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project case study

Parlee McLaws Website Design & Development

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summary

The Challenge

Parlee McLaws is a large, regionally based law firm with nearly 90 lawyers operating in Alberta. Their competency and depth of expertise was betrayed by their existing site, however, and they were in dire need of a ground-up rebuild. Messaging and presentation aside, their existing site was also on a restrictive, proprietary CMS. That needed to be fixed, and we needed to design and build out a quick way for people in need to quickly find either a lawyer or an area of expertise.

The Solution

We worked together with a dedicated project group on Parlee’s side to reimagine the best user flow for the top-prioritized users. The core of the experience is built around the relationship between lawyers/agents, their related areas of expertise, and what the user requires at that moment. Custom designed and built on WordPress, users can quickly navigate to find exactly whom they need to contact – and all the content behind it is easily handled via the CMS.

Key Project Features

  • UX
  • Prototyping
  • Visual Design
  • Responsive Front-End Dev
  • WordPress Integration
  • Quality Assurance Testing
  • Training & Documentation
  • Performance Optimization
  • View Live Site
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The Details

Parlee McLaws is a multi-service law firm with approximately 90 lawyers spread across their offices in Edmonton and Calgary. With their skills spread across 20+ unique expertise areas – from Class Actions to Wills & Estates – content management, organization, and presentation is no small task. Pair these challenges with a visual design that needed a refresh and an inflexible proprietary content management system, and it was clear Parlee needed a ground-up site rebuild.

So, that’s what we set out to do. We kicked off with the Parlee project team, identifying their users and goals, as well as looking into their existing analytics to see what was working and what wasn’t. Moving through a section brief, which outlines key objectives, communication, and media on a per-section basis, we iterated on wireframes with the client to ensure the right solutions were being worked on before moving into UI design.

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Finding a Lawyer or Service Area

Through our learnings with the client, and the exploratory early phases of design, the key user and user path became clear. The long and short of it: if users were entering on the home page, they were explicitly looking for either a specific lawyer or for help in a specific expertise area. With that in mind, we designed and built out a multi-option search box – with each field validating against the previous, to minimize “no results found” incidents – that allows users to get to where they need to be in two screens. The second scenario – entries via organic search for service areas or lawyer names – meant those particular pages were designed with that context in mind, allowing users to quickly find their preferred method of contacting Parlee thanks to a clear call-to-action.

Single-Point Content Management with WordPress

Often, we’re brought in to solve frustrations with inflexible and unintuitive content management implementations – and Parlee’s previous CMS was no different. Their new site is built on WordPress, and thanks to proper information architecture and WP implementation, content management is as easy as it gets. Lawyers and Agents are handled via custom post type, and easily categorized into their Expertise Areas for automated templating and data management from a single data source. The sizeable volume of Expertise Areas are tackled in the back end via WordPress Menu and rendered in a user-friendly mega-menu on the front end. All in all, the new Parlee site is a huge upgrade in not only look, feel, and message – but in content management experience as well.

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Other Interesting Stuff

Here’s some more stuff worth mentioning. As per our norm, the site is a mobile-first, custom-designed responsive site built using WordPress as a CMS. We’re serving viewport-specific images using Waldo, our open source responsive images tool for WordPress, and the framework is a stripped-down, only-what’s-needed version of Bootstrap. The complex layouts you see on the all pages are handled via Advanced Custom Fields, and the site is running on a LEMP stack via Rackspace Cloud. There’s also a Chinese-language-specific page, alongside some custom innovative scrolling effects on the home page and some nifty IX touches like hidden sign-up forms and subtle hover interactions.

Summary

Overall, the new Parlee site is a well-executed custom site that took a volume of content types and distilled them down into an intuitive experience on both the front and back ends. The quality of the overall build was driven largely by the entire project team on all sides being detail oriented and inquisitive, and it’s a huge step up for the law firm as a brand. We continue to work with Parlee to support their new site and learn how to continually improve on it.

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