Hiring a company to design and maintain your law firm website this is a big decision. It can be expensive, but even more so if you don’t pick the right one. So getting it right the first time can both save you money and make you money at the same time.
But how do you decide which one to hire? You can check Google reviews to see who has the most five-star ratings and the most rabid fans, but if you don’t know the right questions to ask (and what the right answers are), you can still pick the wrong one. So here are the questions you should be asking when you talk to potential web design companies to see if they are the right one for you.
Who owns the domain name?
If you already have a good, registered domain name, then this becomes simpler. Hopefully, when you did register it, you made it clear that you are the owner of that domain name, and not anyone else. Ask any potential web design company whether they can design a site under your domain name, and whether you retain ownership of it.
If you don’t already have a registered domain name, the design company you are considering may well offer to register it for you, and keep the name renewed every year. Be very careful here. Make sure that you maintain ownership rights of the domain name, not the design company. This is so that if you decide to leave this company, you don’t leave your domain name behind.
Who owns the content?
Whether you are writing the content for your website, or the web site company is, you need to be the owner of the content itself. It should be copyrighted to you. This is even more important than owning the domain name, because if the web company owns the content, and you decide to move on to another provider, you don’t want to leave all that content behind.
Also make sure that there is an easy way to “scrape” the content from the site to a file on your computer system that you can later upload to the new website. You may well own the content, but if it is an arduous and time-consuming process to move that content to a new site, it can be very expensive and disruptive.
Does it have an easy-to-use back-end system for adding content (and will they teach you how to use it)?
If you want your law firm website to rank well with Google and be successful, you must be constantly adding content. As the saying goes, “content is king.” if you are not regularly adding content every single week, your website will not do well. The option to write the content yourself, and not be forced to use the web company’s content writers. You should also be able to post a content to the website yourself, and not send the content to the company to post for you. This can lead to delays in updates to your website and make it less nimble.
The best way, if you’re going to write it yourself, is to have a web design company that has an easy to use content management system (CMS) that is simple to use. It should be easy to learn and implement. Writing content is time-consuming enough, without struggling to master the arcane features of the vendor’s software. That vendors should also offer training in the use of that platform.
Does it have a CRM or integrate well with one?
Your website has to have more than content to be successful; it has to have a way of garnering leads. It should, at the very least, have a contact form on every page for website visitors to fill out. That information then has to go into a contact relationship management (CRM) system. This system should not only maintain a list of contacts, but allow you to market to them through direct response email.
For this reason, the hosting and design company must either have their own or integrate easily with third party platforms, like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Keap (formerly InfusionSoft). if the vendor has their own, then the more sophisticated and powerful the system, the better.
Can you access the site’s Google Analytics?
All the marketing that you do needs to be measured in some way, so that you can compare the data to your key performance indicators (KPIs) to see how well (or poorly) the pages on your site are doing. This will then enable you to write more of the content that converts visitors, and less of the content that doesn’t.
Be sure that the website provider can give you access to Google Analytics for this site. This will give you more information than you ever wanted to know about your website’s content, including bounce rate (when the visitor hit the back button after reading the page), time on page, number of visitors, and the average number of pages that the prospect read while they were on your site.
Need a Wingman?
This is an important decision to make, and you might be thinking that you need help with it, even if it’s only a second opinion. Just send me an e-mail with the particulars on the vendors, and we can schedule a strategy session to discuss a decision. I made the wrong choice initially, then the right choice, and I’ve been with them for over 10 years now. Let me help you make the right decision the first time!
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