July 2nd, 2015 by Gage Pacifera
Imagine that you have a question about the law or think that you may need legal representation, but you’re not familiar with the legal implications around the issue you’re experiencing and you don’t have contacts you can reach out to in the legal industry. What do you do?
If you are a resident of New York City, you can go to the New York City Bar Association’s Legal Referral Service website to learn more about the relevant area of law and to arrange a consultation with an experienced, reputable lawyer:
The NYC Bar partnered with Harmonic Northwest to develop their new Legal Referral Service site. Drawing on Harmonic Northwest’s expertise coordinating custom WordPress builds, we were able to take designs and wireframes and translate those into a 150+ page feature-filled responsive HTML5 website.
The online referral form is the most important feature of the site–this is where users fill out information about their issue so that the Legal Referral Service staff can direct them to an appropriate lawyer. After the user has filled out the form, it is submitted to a NYC Bar email address and the user is sent an email confirmation. The staff uses this information to contact the user and put them in touch with a lawyer.
The bulk of the site’s content is in the form of informational pages that explain common legal issues. Users can browse through over 140 pages of articles ranging from criminal law to landlord-tenant information to worker’s compensation rules. There are several navigational cues on the legal topic pages including fly-out top navigation menus, sidebars of legal topic categories and links to more detailed content about the topic at hand and breadcrumbs. Users can also easily share the content on social channels or print the information.
The site also features a helpful glossary of legal terms. The glossary’s words and phrases are underlined within the content of the legal topics pages and the user can hover a mouse over them to view a tooltip with a short summary of the term.
I was excited that the NYC Bar prioritized making the site accessible to spanish-speaking users. A language toggle in the upper right portion of the site allows users to toggle between languages to view many pages (including the referral form) in their native language.
The site has a number of other notable features: advanced search, flexible carousels and sidebars, highly responsive layouts, an interactive animated banner and a carefully-considered balance of control over content versus usability on the administrative side of the site. Harmonic Northwest also worked closely with NYC Bar to develop a deployment process and to implement an SEO strategy.