Websites - DIY or Paid? The complete guide to the cost of legal marketing
If you thought branding was controversial wait until you read this!
Everyone knows they need a great looking website. Fewer people know why, or how a great site can win them the clients they are making the site for. Even fewer still have any idea of what SEO is, and why it is important to get the simple things right when getting your site done.
Web design is very much a “how long is a piece of string” when it comes to cost. To keep things simple you will need all of the following:
Design and wireframes
SEO research and implementation
Hosting & security
For the DIY crowd it is hard to go past Wordpress or Squarespace. Both give you a variety of different options and if you have enough time are user friendly. Having built sites in both of them if you're a newbie we would recommend squarespace, however you do not get nearly the same flexibility and third party plug-ins so if you are building a complicated site or want to build other functionality into it in the medium term then wordpress is probably the best option. But that is ONLY if it is to use that functionality, because you do trade off with usability. On wordpress you can purchase themes and templates that help you build out your site which you can buy on creative market or themeforest.
On top of the design you will need to do all your own copy, find all your own imagery, and then maintain it. The copy and imagery aspects will take a lot of work. If you have some training in effective sales copy, writing taglines and making sure it all flows then expect to spend at least four to six hours drafting each page of copy. If you have no training and are winging it, you can use references on google and it will probably take you double this time.
If you go with Wordpress you will also need to make sure it is backed up using a service like WP Engine, and that your hosting and security is taken care of.
Generally speaking Squarespace looks after this for you, where Wordpress requires you to have a variety of different providers. With Wordpress you need to keep up with your plug-in and security updates as well on a regular basis or you might find your site crashes when a plugin stops working.
Short of a spare huge chunk of time where you can up-skill and do all of these pieces well yourself we couldn't recommend the DIY path to any busy professional. We’ve done it ourselves, lots of times, and it’s a hard slog.
With your site you need to consider design, copy, SEO (research and onsite structuring) and ongoing maintenance when getting a quote and consider the need for flexibility with making changes as you grow.
This is where things get complicated. Yes, you can buy a template website that someone does up for you for $3-4K. They will use the same template for you as they do other clients, and do a very basic job of putting in your details. This will not be copy heavy (it likely won't include the copy at all) but if push comes to shove it is achievable at the lower end. It also could well be developed by someone without the requisite SEO skills to make sure it performs. We see a lot of people get cheap builds and the development of the site is so bad that it creates significant negative affects to their SEO performance.
Outside the very cheap cookie cutter options, a website worthy of your brand that is SEO optimised will generally cost you $7,000 - $30,000 to design and create including copy. The range is simply because some sites are larger, more complex or have different development requirements.
Most agencies quote for the branding, the design and the copy separately.
We’ve been quoted $15,000 simply for website design and dev by other agencies and over $5000 for a 7 page site’s copy.
With your copy expect to pay between $600 and $1500 a page depending on the copywriter. With most sites at 8-10 pages you can see how this ads up. Copy is absolutely crucial though and one area a lot of lawyers think they can do. There is a huge difference between great web copy and other written copy, so it is well worth investing in someone who has experience. Ultimately, you will make the money back and you will feel much better if you are confident in the copy.
In the same respect as your branding, a web dev worth anything will invest time in understanding your business, what you want out of your site, the type of audience your site is being made for, and what you want to achieve. There is a significant strategic element in website development even at the more basic end, so it is important that you get it right. Your dev should be able to SEO optimise the build of your site as well as the copy. Think long and hard about what you want from the site. Leads right away? Brand recognition? Authority? To grow an email list and develop referrals over time? There are many strategies that can work for your site and it is important in the design phase to get clarity so that the developer can deliver
We have recently partnered with Web3, a leading website development and SEO company. We work together with them on our clients projects and are able to secure significant discounts because of our relationship.
Hot tip - Is your website lead generating or more about your overall brand? The goals of your site are really important to establish at the outset before you decide on where to spend your money and how. Do you want to sell legal documents or solutions from it? Do you want to have the flexibility to update it yourself? These are just some of the questions to be clear on before committing to a build.
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