If your firm has decided to undertake a website project, you want the process from contract to launch to go as smoothly as possible. And you want a website that fits your firm's needs and generates leads. Generally, this is how web projects progress.
But sometimes, the process breaks down. Attorneys may get frustrated with their web design and development teams. They think they are being ripped off (sometimes they are) or talked down to (they may be) or just simply ignored. Firms are right to expect responsiveness and understanding from their web team. You are investing time and money into your project and deserve to get results.
At times, when confronted with less than happy clients, developers fight back. They close themselves off and stop communicating with the firm. They assume all of the attorneys’ demands are unreasonable. They stop looking for solutions. The process breaks down further.
It is possible to have harmony during the design, development and marketing of a law firm website. Everyone can just get along. They key, as with most relationships, is communication.
This is simple to say but sometimes difficult to put into practice. Attorneys, designers and programmers are busy. People make assumptions about what the others know. It is easy to get stuck in a bubble and forget not everyone knows things you may consider obvious because they are a part of your every day work.
Having the development process run smoothly is beneficial for everyone. Firms are more likely to build an online presence that works for them and marketing teams are more likely to get word of mouth referrals (the best kind). There are many facets of the attorney/marketing dynamic, which will be addressed by future posts. Here are some tips – that apply to all parties involved – for getting the process off to the right start.
Do not make assumptions. We all view the world through individual lenses, and it is sometimes difficult to look at projects from the standpoint of an outside observer. But try. Think: If I had never programmed a website before, how would my assumptions be different? Or, if I were not part of a busy law office, what are some important aspects of my practice I may be unaware of? Assuming others know what you know or what you want is a reliable way to cause future frustration.
Share information about third parties you work with. Knowing what needs to be incorporated into a website from the beginning will help avoid costly delays. If, for example, your firm uses a lead management system like Salesforce, that will need to be integrated into your website’s forms. Let your team know up front. Writing the code once is always faster than going back and recoding to incorporate unexpected third party applications.
Ask questions. This is the sister tip to not making assumptions. Take the statement, “I want video.” This should touch off a slew of questions. Is there a production company involved? How many videos? Will the videos be hosted or embedded from a service like YouTube? Is there a need to develop a playlist function? Should the marketing company be involved in the production? Does anyone have advice to offer on creating the most effective videos? No question is too trivial.
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