So, you have decided to launch a website for your law firm because you want to let the world know about the services you have to offer and the different ways that you can help people. The first step is to hire a company to take care of your law firm’s web design since it’s pretty unlikely that you will design and build the website yourself. Your main concern is likely to be the cost of your website’s development, and the timeline to its completion.
The cost and the timeline will vary based on the complexity of the website, but no matter how simple or elaborate your law firm’s website is, it still has to go through the same set of steps. Learning what those steps are should give you a good idea of what to expect during the programming of your law firm website. On The Map Marketing will oversee every stage of the design and programming of your website, and we are certain that you will be as happy with the results, as all of our clients have been over the years.
Target Goals and Research
This is arguably the most important step because it determines how the ensuing steps will progress. Even before a line of code is written, it is important that you and the company you hired know a few things: your mission statement, the scope of your vision, your target audience, and more relevant information regarding your law firm’s goals.
Once you have imparted this information to the company, they will create a plan that best suits the theme and message you envision for your website. A detailed account of what you want for your law firm website will set the roadmap for its development and help to ensure that the development and programming goes smoothly.
Next up is the creation of a sitemap. This is a visual representation—much like a blueprint—of how the website will flow and how the different pages interrelate with each other. A sitemap is a simple flowchart showing which pages lead to which, so the designers can make sure that the user experience is as smooth as possible.
The sitemap is then used to create a wireframe or mockup of what the finished homepage will look like. A wireframe is a barebones representation of a webpage’s design that does not have any colors, pictures, or graphics. A mockup is a non-interactive version of the webpage, complete with the missing elements from the wireframe, that is sent to you for your approval. That way, if you have any changes to make, they can be implemented early on before development begins in earnest.
Graphics, fonts, logos, photos, videos, and other visual elements are created here, all based on your feedback during the previous phases. These elements form the visual language and theme of your site, so this is a very important step. This is another part of the planning phase, during which, the general layout and structure of the website is created and finalized.
This involves sending examples to you so that you can suggest any changes you see fit. You should not be hesitant to express your opinion here since the website is essentially the face of your business. And you always want to make sure that it is a face that people will want to see.
If the visual elements are the style of your site, then the content is its substance. The content is the text describing your services, your mission statement, blog posts, calls to action, and more. The visual design of your site will get the attention of visitors but good content will keep it. As with the other aspects of your website, the content created for your site is first sent to you for approval before it is added to your webpages.
SEO (search engine optimization) strategies are also enacted during this stage. SEO is all about getting your website to rank highly on Google’s SERP (search engine results page) using various stratagems. These include researching keywords relevant to your practice area and location and placing them throughout the content of your website.
Coding and Development
This is where the majority of the programming begins. Using the sitemap and client feedback as a guide, the developers begin creating each page of your website. More elaborate websites take a little longer because complex elements like videos and animations take longer to implement. More simple websites, such as those based on a pre-existing template, tend to go a little faster.
Regardless of how elaborate or simple the design of the website is, the design team should make sure that it is mobile responsive. This means that the website reads well and loads quickly, on mobile devices like smartphones. Various security protocols, like SSL certification are also applied here to make sure that your site is as safe as it can be from hacking attempts, viruses, malware, and other online threats.
Testing and Publishing
This stage is generally self-explanatory. The links on the website are tested to make sure that they work and that they lead to where they are supposed to go. Content is reviewed to take care of any spelling or grammatical errors, and the site is checked to make sure that it runs well on mobile without any hitches. Once the website has been thoroughly combed over, it is uploaded to a server using FTP (file transfer protocol) software. After the completed website has been uploaded, it should be checked again to make sure that it was uploaded correctly.
Support and Maintenance
Once your site has been launched, the job isn’t over just yet. Software updates, content updates, bug fixes, and more, are all a part of the ongoing support process of a website. This is because a website is a service, not a product; and it has to be constantly monitored and updated to make sure that it fits the constantly changing requirements of the search engines and their users.
The website should have some sort of feedback system that allows the developers to quickly identify, and fix, problems as they occur. This is vital to making sure that your law firm website is a top destination that people will want to visit and use.
Website design is a collaborative process that involves a lot of talented individuals with different skill sets combining their abilities to deliver a service that people will want to use. On The Map Marketing has team members with the talent and the drive to provide people from the legal profession—as well as many other professions—with the website they need to stand out from the crowd. When you are ready to get the name of your law firm out there, contact us so that we can start working with you.