Ten Key Questions to Ask

Website Development
 

If your firm needs to update your website, it can be a daunting task sorting through the numerous website development vendors. How do you know which to choose?  Here are 10 key questions to ask:

  1. What is their experience level? There are many newcomer wanna-be website developers.  Don’t become their experiment.  A qualified website developer should have many years of experience and at least 100 websites developed. This experience helps the developer in myriad ways to avoid problems and quickly resolve issues, instead of learning on your dime.
  1. Do they have extensive experience working with lawyers? Once you’ve narrowed down the list based on minimal experience requirements, the major hurdle is finding a developer that actually understands law firms. This is the biggest complaint law firms have about website developers – most don’t understand the practice of law, so they require hand-holding and daily management to make sure they get the website done right.  Isn’t that their job?  These developers are no more than order-takers who must be told exactly what to do at every step.  If you’ve been through this drama, you know how much time you’ve wasted and you’ll never want to do it again.
  1. Do they have internal staff that can write the content? We’ve found that 90% of our clients don’t like writing about themselves (individually), and most prefer to have help in writing the firm’s marketing content. Very few website developers have this in-house expertise; most source it to a freelance writer, which can cause delays, miscommunication and often result in an end-product that doesn’t represent your firm. 
  1. Do they offer branding expertise? Will the website look similar to your other marketing materials? Or will it look very different and contrast your branding?  Does it incorporate other key elements of your firm’s brand (i.e., branding is the combination of name, words, symbols or design that identifies your company and it’s products/services and differentiates it from the competition)? 
  1. Do they know how to position your firm in the market? Marketing professionals know how to identify what your target market wants and how to best position your firm. This is done in combination with your branding campaign and involves sophisticated strategic marketing expertise. 
  1. Are their designs modern and attractive to your target market? Of course, you’ll want a design that is mobile-friendly (i.e., “mobile responsive”), looks contemporary and offers up-to-date technology.  Another key factor is that the design is right for your market; not too surprisingly, many website developers try to convince you to use a website template that they designed for other industries (e.g., retail, construction, manufacturing, etc.) – which are entirely inappropriate for law firms. 
  1. Can they customize the design to meet your needs? Or do they offer a small number of templates, so that your website looks like many others using the same design? Instead of a hugely expensive fully-custom programmed website, do they offer alternatives to tailor the website design to your firm’s specific requirements?
  1. Who will supervise your project? It can be very frustrating working with someone who isn’t involved hands-on with programming your website. Or they are sub-contracting to another firm several time zones away.  Or you communicate your desires clearly but the draft isn’t anything like what you requested.  Instead, work with a website development firm that has a local team, speaks your language, and can quickly respond to your requests.
  1. What is their turnaround time? Did you know that many website developers require over 6 months to build and launch your website? Choose a developer that can complete your project within 60-90 days (of course, as long as you are available to quickly respond to any questions).
  1. Is the work done domestically or overseas? If you don’t ask this question, you may find out the hard way (after you’ve hired the firm) that the underlying reason with the problems in developing your website the way want it are that it is being programmed through sub-contractor vendors on the other side of the world. This can result in slow turnaround, poor communication, and overall frustration with the project.  Instead, work with a website development firm that does all programming domestically, preferably on the West Coast (being in the same time zone helps in minimizing delays). 

Using this list, you should be able to identify a website developer that meets your firm’s needs.  At the same time, this can help you to avoid hiring a firm that is costly, time-consuming and designs an inadequate website.

At The Specialists in Law Firm Marketing, we focus on developing websites that are visually attractive, rich in useful and interesting content, designed with logical navigation, and built around fundamental marketing concepts. Our assistance includes site design, text writing, graphic design, marketing strategy, and integration with other marketing programs, such as social media.  Contact us to discuss building your firm’s new website!