2015 09 11 Web Design for Solo Small

Web development is a much more dynamic process than it was previously. If you’re not refreshing your site every 2 to 3 years, you’ve fallen behind the times. No longer can you design a site and let it sit for years on end. You need to keep both your content and design fresh. If not, you’ll have a much harder time attracting and converting potential clients.

Since we like to (or at least we try to) practice what we preach, we’ve recently updated our own website consistent with current web marketing trends. Our last web update was approximately two years ago, and it was certainly time for a refresh.

Fortunately, both Rachel and I are competent in WordPress, which is the content management system that we use and highly recommend to solo and small firms. This meant that we were able to make many of the design changes ourselves and manage the site moving forward. However, our primary job responsibilities do not include web design, and thus we are not professionals in the field. Developing a website can be a time-consuming tasks worthy of outsourcing. Unless you have a deep interest in it, time to spend, and a lot of patience, why waste your precious billable time? Rather, spend your time reviewing your site’s content to ensure that it is accurate and relevant.

Ted Bettencourt, owner of Online Business Creators, offered to help us out pro bono. Ted is an attorney by training. He’s also got an MBA. His business provides website development, search engine optimization, content creation, and social media assistance.

Ted got us started by recommending the WordPress theme, Avada, by Theme Fusion. Choosing a WordPress website theme is half the battle. You want one that incorporates the latest web trends, has a robust set of features for customization, and is user friendly. Avada is all that.

After securing our theme, it was time for customization. Here’s where your developer (for us, Ted) can really shine. Avada offers many self-explanatory settings, but sometimes requires a bit of coding to make it look just right. This all starts with your homepage. Think about what you want your website to say to your visitors. For us, our goal was to make the site client centric. Thus, our homepage needed to be clean (not too busy with text) and provide one-click access to our most important services. Most site visitors spend a very limited amount of time on a website (I’m talking seconds, not minutes), and therefore, you need to catch their attention quickly. That means limiting the text on the page; because, let’s face it, no one’s reading it anyhow. To round out the homepage, we added some images to make it visually appealing.

Beyond the homepage, the other site pages followed suit – simple, clean, and straight to the point. We used the footer as a sitemap, providing links to all our services and resources. That way, no matter what page you visit, you can always scroll to the bottom to find what you are looking for. Of course, following best practices, our contact information appears on each page in the header. Our blog remains on our website, helping to keep our content dynamic and to drive traffic to our site.

Having just been through the process, I recognize that a website refresh is not a small feat. It requires planning, brainstorming, and hard work. But, it’s a necessary evil in today’s legal market. This applies regardless of whether you get your clients directly from the Internet or via referrals. A potential client or referral source who Googles you doesn’t want to see an outdated and irrelevant website. They want to know that you’re someone who keeps up on industry trends – whether that be marketing or the practice of law!

For a more comprehensive guide to website development, see my four-part series on our blog: Part 1: Website Building Blocks, Part 2: Design & Development, Part 3: Analytics, and Part 4: Search Engine Optimization.

Hope you enjoy the new website! Please let us know if you have any feedback!

 

APPropos – Apps for Your Mobile Practice.

Scannable: Scan paper, business cards, and receipts to Evernote, iCloud, or shared via text or e-mail.

Pulse: LinkedIn’s new personalized news app.

Penultimate: Digital handwriting app that syncs with Evernote.