Building A Law Firm Website: Where Do You Begin?
A lot of lawyers come to us saying they tried to build a website, but didn’t know where to start. This blog will serve as a guide to all the elements that go into creating and launching your law firm website. Remember, building your site is more than just making a design and filling it with copy, it’s a complicated and involved process that you should be part of from start to finish.
The first step to creating your law firm website is establishing a vision. You must have a clear and concise vision for your firm that translates into your website design. To help determine your vision, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you trying to accomplish by creating this website?
- Who is your clientele?
- What audience will you be targeting?
This will help establish the foundation for what will eventually become your impressive website.
Remember, the way you present your firm online is essentially your brand, so make it valuable. Develop brand awareness on every page – and be sure it is clear across the website as well as on your other online profiles. Be sure to ask yourself at every step of the website design if you are satisfied with your site, and if it represents your firm accurately. For more information on the physical design and layout of your site, take a look at how ONE400 redesigned their site from the ground up.
Choose A Domain
Once your site is satisfactory, you will want to select a domain name, or URL. If you are creating a law firm website, I personally prefer to use the firm’s name as opposed to a keyword stuffed URL that may cheapen your brand. Unless your firm name is Criminal Lawyer Los Angeles, I would stay away from a keyword stuffed domain. If your law firm’s name is Smith and Associates, try to use a domain like www.SmithandAssociates.com – not www.SmithandAssociatesCriminalLawAttorneysLA.com.
What Platform Should I Build It On?
Once the domain is purchased, you are going to want to pick a content management system (CMS). This is a very important step because it is going to be the interface that will allow you to manage your website. There are multiple content management systems in existence, but only a few that I would recommend: WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. These are, by far, the most user and search engine friendly content management systems. Out of these three, WordPress is definitely the best approach when creating a law firm website for a few reasons.
First, most of the WordPress themes are responsive, meaning they can be viewed seamlessly on a device of any size such as a laptop, tablet or cell phone. Responsive design provides an ideal user experience on mobile devices and helps your mobile organic search rankings. Since the number of mobile users are quickly passing the number of desktop users, responsive design is very important. Second, WordPress will allow you to fully customize or add predefined themes to spruce up your site and make it appealing. Among the many advantages of the mentioned content management systems is their versatility. There is no ceiling to the level of customization and functionality that can be created for your website. However, the more complex the vision, the more advanced coding and programming will be required. Lastly, WordPress is very user friendly with several plugins to help your site flourish.
Design Of The Website
This brings us to the design of your site. Typically, you want to map out the pages by creating a basic sitemap and wireframes. As the skeleton of your law firm website, it will outline the bases and provide a starting point from which to work off of. Designing the homepage is the most difficult part of this process. To start, I usually recommend getting ideas of layout, color schemes and functionality from other sites that you are attracted to. Perhaps you are drawn to the vibrant blues and soft greys, or you were intrigued by the smooth transitions or a certain animation, or maybe you were fascinated that such a minimalistic website could catch your attention so quickly. These are all features and insights that you should observe when building a new site, as it will simplify the process and instill confidence in your creative decisions.
Law Firm Website Content Creation
Content, or copy, is one of the most crucial aspects when building your firm website. Since it is essentially your attorney advertising language, it must be accurate and informative to avoid problems. Even though it is not intended to be legal advice, your content represents what you stand for on a legal and personal level.
When writing copy on your site, you want to consider your audience. You are building this law firm website to attract clients, therefore you should entice them with simple and concise content that explains what you do and how you can help; and of course, how to contact your firm. Aside from your audience, your law firm’s site content must be relevant to the search engines, or “SEO friendly.” The heading tags must be used properly and the content must include relevant search terms that will allow the search engines to sufficiently index it. After all, the majority of law firm websites exist to generate leads and if it doesn’t rank well, it will receive little traffic from potential clients.
Selecting Imagery for Your Law Firm Website
Users will gravitate towards the imagery and colors of your website, which will impact their first impressions of your law firm. These stylistic elements will represent your brand, so choose cohesive design elements. Do you want an epic stylized image of a city skyline as your hero image, or do you want a photograph of your office? You should ask yourself these questions when deciding on the imagery. I typically recommend a combination of both stylized images to represent your vision and tell your story, along with photos of your firm.
Optimize Your Website
There is a laundry list of optimizations that will help the search engines recognize your website from meta content to alt tags. This might sound like a foreign language, but I can assure you it is helpful when building a website. You can read about the necessary optimizations in our guide on How to Optimize Your Law Firm’s Website.
Now that you have purchased a domain and picked a content management system, built the elements of the site then added content and imagery, and you have optimized the website to be search engine friendly, you are ready to launch your site. But before you launch your law firm’s new website, be sure to do a quality check. Check the content and functionality of every aspect of the site to ensure that it is ready to go live. If it passes the quality check, you are good to go! One of the advantages to building a website on a content management system such as WordPress, is the ease of edits. It is relatively simple to make changes and updates as needed, so you are not married to a particular concept.
Building a website is a lot of work and can be very time consuming. If you aren’t comfortable and don’t have countless hours to devote to learning the essentials of web development, hire a professional. And if you are going to hire a professional, why not have your law firm website designed by One-400?