A website is essential for modern law practitioners. Building a law firm site creates your online presence. It lets you put information about your practice online, gives you a place to send potential leads, and enables you to access search engine traffic. However, only 59% of solo practitioners and 60% of small practices have a website. Without a website, you are cut off from these benefits.
Cost certainly factors into this statistic. Setting up a website is a significant investment if you’re a solo practitioner or part of a small firm. Even if you’re just redesigning your site, you still want to ensure you’re getting the most from your money. The problem is knowing whether you’re accomplishing that.
You can consider several elements when building a law firm website to determine if you’re getting a good deal. Keep reading to learn what to look for in an attorney website design firm to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.
Speed of Development
If you’re making an investment in a new website or a redesign, you want to see results promptly. The redesign process shouldn’t take six months to accomplish basic functionality.
On the other hand, quality work takes time. If a law firm website design firm promises an entirely new custom site in just a week, you should be suspicious.
Ask potential design firms about their average development speed. Depending on your needs and the amount of customization required, it takes between three weeks to three months to develop a new website. Shorter or significantly longer timeframes signify that you should be concerned that you’re not getting what you’re paying for.
You may want to be heavily involved in your site’s design and copy-writing process, or you may want to leave everything to your design contractor. Both decisions will impact the cost you should expect to pay.
For instance, if you want to write the copy and articles on your site, the developer won’t need to use professional writers and editors. This should lower the cost of the site, but it does significantly increase the amount of time you’ll personally spend building the site. It also means you may end up with copy that isn’t search-engine friendly, making it harder for your site to rank online.
Conversely, using the contractors’ experienced writers and editors may ensure that your site’s content not only accurately describes your practice but also gets found online.
You should ask about the firm’s writing and editing process. Look for the involvement of professional writers and editors, especially those with a legal background or experience writing for legal websites. These qualifications mean that you’re more likely to get accurate, high-quality content that you won’t need to rewrite yourself.
Cost and Hidden Fees
The law firm website cost will vary depending on your requirements, but you should always understand the entire pricing structure before signing anything. It’s not uncommon for website design services to include hidden fees for which you’ll be responsible to pay monthly or annually.
Examples of hidden fees include:
- Royalty rights on photographs
- Licenses for tools used to support your website
- Fees for templates and themes
If these costs are listed upfront, you can decide whether they’re worthwhile. However, if they’re buried in the contract, you may not have an accurate understanding of what you’ll be paying for your new site.
Furthermore, if you haven’t had a dedicated law firm website in the past, you should expect to cover other costs such as:
- Hosting fees
- Website registration fees
- Domain fees
These costs are a fundamental part of running an independent website. An excellent website design firm will include these costs in its estimates. When you understand everything you’ll be paying to run your site, you’ll be able to choose a design firm that genuinely fits your budget and meets your needs.
It’s one thing to hear about a design company’s quality from the company itself. It’s another to hear about it from past clients. If a website design firm has genuinely produced quality work in the past, it should post testimonials from satisfied customers.
If a company hasn’t posted testimonials, you can still reach out to past clients from the business’s portfolio. In fact, reaching out to past clients can help you get more honest feedback. You’ll find out about the company’s weaknesses along with its strengths. If someone is willing to recommend a company in a one-on-one conversation, you can be confident that you’re working with a quality website design vendor.
Beyond testimonials, many quality attorney website design firms will also offer case studies about their past achievements. These case studies examine the firm’s clients’ problems, how the firm helped them, and their results. For example, a case study might explain that a law firm wanted to increase conversions, and the design service produced a redesign that doubled new leads.
Case studies act as a combination of a portfolio and a proof of concept. A good case study will let you visit the new site to see the service’s creation for yourself. It will also give you hard numbers to understand the return which the design service offers on your investment.
Not every site design company has taken the time to develop case studies about their achievements. If one of your candidates doesn’t offer case studies, that’s not a red flag. However, if the firm provides case studies, you can study them to see if the company has achieved the results you want to see for practices like yours.
There are two main types of law firm design vendors: those that build your website and then turn it over to you to run and those who will continue to support it afterward. Vendors that continue to provide support will cost more over time, but they can also significantly simplify the process of running your site. However, not every continuing service offers the same level of support for your money.
Services to look for include:
- Site administration—managing annual and monthly registration and upkeep.
- Continued content creation and SEO—providing new blog posts and keeping the site up-to-date with SEO best practices.
- Live chat. If you have a live chat popup on your site, some site providers will answer these for you.
- Site updates—adding new pages and copy as your firm grows and evolves.
- Error maintenance—preventing pages from going down and keeping the site running effectively.
- Site recovery—replacing your site if it’s brought down by a hacking attempt.
While managing these elements yourself is possible, having your site design vendor handle them for you can be more efficient. If you’re paying a monthly upkeep fee, make sure you’re receiving services that are worth it to your practice.
The purpose of designing or redesigning your legal website is to improve your business in some way. A good website will make it easy to see whether that has actually happened. To let you monitor how your new site is helping your practice, the right design firm will provide data tracking and analysis tools to track your return on investment (ROI).
The easier it is to monitor ROI, the more clearly you can understand your site’s impact on your business. The two most important forms of law firm website ROI are the number of new leads it generates and the number of new clients the site helps you win. At a minimum, a good attorney web design firm will give you a simple way to check those results.
Depending on your preferred level of involvement, you might look for an online dashboard that gives you all the details about your site or a simple weekly or monthly report about how the site is working. If you’re not getting one or the other, you’re not getting the most out of your design services.
Building a Law Firm Website That’s Cost-Effective
Having a website can make all the difference to your law firm, especially if you’re a smaller practice. You can make sure you’re getting your money’s worth by doing your research in advance. Look for law firm web design firms that offer reasonable development times, are upfront about their development teams and costs, and provide an easy way to monitor your ROI. The best way to find these types of developers is to look for services that offer client testimonials and case studies for you to study.
While doing this research takes some time, it’s worthwhile. You’re more likely to find a vendor that’s reliable, cost-effective, and can meet your needs. Take the step to start developing a new website today by exploring the legal website development services offered by Martindale-Avvo.