If either of the following are true, you might be okay designing your own website:

  1. You have a background in art or design.
  2. People regularly (and without prompting) compliment you on your fashion sense, decorating skills, or artistic taste.

Otherwise, please don’t.

While lawyers with some design skill should definitely consider designing their own websites, just because you can figure out how to publish a web page doesn’t mean you are going to be any good at it. Many lawyers have gone before you, leaving a trail of awful websites in their wake. Don’t add to it.

Your website is the first impression you make on nearly every potential client, networking contact, opposing counsel, judge, and anyone else who looks for you online (which is, probably, 90% of people who look for you at all). Despite the fact that it is quite easy to put up a website on your own, that doesn’t mean you will make the first impression you hope to make. Instead, if you don’t meet either of the above criteria, your website probably shows visitors that you are some combination of the following: cheap, sloppy, incompetent, out of touch, clueless … you get the idea.

If you don’t meet the above criteria and don’t want to spend money on a professional website, just use your LinkedIn profile or Facebook page until you get your priorities straight (and your bank account in line). A bad website is worse than no website at all.

Of course, I know this will fall on some deaf ears, and lawyers who have no business doing so will go ahead and put up their own website. That’s good news for the rest of us, because first impressions matter.

(Now that I think about it, the above advice goes for office design, as well. Shabby offices are a plague among lawyers.)

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/anatomist/247782663/)