By: The NBI Team
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Practice Tips Series: How to Create a Lawyer Website
This article is a part of our Practice Tips Series: A Practice Resource for Solo and Small Practice Attorneys
For many solo and small practice lawyers, a $10,000 website is simply too much money. Creating a website from scratch might sound daunting, but it may be the best option if you’re just getting your practice off the ground. Want to know how to create a website for your law firm? We have you covered.
- Make a List of Needs and Wants
Even DIY websites will cost you money and time. Depending on your firm's needs, you may or may not need certain website features and capabilities. Before getting started with your website build, create a list of features and capabilities you need, and others that you may want.
To help you get started, we’ve created two sample lists.
Things You Need On Your Law Website
Although what you need will vary depending on your practice, there are certain website pages, features, and capabilities every lawyer needs. Some of these needs are compliance-related, while others are necessary for attracting and converting potential clients through your website.
- Contact information. Under ABA Model Rule 7.2, all lawyers and law firms must provide their contact information on any communication about their legal services. This requirement extends to attorney websites. Contact information should generally be included in the website’s footer.
- Contact Form. Contact forms allow website visitors to submit their contact information and an inquiry. Contact forms increase engagement and lead conversions.
- Website Disclaimer. For attorneys, a website disclaimer informs the website visitor that the website's contents are for information purposes only. If you need an example, check out DLA Piper’s website disclaimer.
- Mobile-Friendly Website Theme. Today, the majority of Google searches come from cell phones, not desktops. Because mobile-friendliness has become so important, Google considers how mobile-friendly a website is when determining Google rankings. So, to attract new visitors to your site, you’ll need it to make sure the theme you choose is mobile-friendly.
- Cookies Notice. Cookies notices inform website users that your website collects information in cookies. Notices will also allow the user to provide consent and make choices for which types of cookies your website is allowed to collect.
- Blog. Blogs are special pages that allow you to create articles and post them onto your website. Blogs are key to sustainable lawyer marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
Things You May Want for Your Law Website
Once you have the essentials, you’ll have to make choices about website elements you want, but don’t necessarily need. Below is a list of possible content, features, or capabilities you might want for your website:
- Social Media Integration. If you’re marketing your legal services through social media, you may want to select a website theme that integrates with your social media accounts so that you can post directly to your accounts from your website. This can also be done using apps.
- Live Chat Feature. Live chats allow website visitors to ask questions and receive answers live. If you’re considering using a live chat feature, consult your state’s rules of professional responsibility.
- Drag-and-Drop Design Capabilities. Some website builders have added the “drag-and-drop” building capability, which allows you to drag and drop new elements—like a text box or image—into the website. This capability allows for much more customization, but it can also make building and maintaining a website more labor-intensive.
- Built-in SEO Tools. SEO tools track website performance. They can measure how optimized your content is, how many visitors you have, how long they spend on each page, how high your website ranks for certain keywords, etc.
Estimating Your Budget
Building a website on your own will be much more affordable, but there are still costs. As you plan your website build consider the following costs:
- the rights to your website domain
- SSL certificate
- access to your website builder
- website theme or template
- SEO marketing tools
- plug-ins or integrated applications
In addition to these basic startup costs, also consider whether you will need to pay one of your staff members to manage the website.
Web Hosting Service
Websites need a server to exist on the internet. A server is a software that accepts requests from browsers to send the browser a copy of the website. Most people don’t have their own server, so they use what’s called a web hosting service.
A web hosting service allows the person building the website to host their website on the host’s server in exchange for a monthly or yearly fee. In the world of website design, paying for your “spot” on a server is often compared to renting a piece of real estate...virtual real estate, that is. Popular web hosting services include Bluehost, GoDaddy, and WP Engine.
How to Choose a Web Hosting Service
To build a website, you’ll need a web hosting service. There are countless options on the market. Here are some tips for choosing the hosting service that works for you:
- Choose a hosting service that works well with the website builder you choose. In some cases, a web host will give you a discount if you use a particular website builder.
- Consider using a web hosting service that is also a website builder.
- Always prioritize security. Choose a website host that is safe and secure.
- Review the host’s payment and upgrade policies. You want to be sure you will be able to upgrade your hosting if your needs change down the road.
There is no specific “law firm website builder,” however, there are many great website builders that can build a law firm website. A great website builder for a law firm will allow you to build your own website quickly, securely, and within budget. Most importantly, with a website builder, you won’t have to know about web design or how to write code.
Today, all website builders have website themes that you can choose from. Themes are customizable website templates. Although they’re often free, most premium themes won’t be.
For example, many WordPress themes are either free or somewhere around $40 to $70. Premium themes typically have more capabilities and better design elements. Other website builders charge a yearly subscription fee for advanced themes.
Popular website builders for lawyers include:
- Wix: Best for beginners.
- WordPress.com: Most capabilities.
- Squarespace: Best for creative online stores.
- Weebly: Great e-commerce capabilities.
- GoDaddy: Fast builder with solid basics.
How to Choose a Website Builder for Law
- Choose a website builder that fits your needs, your skill level, and the amount of time you have to put towards your website.
- Research each website builder’s pricing packages. You may get more bang for your buck with a particular builder, or you may not need all the features that a particular builder is offering.
- Browse the website builder’s templates. This might help you get an idea of what your website will be able to do.
Once you’ve chosen your website host and website builder, it’s time to choose a theme. Below are some tips for choosing the best theme for your law firm.
Make Sure Your Theme is Mobile-Friendly
As we already mentioned in this article: make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendly websites are responsive websites that adjust to the screen size of a smartphone. You can test how mobile-friendly your website is using Google’s mobile-friendly test.
Choose a Theme That Includes The Features You Need
Themes have different features depending on who they were designed for. There are themes created for artists, online stores, coffee shops, restaurants, accountants, and others. As a lawyer, you’ll want to find a theme that is either designed specifically for legal practice or for a professional service provider.
Also, make sure the website has features like a blog and contact forms. If you want to accept payment directly through your website, consider the theme’s integration capabilities and security.
Your theme will likely provide you with templates for some of your most common pages, such as your landing page and your services page. The first pages you’ll want to build include:
- landing page
- about page
- services or practice areas page
- contact page
- cookies policy
Be sure to create these pages before publishing your website. Once you’ve completed your initial website pages, test your contact form and have colleagues browse your website while it is still password protected. Colleagues can check for typos and give you feedback from a user perspective.
Tips for Building Your First Website Pages
Follow the tips below to get the most out of your web pages:
- Make sure each page has at least 650 - 750 words.
- Optimize each page for a given keyword.
- Include at least one image on every page, and make sure that each image has alternative text.
- Create at least one internal link for each page.
- Break up your text with headers.
- Use active voice, and keep it simple.
- Keep paragraphs short.
After you’ve published your website you’ll want to track your website’s performance. Website performance involves measuring how fast your website loads you’re website’s health, how many visitors you get every month, how long they stay on your website, whether they engage with your content, among other factors.
There are many ways of tracking website performance. First, you can track your website’s traffic and user behavior using Google Analytics, by downloading software, or by integrating Google Analytics with an app or plug-in from your website builder.
If you want to track how you’re ranking on Google, you may want to invest in an SEO tool, like SEMRush or Moz. These software tools track how your website is ranking on Google and other browsers. They can also help you choose what to write about, manage your pay-per-click marketing, and track your social media.
NBI offers a variety of CLE courses designed to help attorneys succeed in their everyday practice. Whether you're looking for cost-effective online marketing strategies or are looking to grow your small law firm, check out our law practice management catalog to start learning today!