs and what converts best for them. As a designer, I make a point to keep my client’s business needs in mind when building a website, and this is an excellent example of how what works for one business might not work for another.
The design also leaves a lot of open room for additions in the future, such as if the company decides to start content or email marketing. The website's structure is clean and clear so adding these buttons or sign up sections would not deter users from the primary content.
As per usual, this website was built on the Squarespace platform so Forthe & Sprint LLP's website is totally responsive. Since more and more people are accessing websites via smart phones, this was non-negotiable in the website design and build. The site will adjust to display correctly on all screen sizes (phones, desktops, tablets, etc.) with standard reformatting.
After wrapping up this project, I’m thrilled with the outcome of this project and am happy to add it to my portfolio. I’d love to hear from you, what do you think of the new Forthe & Sprint LLP website? Do you have any questions about the design process? Leave me a note in the comments!