Building and keeping a well-oiled website should seem like a no-brainer for any attorney in the twenty-first century. However, there are many aspects of creating and maintaining such a site that are not commonly considered. In fact, there are many cases in which attorneys are completely bewildered by the steps needed to have their own site. Hopefully the tips below can make the process less of a puzzle. I’m a former webmaster and have used by skills to save my firm thousands of dollars and help others in the process.
There are many ways to get to the same goal, and each is much easier than commonly believed. As a matter of fact, there are many advantages to being your own webmaster or having one on your staff. A lot of companies will offer all-in-one packages to do website design and upkeep. Many of these deals are very stylish but often expensive. What could cost several hundred dollars in house could balloon by an order of magnitude if you’re not careful.
Finding a Good Domain
The first step is to find the appropriate domain for your firm. Often firms decide to use their legal name before the suffix– so smithjohnsonpartners.com, for example. Sometimes such a name is already taken and there has to be creative ways to counteract this. This is sometimes done by choosing a .org, .net, .biz, or other ending for your url. Make sure to check if your site name is available before making any further steps.
Once you have your domain name searched out and purchased, you can either start from scratch or build a site with your previous information. Your site will now be on your website hosting provider with a DNS. You will be able to access these files from anywhere and give you great flexibility. Some firms host themselves, but this may be a bit too advanced for novice webmasters.
The most common domain purchasing company and web host is GoDaddy. The site, along with others such as HostGator, offer a chance to have reliable– or not so reliable– uptime for your site. With such a company now involved, you can weigh the benefits and liabilities of their service as well as have representatives available in case you need assistance.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a webhost and their level of service. For many simple sites, there is a relatively low price tag, usually under $20 per month. This can be an important factor, but it often takes a backseat to the uptime of your site.
Much of it has to do with bandwidth that can come to and from your site. Most hosts have limits that could cause your site to crash if it became very popular overnight. However, you don’t want to pay for bandwidth that you don’t use.
You can also choose whether you want shared or unshared hosting. This is important because it determines if one server is hosting multiple sites. If you are sharing the server with other sites, it could cause your site to load slower or with issues. However, it may be more expensive to not share.
You can also choose your service depending on whether or not it includes easy access to popular platforms and applications, including WordPress.
You should be very aware of the estimated uptime and downtime depending on the provider. You do not want to choose one with a history of shoddy service and high rates of website failure.
You should also consider the potential web support reviews of the company. Does the company outsource its phone and chat assistance? Are there many issues of waiting on the phone for an hour to talk to someone. Technical support can be one of the most important parts of having a site– you don’t want to be caught without it.
Consider how your host handles SEO and whether or not it includes helpful tips and webinars on the topic. Does it force you to abandon search engine optimization script if you change providers?
Does your host include a backup plan in case of crashes? Does it back up your data or to you store the files on your computer just in case? How long can its service be down at a time?
How easy is it to move hosts if and when the need arises? Will it require hours and hours of paid work or can the files be easily transferred?
These factors and more are important to be considered, especially if your firm has a low web budget. Consider the value of your site and the flexibility it allows your company in its expansion.
Michael Ehline is a personal injury and workplace accident specialist in the Los Angeles area. His firm, Ehline Law, has taken the lead in web presence in the area, and Michael is a former webmaster. He works with other attorneys through the Circle of Legal Trust and offers assistance for many up-and-coming lawyers.
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