Dickstein Shapiro

Dickstein Shapiro - website design

Whenever we are approached by a client in a sector unfamiliar to us, the learning curve is steep. This was certainly the case when approached by the U.S. law firm Dickstein Shapiro.  We had to undergo a crash course in the way law firms operate and it turned out to be crucial to the success of the site.

A law firm teaches us the importance of business nuances

Through a series of stakeholder interviews and workshops we learnt that two of the key things Dickstein Shapiro’s clients are looking for are:

  • An attorney with the specific expertise and experience they need.
  • Enough additional attorney to support the work of the primary attorney. This is called having a ‘deep bench’.

This knowledge helped shape the site we built for Dickstein Shapiro. It made the biographies of individual attorneys hugely important. However, we also had to demonstrate that Dickstein Shapiro had that deep bench, offering more than its ‘star’ attorneys.

Bench depth is important for another reason. In the world of law, star attorneys rarely stay at a company forever so when they leave many of their clients can go with them. Dickstein Shapiro needs to demonstrate its deep bench to show that if an attorney moves on it is still capable of delivering.

Many clients are referred to a particular attorney because that attorney has a reputation in a certain field. The emphasis placed on their biographies has been carefully balanced against the prominence of links to practices in which they work. Practice pages demonstrate Dickstein Shapiro’s broader capabilities and experience.

Appreciating the nuances of a business and sector is crucial to the ultimate effectiveness of its website. That is why research is such an important component of the web design process.

When I first hired Headscape (a little over 3 years ago) I knew they were smart, and it was clear they were leaders in web design. What I didn’t know – what one cannot know until they’ve spent a few years in the trenches with a vendor – is how wonderful they would be to work with, day in and day out. They are trustworthy, levelheaded, and always available. They serve as strategic advisors in all of our online endeavours, and deliver on time and within budget. A true pleasure to work with.

Cynthia A. McCollough, Director of Marketing Technology

Headscape’s role

Headscape started working with U.S. law firm Dickstein Shapiro in 2011. What began as a simple site review has developed over time into a complete website redesign/build and an ongoing consultancy role as strategic digital advisors.

Research and Recommendations

We began by carrying out a programme of research work including an expert/heuristics review, analytics review, competitor review, stakeholder interviews and persona development leading to the creation of a website strategy document that would govern the design and build stages of the project.

User personas developed as part of an initial research phase.
User personas developed as part of an initial research phase.


Following the research work, we embarked on a design phase that focused on translating Dickstein’s new branding into an online look and feel, and developing an information architecture that reflected Dickstein Shapiro’s objectives and its audiences’ requirements.

The design process project site.
The design process as delivered via a project deliverables ‘hub site’ to keep everything together in one easy-to-reference URL.

We developed an interactive prototype of the new site to enable rapid development of layouts, content, and structure.

Wireframe prototypes
Wireframe prototyping enabled a bare-bones representation of the site to experiment with navigation and layout of elements.

Finally, we combined the new look and feel with the functionality specified by the prototype as a suite of responsive HTML/CSS/Javascript templates.


The third phase of the project involved building the site on the Drupal CMS platform. This work included integrating the templates into Drupal and developing custom databases for attorneys, practices, and experience (that also integrate with offline third party systems). The site went live in September 2013.


We also helped Dickstein to create detailed website governance guidelines covering: KPIs, Digital Philosophy, Content Style Guide, Design Style Guide, Team and Responsibilities, and CMS Usage.

Analysis, testing and iteration

We continue to work with Dickstein to carry out a programme of strategic support that uses analytics to measure how the site is performing against the KPIs agreed as part of the governance work. We are currently developing a custom analytics dashboard that pulls realtime data from Google Analytics.

Marcus Lillington during an Content Workshop
The product of a busy Content Workshop afternoon.