Running a law firm takes time. Website building for your firm will also take an extensive amount of your time if you go it alone. Hiring freelancers might not be the best option, either. They often overpromise and underdeliver. Further, their work may come in far below industry standards. Website development is an intensely individualized process, from individualized search engine optimization (SEO) down to the user experience it offers. It can also be time-consuming when you want to focus on your practice rather than creating web pages.
Knowing how long it will take to build a quality website will be important for your firm’s success. Here at Array Digital, our web developers are transparent and will communicate with you throughout the process so you are not left in the dark.
Does the type of website influence the building time?
Yes, the type of website you want for your firm will influence the amount of time required to build it. A small WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace website for a law firm with a specific practice area is quite different from a site for a large, complex corporation that offers a wide range of goods and services.
Proper web design must be personalized to your firm’s specific needs, and adopting a one-size-fits-all approach using template platforms rarely accomplishes what you need. If a platform offers to whip up an instant yet comprehensive website for you in hours or a few days, that is a red flag.
Especially beware of anyone who charges you to create a simple website using Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, or similar website builder platforms in just a few days. Building a website can take weeks to accomplish. There is nothing wrong with those services for web hosting unto themselves; it just can be a red flag if a freelancer offers them as a magic solution to your needs for a quick online presence.
Creating a business website
The average time for a new website depends upon the type and size of the business. A small firm needs its basic website to accomplish fewer things than complex corporations. The focus of your law firm’s website will primarily be marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and useful user content, but it may require more involved structural elements for your specific purposes.
Array Digital focuses on law firm websites, and our web developers will look at several factors to determine the scope of the site. These include the functionality or features needed on the site, the data requirements, usability features, and content.
So, how long will it take to build your website?
Ultimately, we estimate website development to take approximately two or four months depending on your needs. However, there is no exact date upfront regarding how long the design process will take for your custom website. The development process depends on the size, complexity, and scope of the site, as well as your goals as a client. Certainly, a one-page website will take less time than a multi-page, complex setup full of apps and social media plugins.
The major phases of developing a website include:
- Content creation
- Functionality and development
- Reviewing and launching
During the development phase, discovery and planning alone for your website can take over 80 hours to complete, and that is before the active design phase of the site even starts. Content creation after discovery can take another 80 hours or more, while the user interface and design can take several weeks.
Website development and coding takes 16 hours or more, and this is followed by beta testing and any revisions, corrections, and re-coding that is needed. The final launch then takes place over the course of a day or two.
On average, creating a layout for landing pages can take 35 hours or more in total, a full law firm website with multiple pages to promote your firm’s services and increase client engagement can take 165 hours or more, and a highly complex website with a detailed technology stack on the backend can run 350 hours or longer.
These basic time frames are for an average website. Exceptionally large or complex sites can take even longer. We can provide you a more precise timeline once we speak with you about your specific needs and plans.
What does it mean when we say discovery?
Discovery is a crucial phase for any website developer. This initial phase of the building process involves research, data analysis, and exploration to allow the development team to answer the questions they might have about setting up the website to match the needs of both your firm and your clients.
Next is content creation
There is a common saying in web design these days: content is king. This means that your text, apps, animations, video, and all other actual content you deliver matter. If you have high-quality content, it can save a lot of time during the building process. If the website developer must add content, this can add weeks to the development process. This is especially true for law firms, who are held to a YMYL, or “your money your life” standard by Google. This means that your law firm’s site is held to a more rigorous standard of quality and accuracy than sites that do not have an impact on users’ financial and personal wellbeing. Additionally, law firm content must abide by ABA ethical standards or face penalties.
Content can be much more than just blogs. As mentioned above, it involves the entire user experience and can include podcasts, audio clips, and videos, and it certainly involves all the landing pages for your website. Before major design can begin, it is a good idea to have a preliminary sitemap in place. The more complex the sitemap, the longer the design will take, but by the same token, one should not limit their pages just to save time on the design. This is why it is so important for your firm to work closely with the website developer.
A major part of many websites is the content management system employed. Before we can determine the best way to manage and deliver content to your site visitors, website developers must have a good idea of what that content will be.
Creating solid content is an essential part of SEO for your site. If you are also looking to market your services, Array Digital provides SEO services to help you optimize your copy for this purpose.
Functionality and development
The active functionality and development phase involves the creation of the user interface (UI) and user experience (UE) as well as the testing of the functionality of both. The website developer will also examine and optimize website speed, which is a vital factor in your website accomplishing the goal of attracting and keeping clients.
The first step in functionality and development is creating mockups. This allows us to examine and tweak the site’s final form upon launch. Mockups help us determine whether the concept is realistic and will work. This can save on website costs if the initial design scheme simply isn’t tenable. It can also help us select the right visual design, such as colors, fonts, and themes. Finally, mockups let us see how the website will look on different devices, making it an essential part of smart web design. If you are an SEO client or want to include an SEO package in the future, having a mobile-friendly website is a key ranking factor.
In addition, your development team from Array Digital will conduct a thorough round of technical SEO review for your website to ensure that every landing page is healthy and fully functional.
Reviewing and launching the website
Reviewing and launching the website is the final step in the process. Our professional website builder team will review the UI/UE and ensure that all web pages are built correctly. During the process of review before the final launch, we collaborate heavily with the client to pinpoint and fix any potential errors. During this process, we will again evaluate the site speed to ensure that your site loads on average in one second or less.
We ensure that all menus and navigation tools work properly and that any AI features, like chatbots, work as they should. We also check to make sure that all plugins function properly without compatibility issues. Finally, we proofread content we have created for the website. Users who are evaluating a law firm can interpret spelling and grammar errors on a firm’s website as indicators of a lack of quality control and attention to detail. Businesses with website typos can lose twice as many customers as those that have well-written and thoroughly proofed content.
What other factors might go into website building?
One of the most common misconceptions about website building is that the actual coding and page construction takes the longest. In truth, understanding the goal and needs of the client, getting clear directives in place, and forming a strong plan of action is often the most difficult part. Once we undersand your goals, a few other factors might go into creating your site. These include:
- Services involved in the project
- The complexity of pages
- Plugins and other user features
The pros and cons of DIY website development
While these may give you a basic online presence with easy functionality, a working homepage, and landing pages, your new site will miss the important backend features of a professional website that will make it a valuable tool to grow your firm’s business. They might take less time but are not a substitute for professional web design services.
If you want your website to show up on Google, Bing, or other search engines, creating it yourself with these easy instant services can often end up costing you money and slowing your firm’s growth in the long run. This is because a knowledgeable and experienced web builder knows how to make your site individualized enough to catch the attention of not only online readers but also search engine algorithms. In short, while these web builders can give you a quick online presence, but they often fall short when you need to implement digital marketing tactics.
What are some common website builders?
As mentioned, some of the more common website builder platforms include GoDaddy, Wix, and WordPress. The real problem with these builders is that they limit your ability to optimize your site, easily leading to technical SEO errors. These sites use a type of interface commonly called WYSIWYG, or “what you see is what you get.” They work like a word processor. If you want a header, you click “Heading 1,” and it appears, supposedly, just how it will look on the screen.
It seems easy, but this ease of use comes at a cost. The backend code on WYSIWYG generators is often a mess, takes forever to load, functions correctly only on certain browsers, or conflicts with plugins. Even worse, no matter how much customizability they seem to offer, these sites tend to look like cookie-cutter copies. If they don’t look that way to the naked eye, they certainly do to web crawlers.
They might, for example, miss important on-page SEO elements such as optimizing title tags, headings, image alt-text, and meta descriptions, which are important to spiders.
Technical SEO involves updates and coding that have a direct impact on indexing, crawlability, and search engine rankings. It gets more complex with things like structured data, XML sitemaps, functional links, robots tags and files, and various other factors.
GoDaddy is a basic web hosting service that is known for its templates. It is built for one thing above all else: simplicity. It uses features like drag-and-drop to build websites that look strong but have very little true customizability. In addition, GoDaddy sites have been known to load slower, which can, as we have said, be costly. Finally, GoDaddy limits your storage and the number of sites you can have significantly.
Wix is a template-based web platform that offers fair speed and security with an intuitive interface. However, it is ad-driven, has limits on bandwidth and storage, and again, much like GoDaddy, offers very little true customizability to your site.
Think of WordPress as having two versions: the basic and advanced. The basic version is designed to use pre-generated templates to create content. It is fair if all you want to do is create content-driven pages, but again, it does not offer the level of features you want for a law firm website. Advanced WordPress sites can be fully customized, with many technical features. WordPress is the most commonly used web builder platform.
Do you really want to spend your free time building a website for work?
Trying to save money on a website by doing it yourself rarely works out. It will cost you more in the long run in terms of lost hours, lost time, and lost clients. Hiring an agency will save you time, and you will get a website that matches all your needs the first time.
Building a website might seem like it takes too much time, but all of that time is well-spent, and when Array Digital is involved, you can focus on running your business while we take care of the technology.
At Array Digital, we give every client an easy point of contact to request all necessary revisions to your site and meetings to discuss development. We provide clients with weekly development updates and are always able to speak on the phone. We also provide ongoing monthly and quarterly updates for established customers. In the end, you will always know the status of your website.