We all know the scenario. You’re telling a friend, colleague or family member about your idea to create a website for your law firm. After all, other law firms have websites, nobody uses the white pages anymore and word-of-mouth alone isn’t enough to grow your profits. The person you’re speaking with offers to make the website themselves, or says they know someone (a friend, or another family member) who has a bit of know-how and could set the whole thing up for you.
The benefits seem obvious! It’s cheaper than hiring a professional web developer and you don’t have to waste any time searching around for one. Plus, it’s a friend, or family member, so you can easily chat to them about your website whenever you need a hand.
What could go wrong?
It’s cheap now, but costly later
There’s more to a successful website than the way it looks. Firstly, you need people to actually find it amid thousands of Google search results. Once they do, you want them engaged enough to stay there and maybe even get in touch. You also want your website to support your existing clients and their needs.
A hobbyist might not realise or understand the complexities of creating a successful law firm website. This means you’ll have trouble getting the foundations of your website right, and you might not even realize there’s a problem until much later. For example, it can take a month or two to find out if your website is properly search engine optimized. That means you might not realize your website isn’t getting any traffic until a few months after it’s been made. This is a tremendous waste of time that could have been used attracting and engaging new clients. It also means you’re faced with the problem of having to go back and correct the issue, which could prove even costlier than just doing it right the first time.
You might need to revise something
One of the most compelling reasons not to hire a friend or family member is because it can put a strain on your personal relationships. We tend to view business between friends or family with less urgency and less professionalism. This could severely impact your business goals in the long-term.
Imagine if you’ve realized that something on your website needs revision or fixing. You reach out to the friend or family member who built the website and ask them to make the changes for you, either because you don’t have access to the site dashboard or you don’t know how to use it. This is where you could encounter trouble.
We’ve seen it many times with clients who’ve had a website built by a friend or family member. Often, the law firm has lost access or, for some other reason, cannot access their website’s dashboard for a lengthy period. It could be because the person who made the website is on an extended holiday, or are too busy, or have lost the details, or simply wish to withhold them (this is often the case if things have soured in the relationship).
When you work with experienced and professional web developers, you’ll always be able to speak with them when you need to, and you’ll never have to worry about being locked out of your own website.
It’s not competitive
Your competitors did not use friends or family members to create their websites. They hired professionals to help create the most powerful marketing tool they could afford.
Unless whoever you’ve hired has extensive experience in developing websites, the difference will be noticeable between your website and one created by a professional agency dedicated solely to creating websites for law firms. This means you’re immediately starting at a competitive disadvantage. That’s not an image you want to show existing and prospective clients.
There’s more to a website than the way it looks
Creating a website for a law firm means understanding lawyers and their clients. A law firm website should ideally attract new clients and keep existing ones happy.
This can be done in two ways:
- Ensure the website is search-engine optimized so that new clients can easily find it. Once they’re on the website, engage them through valuable content, and convince them through calls-to-action to take the next step, usually to book an appointment or get in touch.
- Make the website an easy-to-use hub of convenience for existing clients. This could include offering existing clients a way to pay their invoices online, to book appointments, to fill out intake forms, to read about the latest developments in the law, to get an online quote, and more.
Both strategies require in-depth knowledge of, and experience with, creating websites for lawyers, law firms and their clients. It also means staying updated with the latest developments in user-experience, and a knowledge of Google algorithms. Your family member or friend may not have this experience, and your website won’t end up hitting its intended target.
You have to worry about security and maintenance
Websites are subject to all kinds of security threats, and it can be a complex process trying to protect against them all.
If your website accepts sensitive information like contact details and client intake forms, you need to ensure those details are safe. Regular updates can protect you and your clients by resolving vulnerabilities in your website files. If you don’t run these updates, you’re exposing yourself to hackers searching specifically for websites that aren’t updated and can be exploited. Website backups can also help if you’re hacked, if something is deleted, or something else goes wrong.
Keeping your website secure, up-to-date and maintained can be complicated and time-consuming. The chances are, your family member or friend won’t be able to dedicate their time to keeping it secure, but a web professional can look after it all for you. At Zaliet, we have a 99.9% uptime, we perform daily secure backups, routine critical updates, network monitoring and our infrastructure is with Amazon Web Services.