Website building is not generally an area of expertise at most law firms. However, outsourcing your web development work comes with high costs and the hassles of dealing with 3rd party IT companies and web design agencies. Even making minor changes to your site can end up taking a considerable amount of time and money. And that’s why the DIY model can be so appealing. This post lays out the best do-it-yourself website builders for law firms to help you cut costs and save time while maintaining your image as a high-quality website.
The Benefits of Building Your Own Law Firm Website
There are some huge benefits to taking care of your own law firm website. Even if you’re not tech-savvy at all, it’s pretty easy to create a DIY website using modern technologies available online. (Read our comprehensive guide to law firm websites to learn more).
Here are some major reasons why you should consider building and maintaining your own law firm website, as opposed to outsourcing.
By far the biggest benefit of a DIY website is the cost savings.
Good law firm web design is a key factor for maintaining a professional image online. But, most local web development agencies will charge, at the very least, hundreds of dollars per month to maintain your site, on top of a few thousand dollars up front to build the site.
For a solo or small firm, these operational and maintenance costs can really eat into your profits. That’s why DIY websites, which are far cheaper, can be a great alternative.
At the same time, it’s also imperative to have a functioning and high-performing website. If the website is too slow or isn’t intuitive enough, it might end up costing you more money than it saves.
To create a professional website, web development agencies take a lot of time with multiple revisions and edits along with your input. It generally takes at least a couple of months to have the website up and running. And not to forget, agencies will also have other customers that they cater to. So, depending on the severity, your website tasks may go into a backburner thereby resulting in prolonged time for website completion.
Easier to update
Maybe you got added to Super Lawyers and you need to update your attorney profile to reflect it. Maybe an attorney left the firm, and you need to remove her profile from the site. Maybe you want to add a custom landing page or update the content on your homepage to drive more conversions.
Whatever the reason, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to update your site from time to time. But it’s a pain to have to contact your web development agency every time and then wait for the changes to be implemented (which usually includes a few rounds of revisions).
When you have a DIY site, you can update your website in a matter of minutes, and you can do it on your own without having to rely on outside help.
Suppose the contact form isn’t working or visitors are not able to book an appointment with the lawyers, an agency might take 2 days to finish a task which in practice may only take 2 hours. More often than not, they won’t be able to service your website at the drop of a hat. Especially when it comes to website support, it’s faster to troubleshoot issues with the website through an internal dedicated team.
Web development agencies may or may not have worked with legal services before. Nevertheless, as a law firm, you’d know your business better than anyone else. So, you don’t have to spend hours or days explaining to the agencies what your business does. You’d know what your customers want and how best to serve them. And thereby you’ll be in a better position to make strategic and technical decisions that align with the end goal in mind.
Things we consider to choose the best website builders for law firms
Ease of Use
Using a website builder is definitely easier than building a website from scratch. However, not all website builders are built equally. Some are more intuitive and easy to use than others. Some can be too overwhelming from a beginner’s standpoint. So it’s important to understand the ease of use of a website builder before finalizing on one.
There might be features which are relevant to law domain like e-signatures, appointment booking, and so on. The website builder should be able to cater to these functionalities either through in-built features or third party plugins.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Once your website is built, you want people to actually find it right? SEO will help reach a relevant audience and grow a website organically. So, a website builder needs to have appropriate SEO tools that will aid on-site optimization. There should be a simple way to update metadata, alt tags, provide sitemap to search engines among other things.
There’s a learning curve that comes with website builders. So, it’s pertinent to have online resources to understand how it works or fix issues. It’s better to choose a website builder which has good resources available (video or text), and good community support.
It makes sense to go with a reputable and reliable website builder so that you can avoid going to customer service unless it’s absolutely necessary. And when you do, it needs to provide timely solutions to your problems.
Best DIY website builders have the following qualities
Based on the above factors, an ideal website builder would be:
- Easy to use
- Provides e-commerce support
- Support for additional features and functionalities
- Responsive and updated themes to choose from
- Good SEO tools
- Provides good performance
- Straightforward content editor
- Supports different content formats
- Helpful resources
- Excellent community and customer support
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The Best DIY Website Builders for Law Firms
So, how do you build a good law firm website by yourself? There are a ton of DIY website builders, but we’ve chosen 3 of the best and most practical options for lawyers to use based on the criteria listed above. Here are our reviews:
WordPress provides customizable designs, SEO-friendly pages, responsive mobile sites, high-performance and high-security websites, a powerful media management system among other things.
As a law firm, there are thousands of themes to choose from and plenty of professional WordPress themes to customize the look and feel to your needs. So, it’s much simpler to build your own website as a law firm or a lawyer. It also has a virtually unlimited supply of plugins, which are little add-on pieces of functionality built by third-party developers. Plugins allow you to add things like contact forms, social media sharing, payments, performance enhancement tools, and anything else you can imagine to your WordPress site. There are also plugins like Clio Grow are relevant to your law firm for client intake, email automation, appointment booking, document signatures, and so on.
It provides integrated social media sharing features, so it’s easier for visitors to share a blog post or a website on social media platforms.
It can also be integrated with Google Analytics so that you can keep track of website stats, popular pages, what people are actively searching for, and more. These stats might even aid in making business decisions for your law firm in the future.
It’s slightly more complicated to set up than the others. It’s not a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) or “drag and drop” website editor.
There’s quite a bit of a learning curve involved when it comes to WordPress. Customizing your theme or plugins may require some basic coding skills, so if you’re not tech-savvy at all, it can be a bit challenging to get used to. But luckily there are tons of video tutorials and good documentation to help you.
It’s completely free to use through wordpress.org – you just have to pay for your domain and web hosting, which you can buy from GoDaddy or other hosting companies for under $30 per year.
They also have paid plans through wordpress.com which offer more features and services. But the free version is usually sufficient if you add a nice theme and install some plugins.
Squarespace is known for its ease of use and its beautiful, modern templates. It’s straightforward to set up your site, even for beginners, and it can literally be done in a matter of minutes. Also, you can play around with the editor and create your site before you have to pay, which is nice because you can get a feel for it before committing. Over 2 million websites are powered by Squarespace.
It’s a WYSIWYG editor, so you can update the text, change the design, or add content, images, or other features directly on the live website.
Squarespace website templates have built-in mobile responsive design. The idea behind mobile responsive design is that website elements adapt to fit to the size of the screen it’s being viewed on — whether it’s desktop, tablet, or mobile phones.
You can customize Squarespace on mobile screens and edit your website through the mobile editor on the Squarespace app on iOS and Android.
They also have integrations with social media sites and Google Apps for business, so you can set up a Google email account that’s associated with your domain (i.e. [email protected]).
In addition, it provides easy blogging features like adding content, categorizing blog posts, and scheduling a post for a later time.
It only has one law theme template as of now, called Harris which limits using out-of-the-box themes.
Due to the simplicity, Squarespace is not quite as flexible as WordPress and it can be difficult if you want to make major changes or customizations. Especially as your law firm grows and the complexity of the website increases.
It does not have as many optional features out of the box compared to WordPress with all of its plugins. There’s no support for third-party plugins, apps, or extensions. Any new features that get rolled out in the industry need to be rolled out by Squarespace for you to use it which can make it less flexible in the long run.
Lack of advanced marketing tools can be a problem. While it has URL redirect options, SEO is limited to basic meta structure.
It’s very reasonable, starting at just $16/month, and it comes with a free domain when you sign up. Plans go up to $26/month for added features, including an integration with Xero accounting.
You also get a discount for paying annually, which adjusts the price range down to just $12-18 per month. But you do have to pay the full amount upfront to get the discount.
LawLytics: Lawyer and law firm based website builder
LawLytics offers a do-it-yourself website editor and other content publishing tools. It’s targeted specifically toward attorneys, so all the features are designed for a law firm’s needs, whereas WordPress and Squarespace are more general.
LawLytics also includes marketing services to help generate web traffic and bring in business for the firm. It’s a good option for a larger firm or a firm that is looking to grow quickly but would still like to have the ability to maintain its own web presence.
They also offer good customer support to help you manage your law firm website, and their staff is knowledgable and has experience working with attorneys. Best of all, LawLytics can be integrated with Clio Grow so that new potential clients who contact you will automatically be tracked for follow-up and intake.
It is only meant for law firms to use, so the feature set is a bit more limited and less flexible. You may not be able to have any feature or a super-custom design like you could with WordPress. It’s also significantly more expensive than the other options, but that’s because it is tailored to a law firm’s needs.
They do not openly disclose the pricing on their website anymore, but last we checked prices started around $200 per month. Certainly a step up compared to the other options, but it comes with a number of additional benefits from a marketing and customer support standpoint, so it’s definitely worth considering.
We published this blog post in October 2017. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Marketing