Let’s talk about business costs today, shall we?
When you take a look at how much money you spend to keep your law firm running—and running well—it’s by no means a drop in the bucket. In fact, you could say it’s out and out expensive. Costs include:
- Office rent
- Equipment and other office supplies
- Legal software and cloud subscriptions
- Local, state, and federal taxes
- Business license
- Professional licenses
- Bar association fees
- Property insurance
- Malpractice insurance
- Employee health insurance
- Employee salaries and other paid benefits
- Professional membership fees
- Consultant and other third-party fees
The costs don’t stop there either. We no longer live in a day and age where foot traffic and word-of-mouth are enough to generate new leads for your firm. You have to market your legal services if you want to grow your client list, and the first place to start is with a company website.
Weighing the Options for Your Law Firm’s Website
Here’s the thing: websites can become quite expensive, very fast. When you get into the habit of outsourcing work and responsibilities that are outside your wheelhouse (like accounting, administrative duties, and so on), you probably assume it’ll be easier to hand this over to an agency that specializes in website development. However, that would likely be a bad decision. Here’s why:
You hire a high-end web design agency to build your site. They load it up with all the bells and whistles, ensure that it runs at top speed, and tout its ability to generate leads like nobody’s business. The price tag on all this work? Realistically, you’re looking at upwards of $10,000.
You hire a mid-tier agency or freelance developer to build your site, hoping to save costs but still outsource the work. They do a good enough job and likely charge between $3,000 and $6,000, depending on what you ask for. The only problem with this option? You could easily build a site that looks just as good and works nearly as well as the one they’ve created for you.
Use the WordPress content management system to build your own website and save a ton of cash.
When it comes to making smart business decisions, outsourcing is almost always a good idea. But not when it comes with such an extravagant, and unnecessary, cost. Sure, the process of creating a website can become complicated when a website consists of hundreds of pages and various payment gateways to process customer transactions. But that’s not what your website needs.
Let’s take a look at what the ideal law firm website should consist of and how much it should realistically cost you to make.
The True Cost of Building a Website for Your Law Firm
The great thing about Scenario C is that you don’t need to be a professional developer in order to build your company’s website. With so many well-crafted themes and plugins for the WordPress platform, anyone can build a high-performance website. And it won’t cost you more than a couple hundred dollars a year to do it. Max.
If you’re interested in cutting back on unnecessarily high expenditures for your firm and want to see how much this’ll actually run you, then this list of website essentials is for you.
#1: Web Hosting
In order to publish a website on the Internet, you need a server (basically, a high-powered computer) to run it on. Servers cost a lot of money and require serious expertise to manage them, so this is why most businesses use web hosting. Simply find a provider, choose a plan that makes sense for your website’s size and bandwidth needs, and then pay a month-to-month rental fee. These are the hosts WordPress recommends.
Cost: $5-10 per month for shared hosting
Your website now needs a name and an address (URL) on which it can live. Once you’ve signed up for web hosting, you can search for available domain names and register the one you want through your host.
Cost: $10-15 per month
WordPress is free to use. And since it’s the most popular content management system in the world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a web hosting company that doesn’t provide the WordPress app immediately upon signup. Go to your host’s dashboard account and you should see “WordPress” waiting for you. Simply download and then you’re ready to start building your website!
#4: Responsive Web Design
Before you do anything else, you’ll want to find a theme for your website. This is a professionally made design created by web designers for WordPress, which means the design will be cleanly coded, responsive (i.e. it auto-adjusts based on the size screen it’s viewed on), and integrates seamlessly into your content management system.
While there are free themes available through WordPress, we’d suggest you find a premium multi-purpose theme through ThemeForest. These typically come with designer support, over 20 different design templates to play around with, built-in tools for SEO, as well as a drag-and-drop builder which makes creating websites easy.
Every law firm needs to include certain pages on their website. Here are the most common ones we’ve found:
- Home page
- Attorney bios
- Practice specialties
- Client testimonials
New pages of content are easy enough to set up using WordPress. However, it’s the actual writing of the content that can be tough. Thankfully, there are less than ten pages that need to be created and less is always better when it comes to writing digital content.
Note: if you choose to write this content yourself, don’t forget to factor in the time you spent since that technically counts as a cost.
#6: Contact Form
Let’s face it: most clients would rather fill out a form and wait for your call rather than have to make that call themselves, so a contact form is an absolute must. WordPress has tens of thousands of plugins available for free through their site, so poke around and find one you like. Contact Form 7 is by far the most popular and well-reviewed of the plugins, so you might want to start there.
#7: Other Plugins
There are many reasons you’d want to use other plugins from the WordPress repository.
- To speed up your site.
- To increase security.
- To improve your search rankings.
- To add popup notifications.
- To include social media buttons.
- And more.
Once your site is up and running, we’d urge you to bookmark the WordPress plugins page as it has a lot of valuable tools you may need in the future.
It doesn’t matter if you want to attract a millennial clientele or baby boomers. Everyone appreciates high-quality visuals. They demonstrate professionalism, improve the reading experience, and convey a certain image on behalf of your law firm. If you have high-resolution photos of your firm, use those. If not, you can purchase high-quality and professional-looking stock photography from sites like Adobe for a reasonable price.
Cost: $0-$30 per month
#9: WordPress Support
Getting your site up and running is a breeze. That being said, keeping it in tip-top shape does require some work. Rather than try to monitor your own security and manage updates on your own (which is something that should be done weekly, if not daily), then we’d recommend outsourcing to a WordPress support and maintenance provider like WPMaintainer. The peace of mind is worth it.
Cost: $99 per month
As you can see, it doesn’t require coding expertise or a wide array of expensive third-party integrations to create a beautiful and high-performing website for your law firm. WordPress is an intuitive platform that comes chock-full of tools, which make it possible for you to build your own website without breaking the bank.
At the end of the day, this is really about making smart decisions for your business. Would you rather have a super-powered website with bells and whistles you don’t need and can’t afford to do anything with anyway because you spent all your money on the site? Or would you rather have a great-looking site that works well while still having enough money left over to invest in something you actually need, like professional law firm marketing services?