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If you are considering creating a website for your law practice, you may be tempted to try to save money and do it yourself (read to the end to learn about Wix and Squarespace specifically!)
While this is one option, many lawyers find after they undertake this huge project that they do not have the time or experience to learn how to create a website that actually converts potential clients into actual clients. In the end, attempting to DIY your law firm website can cost you a lot more in the long run.
What Is a DIY Website?
A DIY website is one that you make on your own without the help of a professional website designer. There are many tools today that can help people build all types of websites. Many use templates and do not require any knowledge of computer coding. While these sites can make it easier to create a website, they also come with many drawbacks.
Dangers and Drawbacks of DIY Websites
Some of the most important dangers and drawbacks of using DIY websites include:
Weak First Impressions
While these tools are relatively easy to use, they are also generic. Many of these DIY websites are not legal-specific, so they may not be tailored to fit your particular needs. These template make many websites look the same with the same styles, layout, and navigation structure. You cannot generally make major changes to these aspects of the design.
Additionally, a lot of these DIY websites have amateurish aesthetics. Consumers are increasingly savvy and can tell when someone has invested in their website and when they have not. They may not have colors that appeal to your target audience. Poor design attributes can cause potential clients to leave the site quickly.
When there are so many lawyers in the market, a good website can help you stand apart from the crowd. Your website should reflect your brand. This may require using a customized color combination, trademarks, and tailored content. A good website can provide a great first impression while a generic one can provide a weak one.
Lack of ADA Accessibility
Businesses that are open to the public are required to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities, according to the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Some of the ways that websites may not be accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) include:
- Poor color contrast makes content difficult to read.
- Only color is used to give information, making it meaningless for people who are color-blind.
- There are no alt text on images so people who are blind may not be able to understand what the picture is supposed to be conveying.
- The website features no captions or videos, making the content inaccessible to people with hearing or vision disabilities.
- Online forms that are inaccessible to people with disabilities because they lack clear instructions, relevant labels, or error indicators.
- A lack of keyboard navigation may make it difficult for people with disabilities to access the content.
According to SHRM.org, there were 11,400 people who filed a lawsuit under the ADA for digital accessibility problems in 2021, a 320% increase since such data has been tracked in 2013. Violating the ADA’s rules on this matter can result in fines between $55,000 to $75,000.
Knowledgeable web developers can ensure that your website is ADA compliant. They are familiar with standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and the Section 504 Standards. A professional web designer can also run your website through a tool such as Accessibility Checker to determine if it meets ADA guidelines.
Unmet Technological Needs
If you have pretty basic needs for your website and do not expect it to generate a profit, you may be fine to make a DIY website. However, today’s websites come with increasingly sophisticated designs and features, such as the ability to add a secure payment portal for clients, an appointment scheduling function, a chat box to communicate briefly with potential clients or answer questions, and other high-tech functions. These requirements may necessitate having a professional web developer create your website.
DIY websites may be lax on security, which could potentially expose you to liability if your clients’ information is stolen as a result. A secure website typically requires that you keep all your software up to date.
Outdated code from a DIY website may translate to limited functionality, which can negatively impact website performance by:
- Slowing website speed – If you use a DIY website service, your site will be hosted on a server that also hosts hundreds of other websites, which can result in limited bandwidth that causes slow loading. Most consumers will leave a website if it takes more than a mere three seconds for the page to load.
- Making confusing navigation – DIY websites generally have preset navigation structures. Therefore, they are not customized to your users’ needs. Instead, they may be set up similar to a website for a retail store, mechanic, florist, insurance company, or other business that has nothing to do with legal services. Your users’ needs may not be met with a generic navigation structure and can cause a poor user experience that hurts, rather than helps, your business.
- Having unworking plugins – Plugins, widgets, and other design features may not work, further detracting from the user’s experience.
- Creating security issues – Shared servers can also create additional security issues. If another website gets hacked that is on the same server, other sites may be vulnerable to security breaches.
Not Mobile Friendly
Another important reason to use a professional web designer is that they know how to optimize your page for mobile use. Many web users use cellphones, tablets, and other small-scale devices to find service providers, including legal service providers. The way a consumer experiences a website is different when they use a PC or laptop than when using a mobile device. Professional web designers can build websites with responsive design so that the website adjusts based on the size and dimensions of the device loading it. DIY websites are not built with responsive design. This means that you will have a hard time connecting with mobile users and meeting their needs. It is a much better business plan to adapt to the needs of your potential clients to make it easier for them to find your firm, contact you, and get the information they need. Additionally, Google penalizes websites that are not mobile friendly, which can cause them to rank lower on search results.
Poor Search Engine Optimization
Speaking of search results, DIY websites do not provide good search engine optimization (SEO). Because they use templates, they are not focused on the quality of the content you produce. Therefore, they will not typically have good recommendations regarding keywords, link building, and other features that would otherwise allow your site to rank higher in search engines like Google. Without strong SEO, fewer people will be able to find your firm.
DIY websites generally do not come with built-in SEO tools. Many of these websites do not allow Google to verify websites with their Webmaster Tools, which further harms your search rankings. A web designer can use tools to optimize your site. Additionally, search engines often update their algorithms regularly. A professional web designer can stay abreast of these changes much more easily than an outdated DIY website builder.
A professional web designer can craft a SEO campaign by taking several steps, such as:
- Conducting comprehensive keyword research
- Reviewing search queries to find the type of information that your target audience is searching for
- Optimizing certain elements of your website, such as title tags and meta descriptions
- Linking to internal and external pages
- Using geo-targeting terms to appear in relevant area searches
Law Quill can help set up your website by using SEO best practices that are tailored to help you connect with more potential clients.
Lack of Monitoring
Many DIY websites also do not allow you to integrate with Google Analytics or other critical monitoring tools. These tools can help you obtain important information about how your website is performing. You can make adjustments to improve your SEO strategy, as well as perform on-page optimization for internal website pages. This strategy allows you to make real-time changes to your website based on your current search rankings.
Web designers can also use other tools that can allow them to get feedback from clients or visitors to your site to help you better improve user experience.
Should Law Firms DIY Their Website?
While it is possible for law firms to create their websites using DIY website builders or templates, it is generally not recommended. Here are some reasons why:
- Lack of Expertise: Building a website requires expertise in web design, development, content creation, and SEO. Law firms may not have the necessary skills or experience to create a professional-looking website that effectively represents their brand and meets their specific needs.
- Time-Consuming: Building a website can be a time-consuming process, especially for those without experience. Law firm attorneys and staff may be better off focusing on their core competencies, such as providing legal services to clients, rather than spending time building and managing a website.
- Risk of Mistakes: DIY websites may not be optimized for search engines, may have poor navigation or functionality, and may not be compatible with all devices. This can lead to a poor user experience for potential clients, which can harm the law firm’s reputation and online presence.
- Lack of Customization: Many DIY website builders and templates offer limited customization options, which can make it challenging for law firms to create a website that accurately reflects their brand and meets their specific needs.
- Legal Compliance: Law firm websites are subject to strict ethical and legal guidelines, and DIY website builders may not provide the necessary tools and features to ensure compliance. This can put the law firm at risk of violating legal or ethical rules and regulations.
Therefore, while it is possible for law firms to DIY their website, it is generally not recommended. It is better to work with professional web designers and developers who have experience in building websites for law firms and can ensure that the website is optimized for search engines, is user-friendly, and complies with legal and ethical guidelines.
Why You Should Never Use Wix or Squarespace for a Law Firm Website
While Wix and Squarespace are popular DIY website builders that offer templates and easy-to-use drag-and-drop interfaces, they are generally not recommended for law firm websites. Here are some reasons why:
- Limited Customization: Wix and Squarespace offer limited customization options, which can make it challenging for law firms to create a website that accurately reflects their brand and meets their specific needs. The templates may not be designed for legal websites, which can result in a website that does not comply with legal and ethical guidelines or provide the necessary functionality for a law firm.
- Poor SEO: Wix and Squarespace websites are known for their poor search engine optimization (SEO). While both platforms offer some basic SEO tools, they do not offer the same level of customization and optimization that a professional website design and development company can provide. A law firm’s website that does not rank well in search engine results may not attract the traffic it needs to generate leads and revenue.
- Limited Functionality: Wix and Squarespace may not offer the same level of functionality as a professional website design and development company. A law firm’s website may require specific features such as secure client portals, online appointment booking, or legal resources, which may not be available on these platforms.
- Lack of Support: Wix and Squarespace offer limited support for their users, and law firms may not have access to the technical assistance they need to manage and update their website. This can lead to technical difficulties, security vulnerabilities, or other issues that can harm the law firm’s online reputation and put it at risk of legal or ethical violations.
While Wix and Squarespace may be tempting options for law firms looking to build a website on a budget, they are generally not recommended. A professional website design and development company can provide the necessary expertise, customization, functionality, and support to ensure that the law firm’s website is professional, compliant, user-friendly, and optimized for search engines.
How Much Does a Law Firm Website Cost?
The cost of a law firm website can vary depending on various factors such as the complexity of the design, the features required, the level of customization, and the experience of the web development team.
Generally, the cost of a law firm website can range from a few thousand dollars for a basic website to tens of thousands of dollars for a more complex website with advanced features. Some of the factors that can affect the cost of a law firm website include:
- Customization: The level of customization required for the website can affect the cost. A website that requires a high level of customization may cost more.
- Features: The features required for the website, such as online booking, appointment scheduling, or live chat, can increase the cost.
- Content: The amount of content required for the website, including text, images, and videos, can affect the cost. More content means more work for the web development team.
- Design: The complexity of the design required for the website can also affect the cost. A simple design may cost less, while a more complex design can cost more.
- Maintenance: The cost of maintaining the website, including updates and security, can add to the overall cost.
Get a Great Law Firm Website with Law Quill
Many lawyers need their website to produce revenue for their firms. Your website is the starting point for many potential clients. Therefore, it is worth the time and money to design your website in a way that is optimized for web searches and to connect clients with your firm. If you would like to avoid the drawbacks associated with DIY websites, consider scheduling a phone or Zoom call or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation.