What developer should you choose for your law firm’s website development needs? Below are ten factors to consider when choosing a website developer for your law firm.
Our competitors often charge hosting and “maintenance” fees of $250-$1,750/month for solos to small firms. This may seem inexpensive compared to paying $4,000 or more for your website. However, even at $600/month – in less than a year you will have paid more to lease your website than if you had paid the one-time up-front development cost.
At this point, the website becomes really expensive. At $600/month, your payments will be $21,600 over 3 years, and $36,000 over 5 years. These amounts may be significantly more if you want video or blog functionality.
These companies don’t want you to focus on the total cost of website ownership, because if you do, you’ll realize how expensive they are. TIP – consider your total cost of ownership for at least a 3 year period.
Say you want to leave the company after 3 years (and after spending over $21,000) – can you take your website with you? While you may be given a disk with website images and page content, this is NOT the same as having a website.
You will still need to have a new website developed, as you will not be permitted to use their website platform. So, you’ll be back to paying the $4,000 or so you were trying to avoid in the first place.
With our website development, your website is yours to take with you. And, there are literally thousands of hosting options available, including virtually all major website hosting facilities.
Before being concerned with whether you need to be in the “Must-Be-In” directory that the company is promoting, consider whether your clients even know about (much less would search for) an attorney in that directory.
The overwhelming search choice for law firm clients is the same as for any other product or service – Google.
In many instances, companies start with simple website templates that have been used for many other law firm websites. This is not optimal for SEO purposes. Then, a designer changes colors, pictures, and other aspects. The result is that many personal injury law firm websites, for example, have nearly the exact same layout.
Here’s an example of stilted SEO content –
“Our Chicago personal injury lawyers focus on providing personal injury services to help those injured in accidents. If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Chicago, our legal team of Chicago personal injury attorneys are here to help.”
Does this form of writing appeal to your clients?
A number of our big company competitors require you to use their platform so that you can’t easily leave. Compared to WordPress, with tens of thousands of plugins available, these platforms typically have no “apps” or “plugins” available, as there is no outside development being done. Instead of having the freedom to easily expand your website with the latest social media or other plugins, you will be limited by the functionality that they choose to build into their platform.
If you want to have additional website functionality, chances are that it won’t be allowed or that it will be very expensive. You won’t be able to choose your developer, as these companies do not not permit others to develop on their platfom.
Some companies add dozens of links for the benefit of their company beyond a simple “Website design by” link in the footer. They may even include huge numbers of links to support their properties or their other clients as part of “link farm” and other manipulative practices, which can significantly damage a law firm’s website for SEO purposes. Before hiring any developer, you should carefully understand what links they are going to be adding to your website.
While most website developers will not make this claim, unfortunately there are still some companies that allude to having a special relationship with Google by implying that if you sign up with their company, they will be able to get high rankings because of their company’s relationship. If any company claims that they have such a relationship, we urge law firms to disregard such company, as even Google states that it does not have any special relationships with any companies that influence organic (non-paid) listings.