Some people don't care what kind of car they drive. That's why you see a lot of Fiat 500Ls, Chrysler 200s and Dodge Journeys on the road, even though Consumer Reports says they are the worst cars on the road today.
Granted, they will get you from the trailer park to Walmart, but nobody is going to be impressed. Just because something is cheap and plentiful doesn't make it a good choice. You might as well drive a Canyonero, as featured in The Simpsons: "Twelve yards long, two lanes wide, 65 tons of American pride, Canyonero, Canyonero, Top of the line in utility sports, unexplained fires are a matter for the courts. Canyonero, Canyonero."
Websites Are No Different
The same principles apply to choosing a website platform. Wordpress is the biggest, cheapest, most-used web platform today. Roughly 4,652,825 online sites use Wordpress, making it the lowest common denominator.
Law firms like to use it because it is free. GoDaddy, Wix and Weebly are free, too (or almost free) and you get what you pay for. It's hard to beat free, unless you want to attract clients and get referrals from lawyers. Clients go online when they look for a lawyer, and if you are showing consumers a run-of-the-mill website, you will get predictably bad results.
I have edited several websites in Wordpress, and it is the 1985 Yugo of web platforms. Plain Wordpress is as mediocre an experience as you can expect. Updates must be manually downloaded, and they could scramble your website unless you're careful. Wordpress is so bereft of features a lawyer needs to add more than a dozen plugins to make it worthwhile.
The admin pages are equivalent to Microsoft Notepad. And, Wordpress sites look like … Wordpress. On the Internet, style counts. If your site looks good, clients will believe that you are good at what you do. Wordpress is commonly re-sold by cheapo web developers to lawyers. The developers get the platform for free and mark the price up for their customers.
Ask These Questions
The question presented to lawyers is: Why settle for a do-it-yourself website creation tool instead of purchasing a web platform that is designed for lawyers? When you are ready for something better than a generic option and are looking to change your website platform, ask these questions:
- Did any attorneys who actually practiced law help design your platform? (This is important because IT people have not been trained to think like lawyers.)
- Are your customer support personnel located in the USA? (Avoid overseas or non-English speaking customer support.)
- Will I be able to record leads and track them all the way to becoming clients?
- Does your preferred web development company sell pay-per-click advertising (PPC)? (RED FLAG: a conflict of interest).
- Do you sell search engine optimization (SEO)? (RED FLAG: this is snake oil because Google is now operated by artificial intelligence that cannot be gamed).
- Does your preferred web development company also offer a directory? (RED FLAG: a conflict of interest because your competition can outspend you).
- Are you a Google Gold Certified Partner? (RED FLAG: this can be purchased with advertising from Google).
- Do you sell legal services or legal forms? (RED FLAG: they are competing with you).
Remember my automobile analogy. When you're on the road, you want to drive one of Consumer Reports' best cars. Think of an Acura ILX, an Audi A3 or a Mercedes-Benz CLA. Don't be caught in a Canyonero as you travel the digital highway.
Larry Bodine, a member of this newsletter's Board of Editors, and is Editor of The National Trial Lawyers and Mass Tort Nexus.