A cynic is someone who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
With any web development project, there are custom features that can add time and expense, but if you’re in the market for a new website for your law firm, there is a ballpark range you’ll likely be able to stay in. For larger, Am Law style firms, the numbers will increase considerably, but for a more boutique operation of between 1 – 15 lawyers seeking a standard, but well designed WordPress site, of about 40-50 pages, the range should usually be between $3,000 – $6,000.
What work is involved?
There is a lot of work that goes into designing and coding a website from scratch. Below are the basic steps involved in creating a law firm website.
- Logo design – the logos’s look, feel, and color scheme sets the tone for the rest of the site
- Plan site layout – otherwise known as a sitemap, this is the process of planning where to put content so it’s organized in an efficient manner
- Create “gaps” in content – if the sitemap calls for pages that don’t exist, but should, we do the research and create the content, whether it be text or visual
- Create design files – build design mock ups in Photoshop and circulate for comment
- Code the site on a development server, and run tests. This is the step where we would populate the new site with content from the old according to the sitemap
- Push the site live – handle technical issues such as redirects or server changes
What features will impact price most?
Unique page templates
To start, one of the big factors that will impact price is the number of custom page templates a designer has to create. Although most every page on a site will have unique content, part of the design process is to identify sections of the website that will share design traits. For example, attorney profile pages could be a custom template, or they could borrow from the template for practice area pages. The same is true for office location pages. The page with the most custom features will usually be the homepage, then each additional type of page you’d like to have it’s own unique design will increase price.
Transferring content and labor
This is a big one. Let’s say you have a site through Justia, that has over a hundred pages. You hire us to transition the entire thing to WordPress. If the content you have is any good, we’ll want to move it over to the new WordPress install. Unfortunately, in many cases, the only way to do this is manually, so there is labor cost associated with transitioning, and optimizing, all those pages on the new site.
Adding custom features to a site, such as PayPal integration, or developing a QA feature, can add to the cost of development. However, in today’s marketplace, ensuring your site functions properly on mobile devices, and tablets, should come standard at no additional cost as there are numerous WordPress themes that have out of the box responsive ability.
Another word on custom web development. Aside from adding features to a WordPress site, it’s almost never a good idea. In most cases, law firms aren’t equipped to effectively monitor a complex development project, nor do they need to be. Paying for a nice, front end design is one thing, but trying to build something complex on the backend is usually a bad idea as there are well funded companies already in that business who do it better. We had a client come to us after spending $100,000 trying to develop a custom CRM they could have gotten for a couple hundred dollars a month from an existing provider.
A note on WordPress and branding
First, your law firm website should be built on WordPress, period. Not Drupal, not Squarespace, and for heaven’s sake, don’t use Findlaw. You can do WordPress yourself by taking a WordPress theme, installing it at the hosting provider of your choice, and adding some content. However, be warned, it won’t look like the portfolio of themes advertised on the site you bought it from. In fact, it will look unprofessional. It will look like you put it together yourself.
WordPress is special as a back end content management system, not because of any given design. You can add whatever design you’d like to the front end of WordPress, so don’t be wooed by theme providers who show you a portfolio of amazing looking themes. Getting the theme to look like you’ll want it to will require some front end coding ability, which is a worthwhile investment to preserve a professional appearance for clients and colleagues who visit your website. Branding matters, even for law firms.
Law firm websites usually do not have to break the bank, but spending some money on a polished look is also advisable. Bottom line is this: you want a WordPress site, built on a mobile theme, with a custom design.