By Peter Boyd, a Florida attorney who founded PaperStreet. He has helped over 1,500 law firms with their websites, content and marketing.
The way people interact online changes constantly, and a law firm’s website needs to change to stay relevant. From time to time, a firm should plan to start over and create a new online image to upgrade its interface with the public.
The process of designing and building a new site is complex and time-consuming. For your firm to get the most from the process and avoid unnecessary delays or endless revisions, it is important to communicate effectively with your website designer. There are some things your website designer would love for you to understand, but they probably won’t say these things for fear of losing your business. So I’m saying them instead. (You’re welcome!)
1. If everyone has an opinion, nothing will get done.
Look at the workspaces around your office. Everyone has their own style, from color choices to the level of clutter they feel comfortable with. People read different books and watch different videos. You are not going to get a large number of people to agree on key web design questions. If you try to find options that please everyone, you are doomed to failure. Instead, limit the decision-makers on the project so that your site designer can get approvals quickly and move forward.
2. The first version isn’t going to be perfect.
When starting to develop the concept for your site, your designer will usually ask what sites you like. They will try to create something to match your vision. They cannot read your mind, however, so chances are that they’re not going to get it right on the first try.
Designing a site for someone else is a process of trial and error. If the first version you see is not what you’d hoped for, do not panic or get angry. Realize that the site is a work in progress.
3. ‘I don’t like this’ is not constructive feedback.
Your site designer needs to know specifically what you like or dislike about proposed designs. Details matter. Expressing vague like or dislike only tells part of the story. Does it seem too dark? Too crowded? Too fancy? Too modern? The more accurate you can be when expressing an opinion, the easier it will be for your designer to meet your expectations.
4. A ‘kind of red’ is not an actual color.
Website designers work with very specific colors designated by a six-digit number. While they will use more than one color on a site, they generally choose a few thematic colors to use to keep the site looking professional and uniform. When communicating with your website designer, it is important to be specific when referring to color, and realize that once colors are chosen, it can be time-consuming to change them.
5. You can’t take images from Google.
Clients sometimes present their designers with their favorite images and want a site built around the image. The problem is that the image they love is a copyright-protected image they copied from someone else’s site online. Website designers can only use images they have the legal right to use, which usually means they’ve paid for them.
6. Your designer can’t ‘fix’ poor-quality images.
If the only copy of a firm’s logo is a file with very low resolution, that logo will not be usable. A website designer cannot wave a magic wand to improve the quality of bad images. The lead attorney may love a photo someone took at a charity event, but if the image is blurry, it will not be a good addition to the website, and there is nothing a site designer can do to fix that problem. Instead, it is time to hire a photographer or graphic designer to produce new images.
7. You cannot send 100 high-resolution photos via email.
While your site designer welcomes high-quality photos, those files can be enormous. If you try to send a number of large files via email, they are likely to be delayed, tie up a server or disappear into cyberspace. Instead, you need to follow the file transfer procedure set up by your site designer, such as uploading photos to a file-sharing site.
8. Content needs to be a priority.
In addition to images, your website will need written content that conveys the organization’s values, approach and qualifications. Regardless of who is producing the content, it is important to make that content a priority. Try to submit content or review content in accordance with your designer’s deadlines. The site designer can only do so much without knowing what you want to say.
9. The work on a website is never finished.
Websites need constant maintenance and should be updated with fresh content regularly. You will need to establish a procedure for updates and expect to have someone making changes, fixing broken links and updating information on a regular basis.
Your website is your most important marketing tool.
Social media, review sites and other platforms can be great marketing tools. However, they all lead people back to your website. That site should provide a key source of information that is attractive to potential clients and easy to access. All of the effort it takes to work with a site designer is worth it when you realize the importance of your goal.