Should You Choose a Custom Website or Template Website?

156813954-sWhen running a law firm, one of the most important branding and marketing strategies is your website. How can you decide if your firm is better off with a template or a custom-built website? First, think about the goals, budget, and scope of your campaign. For example, if the main objective is a quick, low-cost redesign or the creation of your first website, a template-based website could be beneficial for your firm.

However, while many firm owners create their own websites using templates through sites like FindLaw or LexisNexis, these templates may not fit into your overall marketing strategy or long-term budget. For example, you may set up a website that is functional for the time being, but you may later want to add features such as contact forms which may only be created for an extra fee, or not at all with the template have you chosen. Alternatively, the website may continue to function, but may be incompatible with key features of SEO or digital advertising campaigns. Therefore, plan ahead and make sure your website is not only effective for today, but for the next 2-5 years.

First Impressions

Your website is oftentimes the first point of contact with a client, and you want to make a good first impression. Consider that the average amount of time a viewer spends on a webpage is less than one minute. Therefore, you want to figure out how to quickly convert visitors. First, your website should look professional and should be carefully constructed to influence viewers to stay as long as possible.

Features

Many cookie-cutter website templates allow you to change colors, text, and a few stock pictures, but not much else. These templates have the bare essentials of a website, like a home page and a few informational pages, but may not maximize your firm’s potential. To avoid choosing the wrong type of template, you may consider one that allows you to edit your own content. Make sure you can add or adjust your logo, choose your own images, change text, add pages and edit the site’s HTML. This way, you are able to use a template, but give your website the look of a custom site.

On the other hand, if you are interested in a custom site, a Web designer can fully customize your website to relay your firm’s message with landing pages, in-depth bios, and multimedia content. Designers can add special features that a template often cannot, like live chat, a blog, and a contact form. These features allow for the most interaction between you and your client base. Keep in mind that, while beneficial, these features may come at an additional cost.

Branding

Many places offering to create your site have a limited number of templates — which makes it difficult to create a brand for your firm and differentiate yourself from the competition. If you are going to use a template, the ability to write your own content and update it as your firm requires will be the most important feature on your site. In addition, you may also consider adding pages to your website down the line to include additional features. Therefore, be sure you choose a template that is flexible in the number of pages you are offered, as many people offering templates will not be willing to change this for your firm’s needs.

Professional designers can also set the tone for your branding by creating a logo, banner, or color scheme that will make your business memorable in the minds of consumers. Designers are also able to ensure a consistent visual brand that can be used across all marketing materials (print, digital, TV, etc.) which will strengthen your reputation and promote recognition among potential clients.

Goals

Whether you’re redesigning your website or creating the first versions of a site, you should keep in mind the goals you want to achieve. The most influential factor between a template and a custom website is usually cost. A template may be created for a cheaper price, but it may not do much for your firm. For example, it may not be optimized for search engines. A custom site can include keywords, appropriate backlinks, and landing pages, to provide you with a website that ensures it is getting the visibility it deserves. More visibility means more clients and, therefore, may be the better investment.

If the only money in your marketing budget is devoted to building and maintaining a website, a template is most likely the best option for you. If you plan on implementing other marketing strategies such as search engine optimization, public relations, direct mail, or advertising, it would benefit you to opt for a custom design.

Associated Costs

Along with price, you should consider any contracts or recurring fees that may be associated with either type of website. Many firm owners start with a website from a large provider and often want additional features later on that they will not provide or will only provide for a hefty fee. Unfortunately, if you try to take your website elsewhere for better quality management, there is only so much that can be done until your contract expires.

Ownership

Lastly, determine the importance of website ownership to your firm. Many firm owners will not receive the rights to their website and are unable to make significant edits or allow the site to be hosted or managed by another company. Later, if you decide to take your website elsewhere you may find that it is not built to be compatible with other hosting or management firms. This is something you may want to keep in mind for the editability of your website and is indicative of the quality of services you will likely receive.

No matter which form you feel is best for your firm’s website, consider the importance your site will have in your firm’s success. If you are interested in creating a website or updating your current website, contact PR4Lawyers at info@PR4Lawyers.com or 1-866-PR4Laywers for a free consultation.

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