Importance of a Custom Law Firm Website
There’s 101 ways that website builders will sell you on a new site. It’s the face of your firm, your digital business card, a lead magnet for potential clients, and so on and so forth. Well, it is all those things, and so much more. Your website is the cornerstone upon which digital success (or failure) hinges. Sound dramatic? Let’s dig deeper.
Success in SEO starts with a sound legal content strategy. You need to build content that is informative, focused on addressing questions or concerns of the visitor, and adequately layers in CTA’s (calls to action) to build leads from intent. Even the best legal content doesn’t stand a chance at ranking on Google without a site design that showcases it appropriately. An excellently built website will make your content shine by making it:
Though a site’s ability to rank well on Google and other search engines for valuable keywords is obviously important, it’s not the only goal to consider when building a law firm website. In addition to direct revenue generation, your site will be visited by judges, co-counsel, media contacts, and more who will gauge the quality and reputability of your firm on first impressions. We could go on and on about the value of an expertly crafted legal brand (in fact we just might in a future article) but suffice to say an important part of your brand is a trust building website.
Moving on to paid digital advertising, the importance of a beautiful, performant, and modern website becomes even more apparent. According to the famous Amazon study on the correlation between site speed and revenue, for every 100ms of page load time, 1% of revenue is sacrificed. It is clear that converting paid sessions to paying clients requires superior performance. The technical considerations for an efficient website are extensive and range from optimized resource loading to hardware and caching layers that scale with traffic. These high standards for success require a deep knowledge of software and web development which are often bypassed for cheaper builds, a subject we’ll dive into in deeper detail in the next section.
Primary factors that Affect Law Firm Website Cost
There are 3 primary factors that can influence the cost of your law firm’s website:
- Size of your firm
- Quality of the build
- Time and material cost
Let’s go into each of these a little deeper.
Size of your firm
launching a new brand is usually 10-20% less expensive than migrating a small site and 40-50% less expensive than a large firm’s redesign project.
You might think launching a new law firm would be more expensive than redesigning an established firm’s website. A new law firm has no logo, branding guidelines, or existing content framework after all. Not so! In reality, the price of a law firm website tends to scale proportional to the size of the firm.
This dynamic tends to result from a few primary factors:
- More stakeholders require consensus. Larger firms usually have more partners with diverse backgrounds, practices, and goals. These all must be weighed and balanced during the design process.
- More templates and page types required in the new build. Most scenarios dictate at least parity when rebuilding a website. In other words, no page left behind. More templates means more time which means more cost.
- A large sitemap requires a lot of work to transfer. Think of a redesign as moving all the parts of a car from one chassis to another. Every part needs to be accounted for or the site could suffer ramifications when it comes time to “turn it on”.
For the above reasons, launching a new brand is usually 10-20% less expensive than migrating a small site and 40-50% less expensive than a large firm’s redesign project.
Quality of the build
The quality of your build (and builders) is by far the strongest signal in deciding the final cost of your law firm website project. Building a performant, functional, differentiated law firm website requires significant skill and effort, something only expert legal marketers have. Some of the ways designers and web developers might lower the cost of the build at the expense of quality include:
- Using templates instead of custom designs
- Extensive plugin or library usage instead of custom code
- Visual or drag and drop builders
- Bypassing SEO safety measures like redirect configuration
- Neglecting efficiency concerns
- Building on proprietary or closed-loop systems
While these shortcuts might save you a few thousand dollars in the near-term, the long-term consequences are potentially catastrophic.
Time and material cost
Unlike buying a car, buying a website is a purchase of services, not a product. Unless of course you buy a template (see danger above). Like any service, the cost is largely a function of time and material required to fulfill your order. These costs vary wildly depending on the geographic region and – let’s face it – greed of an agency. Importantly, costs aren’t strictly proportional to quality, they just tend to have a strong correlation (i.e. better providers are able to justify charging higher rates because of a strong reputation).
The personnel roles you’ll typically encounter on a website build include:
- Creative Director
- Content Director
- Web Developer
- Project Manager
- QA (Quality Assurance)
In parts of the world where cheap labor thrives like India and Africa rates for these roles can be as low as $14-15/hr whereas domestically the rates typically floor at $30-40/hr.
But before you sign that check for a $14/hr project manager role you should understand the risks. The biggest dangers in using an offshore provider are:
- General gaps in English language comprehension. This can result in difficult working relationships and even trickier content implementation. Law firm’s and their readers tend to care about readable content
- An emphasis on bringing down implementation cost. These providers are able to function by working on enormous volumes of work. This means they are incentivized to complete your project as quickly as possible, which usually means adopting the cost-saving measures described in the previous section.
- A complete lack of experience in legal. As a specialized industry, offshore and near-shore teams will have little to no experience executing on behalf of law firms. Get ready to see a lot of “best” and “guarantee” in your content.
Unlike buying a car, buying a website is a purchase of services, not a product.
Long story short, you get what you pay for when it comes to a website build. Investing in teams with a history of success is usually the right strategic move for your firm, but it comes with a price tag.
Differences between high quality and low quality law firm websites
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The best way to illustrate the difference between high quality and low quality builds will be through example. Apologies in advance if your firm is on the undesirable side of this list! Get in touch and we’ll bring you to the other end of the spectrum.
Examples of High Quality Law Firm Websites
Edwards Pottinger’s custom website (i.e. not a template) is the perfect embodiment of the law firm’s vision and ideals. Law firm websites should be like their practice: singular and unique.
High quality websites load quickly. This site appears loaded in under 1s and has its main content loaded in 1.1s, both metrics well within Google’s thresholds for page performance.
Websites with custom code tend to control HTML bloat better than visual builders. This website has optimized nesting to its leaf elements and uses no more tags than required, resulting in a leaner page which will serve visitors faster.
Examples of Low Quality Law Firm Websites
Visual builders generate bloated HTML (code) that result in poor page performance.
This site takes close to 9 seconds to load the content above the fold (e.g. the portion of the page you see when first loading the page). A law firm website should shoot for a 2s – 3s LCP (largest contentful paint).
This site simply does not pass the “smell test”. Law firm website design should enforce feelings of credibility and trust in site visitors.
Choosing a Legal Marketing Agency to Build Your Law Firm Website
Choosing a legal marketing agency for your firms’ new website is a highly personal process. What works for you might not be what works for your competition, or even your partner(s)! That said, there are a few common things you can look at when making a decision:
- Reviews of past clients. Don’t pay attention to the rating so much as the content of what folks are saying.
- Portfolio of work in legal. Most marketing agencies worth their salt have their own unique style. Make sure it aligns with your vision to avoid heartache (and heartburn) down the line.
- Team pedigree. Do the people understand legal and what goes into building a successful legal brand?
Think we might be a good fit? We hope so! Reach out for a free strategy session now.
Law Firm Website Cost: FAQs
Why does a law firm website cost so much?
Are there ways to lower the cost of a law firm website?
Is it normal for a law firm website to cost more than $10,000?