The first 3 things to ask when developing your firm’s next website

It’s a task that few want to be saddled with – developing the law firm’s next website. Senior partners and associates are too focused on paying the bills and winning decisions. The IT guy is too busy fixing someone’s email, or server issues, and the student in the office just doesn’t seem up to it.

So, you start shopping for quotes from web development agencies. Well, before you go shopping for quotes, you should have a few solid expectations in mind.

What will be driving the site development strategy?

If it’s not quantitative data, find a door and get out. When representing any client, a web development agency should be facilitating an exhaustive “discovery session” with your firm to find out exactly what business you want to be in. After all, you likely have plenty of clients. What you should be interested with is getting better ones. A target should be attracting the clients that match your expertise, specifically, offering you the opportunity to maximize positive results, yields, and profit margins.

This type of quantitative data that I refer to is search engine research. This involves going out and taking the keyword points from a firm’s initial discovery session and compiling search phrase / keyword data that confirms early suspicions, or sheds light on new opportunities and spaces where the law firm can effectively compete online. Beginning any site development with the structural bones of hard data ultimately results in more traffic and focused client conversions.

Keep everyone in the room accountable

Typical web contract relationships start with an initial deposit, and then a final payment. That’s it. The concrete is setting, you have paid your money, and now you hope the site you just bought from the web agency will bare fruit.

What if it doesn’t? What if it’s performing under expectations? You are suddenly out of pocket and coming to realize that the “salesmanship” of the web site experience well outweighed the sustenance you expected. There is no recourse in these scenarios.

The way we see it at JustLaw is to partner up with law firms and allow them to pay us on a pay-as-you-go basis. Have you never heard of this before? Not likely. Basically, if you don’t like the site, its search engine / in-bound phone call performance, the aesthetic design, or even your bio’s head shot – you can stop paying. Fire us. Cut it off.

It’s that simple. If JustLaw can meet the expectations we have created with our sales pitch, we truly expect to keep your business. The upside for you and your firm is that financial risk has been instantly minimized, you get exactly what you want, and there is a team of online law marketing experts constantly doing the gardening for you, making sure you are performing on a monthly basis.

Isn’t that how it should be?

Everything needs to be justified

When was the last time your “Color Pages” rep, or your last web agency, came in on a monthly basis to explain to why they were a good investment? It probably never happens. With the “Color Pages” they come around in September, take the money, and run. You might get a free lunch 365 days later. Other web guys are not much better.

With everything that can be tracked and measured online, you should have access to the monthly performance of you marketing assets. Sometimes marketing efforts can just go from strength to strength, and other times they can lull and require examination and adjustments. It’s in these moments of lowered marketing performance that you need to be aware someone is looking out for your invested dollars. Start looking at your your web agency and your website as a financial adviser tending to your website as it rides on a stock market of search engine rank pages (SERPs). You deserve to have someone come into your office on a monthly basis, explaining what they are doing with your firm’s money.

At JustLaw we meet with our clients on a monthly basis, providing monthly performance reports that layout where you are competing online, where your traffic is coming from, the keywords people are using to find you and what information they are seeking on your site. Above all, you need to know whether your site is converting on the goals we have set (phone calls & Emails).

If there are issues – it’s our responsibility to correct them. If we can’t, then we can’t expect to keep your firm’s business.

Posted on July 29th, 2010