Should solicitors use WordPress for their websites, and if yes, how should they do it? This article aims to explain what WordPress is, how it works and how you can make really good use of it as the conent management system for your law firm website.
What Is WordPress
WordPress is a free website design platform that started off mainly as a blogging platform. However, it has developed over the years into a full content managed website platform which you can expand to make it into a fully fledged law firm website easily using plugins (think App for your mobile telephone and you are there).
Should Solicitors Have A Free Website?
In my opinion what is important for solicitors is that they do not have a website which has plastered all over it “Free Website From XXX”. This completely gives the wrong message to your audience, for example:
“Well, I am not going to use this law firm. They won’t even pay for their own website. What does that say about them?”
However, WordPress is completely customisable and does not have to have anywhere displayed on it that you are using a free platform, as long as you have professional hosting on your own website domain such as www.lawfirmwebsite.co.uk as opposed to the other option which would be www.lawfirmwebsite.wordpress.org which wouldn’t be suitable.
There are so many benefits of WordPress as a website design platform for solicitors that it is worth looking at each one in turn.
Content management is what first led me to looking at WordPress for solicitors. I had been using Joomla and Drupal for content management when building websites many years ago, but I just found them dreadful to use. I did not find them in any way intuitive, but they did fulfil my one criteria of being open sourced software, so there were lots of developers out there who could work with these platforms and could help my solicitor clients if they ever chose to stop working with me.
I settled on these criteria because I had far too many solicitors come to me when they already had a website which wasn’t performing (delivering clients to them) and they wanted to change it. Often these law firms were tied to a bespoke content management platform provided by their former website designer. Guess what this meant; they were tied to that website designer and if they wanted to leave they had to start the entire website design process from scratch. This was a timely and costly process.
I decided that this wasn’t what I should be advising law firm owners to do because it was not in the best interests of their business. I wanted them to find a content management platform that gave them the ability to make changes to their website but which also allowed them to freely change website design or hosting companies should they ever decide to do so.
Joomla and Drupal fulfilled these criteria but with the restrictions of usability that I mention above.
I found WordPress and everything clicked. It has an incredibly user interface (one that I train solicitors how to interact with using video training and how to guides) and can be customised to do anything that you want or need it to do.
More importantly, there are hundreds of thousands of WordPress developers worldwide, so if a solicitor decides to stop working with me for any reason, I know that they can pick their website up and find someone else to help them in an instant. This is exactly as it should be.
I only want clients to work with me when they choose to do so. I have no interest in forcing clients to stay with me as many website design companies do. My enjoyment in my business comes from working with solicitors that I can add great value to and that really enjoy and benefit from working with me.
The Security Of WordPress For Law Firm Website Design
You will find as with Drupal and Joomla above that some people claim because WordPress is open source software (meaning that anyone can adapt it freely) it makes it vulnerable to security issues.
If you have the wrong hosting platform; for example, a bog standard hosting platform not designed for WordPress, you may be susceptible to hacking attempts.
However, there are now many WordPress specific hosting platforms which provide very secure hosting. I use one of these for all of my solicitor client websites and since moving to this platform have not had any issues: – not even minor ones.
If you have the correct hosting WordPress is as secure as any platform. In fact, before my own website, www.samsonconsulting.co.uk was on WordPress, it was just a custom coded html website and it had regular hosting downtime issues – meaning that it disappeared for minutes or even hours at a time. That has not been the case since I moved to secure WordPress hosting. The other advantage of my WordPress hosting is automated, daily back ups, which I will now come on to.
Backing Up WordPress For Solicitors
The only way that I could back up my old html website was to use a piece of software called Dreamweaver and manually download the entire website. With hundreds of pages, this often took several attempts and several hours.
With the right hosting platform, your WordPress website will be backed up every day, meaning that should you accidentally break it, you can easily roll it back to how it was the day before.
This gives you incredible peace of mind.
I mentioned Plugins above. WordPress is a very basic system, but because it is open sourced software other people started customising it using Plugins. These are essentially Apps that you add inside the WordPress platform that allow you to do all manner of things, such as:
- Add contact forms;
- Make your website search engine friendly (to get more visitors to it);
- Add a cookie consent pop up;
- Anything else you can think of or need your website to do.
Most plugins are free of charge (some ask for voluntary donations) and they make your WordPress law firm website much more flexible.
Plugins are updated from time to time (much like mobile phone apps are) so there is some manual labour involved to update them, but if you have hosting this should be done for you from time to time.
When it comes to how your website looks, there are two ways to change your website design:
- The Custom way; or
- WordPress Themes
The custom way means that a website designer codes the website to look and behave in a certain way. As it is completely bespoke, it is the expensive and time consuming option.
However, WordPress Themes are ‘ready-made’ design layouts. You upload a theme, plus usually a child theme which allows you to make further edits, then you customise it by changing colours and layouts to match your needs. Obviously because most of the design has already been carried out this option is usually much faster and more cost effective.
The other advantage of using Themes for your law firm website is that most of the time they will already be Mobile Responsive, which, as the volume of visitors to law firm websites using mobile telephones is growing exponentially at the moment is a very important point.
In addition to WordPress Plugins being updated, the WordPress software is also updated from time to time. With a good hosting package this should be done for you automatically.
WordPress as a website design platform for solicitors, in my opinion, is the best software available to use at the present time. The key issue, as I have mentioned above, is that because more than half of the world’s websites are now hosted on WordPress, there are millions of website designers who can help you if you want to move from your current website designer.
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