If you are considering a website redesign or are looking into developing an entirely new site, your choice of content management system is a major consideration. Since attorney websites must be frequently updated to remain relevant, it is important that your site be developed on a platform that allows you to easily add and edit new pages and blog posts.
Some law firms consider developing a custom content management system for their websites. This certainly has its coolness factor, and it seems to offer the advantage of providing exactly the functionality your firm wants and needs. However, custom systems have their downfalls, most notably with flexibility and expense. And, if you ever decide to part ways with the company that designed the platform, you may have to start again from scratch.
Open source systems bring with them thousands of eager developers all working to improve the platform and create plugins – at no extra cost to you. For our part, we like WordPress. It is a highly stable, well-supported, versatile content management system that comes with a consistently updated repository of useful plugins.
If you are using WordPress, here are some plugins that can help boost the functionality of your law firm website.
Gravity forms. From our experience, Gravity Forms is simply the best form plugin available. It allows for easy form creation in the admin, simple captcha integration, multi-page forms, storage of form entries (accessible in the admin) and a long list of other features.
Gravity Forms also offers an array of useful add-ons. You can link your forms to an Aweber or MailChimp account to take advantage of email list building and autoresponders. If you are selling any items, like books or ebooks, you can utilize the Authorize.net or PayPal add-ons. The only small catch is that Gravity Forms does require a $39 investment. But the added functionality is worth the price.
S2Member. S2Member is a membership management plugin that ties in with WordPress’s native subscription functionality. S2Member allows you to easily set up and manage custom membership levels. You can set up free memberships for clients and offer special, exclusive password protected content. Clients can then manage their accounts without having to access your website’s administration panel. Having membership perks allows you to give prospects, clients or seminar attendees a special bonus that can help create loyal clients for life.
Google XML Sitemaps and PS Auto Sitemap. Sitemaps are invaluable tools for search engine optimization. For visitors, PS Auto Sitemap generates a sitemap page that displays both pages and posts for easy access. Google XML Sitemaps generates a separate XML sitemap for the benefit of search engines. Having an XML sitemap allows all search engines to crawl your website and index pages more effectively. And lots of indexed pages are generally good for rankings.