A good law firm website needs a good design, but is that all? No!
Share knowledge instead of hiding books!
Remember: people come to your website through whatever channel probably because they have a legal problem or question. Now it's up to you to convince. Our advice: position yourself as an expert in your particular area of law. The best way to do this is to reveal your knowledge. It's clear that this is a wild idea for book stashers....
But consider this: Information gatherers who just want a legal question answered for free, they're going to get their information from the web anyway and not spend money on a lawyer. Or only then, when they have fallen on their face with the legal finds from Google. But then you are already in the back of their minds as a possible expert and might be mandated. So: book hiding was at university, now out with the knowledge and everything on the website that offers added value!
Clear user guidance on the website and behind it
Now you have diligently shared your knowledge and written a lot. Now let's consider the goal of the website: to turn visitors into clients. This works best if you make it easy to get in touch. And at all points where the visitor might be inclined to use your services. That could be at the end of a blog article, or in between. Most law firms whose websites we've examined seem to downright discourage contact. Often there is not even a contact form, but the potential client has to find the contact details from the imprint. Evening or lunch break and nobody on the phone? Now your competitor has the mandate. Integrate contact banners wherever it makes sense to you. And on every(!) page. Law firms that like to scale organize contacting professionally at this point: calls are routed to a call center like e-office or similar 24/7, collected inquiries go directly into a CRM system like Hubspot. The potential client is automatically informed immediately that their inquiry has been received and that their request is being taken care of. If required documents are still missing at this point (which is most of the time) - send an automated email requesting the potential client to send them in for review. Or send the required power of attorney and mandate conditions automatically at this point. This way you pass the ball back and the potential client feels excellently taken care of.
An essential component of our work is the joint development of a positioning and, ideally, a concrete legal product is derived from this that can be successfully marketed. It must become clear what you stand for and why the visitor should now contact you and not one of the 165,000 other lawyers also admitted to the bar in Germany. Without clear positioning, your website is strategically flying blind - and you can only hope that someone will call. The goal, however, is to specifically bring about these calls or messages via the contact form. Ideally, this differentiates your website from the ones you can have designers around the corner create the menu for a pizzeria the next day. You might mentally compare it to someone who can write a very good statement of claim, but doesn't know how to deliver it. Without this clear positioning, also please don't even think about putting your credit card on Google or Facebook and "doing a little advertising." It's in your eye!
The technology under the hood
The first important decision you have to make is the hosting. Probably you have already been cached with your domain by Strato or 1&1 or United-Domains as a customer. However, these are so-called bulk hosters. This means you share the reputation of your domain with thousands of other website owners. Which in turn can also influence whether your mails end up in the spam filter.
Let's distinguish three areas:
- Where is the domain located? It doesn't matter, it can stay with Strato or a mass domain registrar. The main thing is cheap. However, if you want to scale, we also recommend moving the domain to a stable mid-sized hoster. Hetzner is a good address here, but there are also others. The reason: to scale the law firm, individual settings in the DNS records are necessary. This is sometimes either extremely complicated or simply not sufficiently possible with the mass hosts.
- The web space: think of it as a folder where your website is stored. Here, make sure to choose a robust professional solution. For scaling your law firm, it is important that you can easily expand bandwidth and storage without having to move the project. We currently recommend Cloudways here. However, there are other good providers, but make sure you look for scalability. An advantage there is also the regular backups as well as a development environment. When you make changes to your website, it can sometimes happen that you accidentally "shoot down" the whole site. It's happened to everyone - it's just annoying when everything is broken and can't be restored to its last state at the push of a button.
- Emails: we usually use G-Suite from Google in the law firms where we are allowed to influence it or where they listen to us. There, all email addresses can be managed and configured centrally, shared calendars can be organized, documents can be managed together and many nice things more. We know the compliance concerns some here have. But decide for yourself. As far as we know here, this should be GDPR compliant.
About the technology of the website itself:
Our strategy in general when choosing tools is distribution and performance. You won't get anything out of a content management system programmed by an excellent developer that you won't learn to use in this lifetime or that binds you to that developer for life. Keyword "customer loyalty".
The content management system: WordPress
WordPress is the most used CMS for years. Advantage: it is constantly being developed by many different developers, there are endless plugins and interfaces to all conceivable third-party systems, and, most importantly, it is largely intuitive to use. The construction of the website should be handed over to professionals, but a quick change to the imprint or a blog post will be learned in half an hour, even if you are the most technophobic lawyer on earth! You have already mastered much more complex things! The basic idea of a CMS is to structurally separate design and technology from content. This way you can give access to employees who are allowed to write articles, but can't make other changes, for example. Or you may want to change the design at some point without losing the content, or shoot down the subpages that have been painstakingly registered with Google. For this a CMS.
Theme means the design template. Make sure to use a theme that is very popular. Don't take a free one but invest 50-100 Euro in a robust and extensive theme. For example, this website was created with Flatsome. But there are also good and pretty alternatives. These themes include tons of design templates from which you can choose how you want it.
The following plugins are in use on this website here and we do a similar configuration on law firm websites:
- Google Site Kit - seamlessly integrates Analytics and Search Console services, as well as a speed test, into your website
- Jetpack - we mainly use it here to automatically publish blog posts to Facebook and LinkedIn
- Hubspot plugin - links our CRM system to the website. This also immediately places the Facebook and LinkedIn tracking code on the website. Wonderful analysis and evaluation possibilities. Data protectionists please listen away 🙂 But is also GDPR compliant
- Simple Custom CSS and JS - a simple plugin that allows you to place any code on the page without having to experiment with the source code as a layman.
- WP Amazon SES SMTP - even though Google was recommended above for the law firm emails - on the website we use (on our own behalf) Amazon's mail dispatch, as it is not subject to any quantity restrictions as is the case with Google. For a law firm without mass proceedings, however, G-Suite from Google is completely sufficient.
- WP DSGVO Tools (GDPR) - creates all those pesky legal texts around data protection etc. You just specify which plugins you use on the site and the plugin creates a hopefully legally compliant privacy page and provides users with the ability to retrieve the stored data, etc.
- XML Sitemap & Google News - creates a sitemap to make it easier for the Google crawler to find the page
- Yoast SEO - optimizes the SEO suitability of the page. quite exciting, simply reindenken worthwhile once
- Duplicate Post - to quickly duplicate a page, for example, for different thank you pages.
- 10 Click Tip for Email Marketing
Depending on the objective of the website, other configurations are also used. This list has no claim to completeness in your specific case.
If you now say to yourself: I can actually do this myself with this information - then think back to our above-described law seeker, and why he is in better hands with his legal problem with you than to gather the know-how from the Internet: it depends on the implementation!