A webpage is one of the most important facets of law firm marketing. At this point, there are few law firms that are doing well who do not have a webpage. Webpages have supplanted the phone book, billboard advertising, radio, television and a litany of other advertising methods that used to be staples even ten or twenty years ago in the legal industry.
The question about who should do the law firm’s webpage is a real one that many debate. Law firms can tend to shift in multiple different directions in terms of how they go about setting up a webpage. The common options are:
- Legal Marketing Organization – Some law firms opt to use one of the major legal firm marketing and directory organizations to publish their webpage.
- Design Firms – Some law firms opt to use a design firm of some kind (local or national) to publish their webpage.
- Do-It-Yourself – Some law firms opt to create and design their own webpage.
There are various strengths and weaknesses to each of the three approaches. The reality is that not every law firm can or should go in the exact same direction for their firm. Based on the needs of the firm, the budget and the marketing savvy and strategy of the firm, different options can work for different firms.
In terms of legal marketing organizations, the advantages are somewhat obvious. First, they work with lots of law firms. They usually have writers that have some knowledge of the law and can help create good content. They also usually put the law firm in their online directories, which can result in leads and webpage optmization. The disadvantages are that lots of these webpages can look very similar because the same templates are often employed. These sites can also be expensive and require long-term contracts. Some also complain that these law firm marketing organizations work with multiple competing firms at the same time, which results in an apparent bidding war between law firms (on who has the nicest webpage in a particular area of the law).
As it relates to design firms, the design of some of these sites can sometimes be quite impressive because lots of these organizations employ skilled graphic designers. Lots of these design firms also charge an up-front amount of money for the webpage and there is not a re-occuring cost. Unlike law firm marketing companies, the webpages can also look unique and different from other competitors. Some of these design firms also have sophisticated knowledge about how to make a site show up well. The disadvantages are that these design firms might not have a lot of knowledge about the law and law firms, which can result in content that is somewhat flimsy. The law firm also does not end up in a legal directory. Further, lots of design firms once they launch the site do very little to maintain and/or add to it. They might also be great with the design, but have little knowledge about optimization. Some of these design firms also work with multiple law firms and have the same bidding war complaints that lawyers complain about with legal marketing organizations.
In terms of doing-it-yourself, if the law firm has somebody who really knows what they are doing, this can save a lot of money. If the firms knows what they are doing, they can also add new content freely and not have to work through a third party to run their webpage. If the firm knows a lot about design, they can also make a webpage that looks like very few others. The downside is a lot of these webpages do not look professional. Many law firms have little savvy from a design and content standpoint. This results in sites that do not look professional from a design perspective, nor do they show up well online because they have little understanding about optimization.
At the end of the day, law firms can go in different directions based on the specific firm. Versus simply following the popular opinion of others in your locality, lawyers should think critically about this decision.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.