It took many hours, several cups of coffee, a couple glasses of whiskey, and a bit of cursing. But I finally finished my law firm’s website recently. I did it all using a bit of advice from friends, Thesis, and a lot of trial and error. Some would suggest that you shouldn’t design your own website. Designing the site myself saved the firm a good chunk of money, and allowed me to undertake a nice challenge. But was it worth my time?
Sense of Satisfaction
I’m not much of a handyman. I can’t fix many things or build cool stuff around my house. But I can dabble in HTML. When I finished the firm’s website, I had a nice sense of accomplishment. Sure, it may not be the shiniest car on the block, but it gets the job done. Plus, creating the website let me try something different. Writing code and playing around with website design is completely different from legal writing. The change in pace is liberating.
Deep down, there is also a part of me that didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t do it. I’ve been a tech nerd for as long as I could remember. I love gadgets and try to stay up to date on the latest technologies. As I’ve immersed myself more fully in the law, I’ve lost touch with this part of myself to some extent. But designing a website was an opportunity to rekindle that love of all things nerdy.
The rollercoaster of highs and lows that came with designing the website were also kind of fun. There was a feeling of fear as I edited the functions.php file in Thesis. If I did everything correct, my website would do what I wanted. But if I had one misplaced bracket, the whole thing would break. Yet when I figured out how to fit all the pieces together to overcome various coding issues, it was a huge sense of accomplishment.
Ultimate Control over Content
At the end of the day, my partner and I are the only ones responsible for everything on that website. We are the ones who will get in hot water if the entire site isn’t checked for compliance with the ethics rules. I didn’t want to trust some marketing ‘guru’ or SEO ‘expert’ to write the content for me. After all, my reputation is at stake. Nor did I want to spend hours discussing the content with a designer, only to have the same stuff on my site that the designer used for some attorney in Texas. Some elements of the site may be a little repetitive, but that’s by design and by choice.
As the firm develops, we also need to have full control over our content to change as necessary. For example, after we get a little more experience dealing with small businesses, we plan to advertise those services on the website. Every time we decide to advertise a different part of the practice we don’t want to shell out money to some designer.
It’s Not That Hard
You can get your website up and running in about thirty minutes. It isn’t exactly brain surgery to get a clean and effective website up and running. Most of my struggle for the site involved the slider bar that I used and the page structure. Not to mention writing the actual content. But now that those things are done, it’s extremely easy to make small changes, and it will be easy to add things like a video introduction down the line.
Read the next post in this series: "Advice on Practicing Law."