Using CMS systems for law firm websites

If you have an extra large marketing budget, I agree that you should have a custom website designed with a special administration module attached that allows your staff to edit the content – otherwise for 97% of the law firms in the world – I strongly suggest using a CMS (Content Management System) platform for your website.

45% of all websites in the world use a CMS platform and 60% of all those CMS created websites use WordPress CMS – so you can rest easy choosing a CMS system, there are others doing it already.

The top contenders in the Content Management Systems are:

  1. WordPress (58%)
  2. Joomla (6%)
  3. Drupal (5%)
  4. Magento (2.9%)
  5. Blogger (2.8%)

The list goes on and on, but the others have 1.5% of the CMS market and less.

The top three in my view are the ones to consider, they have a big enough following and you will be able to get support and developers quite easily.

WordPress

  1. The simplest out of the top three to use.
  2. Has the biggest variety of plug-ins to customize your website.
  3. The largest number of style templates to choose from, some free some not.

Joomla

  1. Not as easy as WordPress, but easier than Drupal.
  2. A good selection of plugins and templates, not as many as WordPress.
  3. More customizable than WordPress, or a better word to describe it, is “flexible”.
  4. It has a more robust core system to handle larger content delivery websites.

Drupal

  1. Most difficult to master, but most often driven by website developers.
  2. Not as many plug-ins and templates, but that is because of the market share.
  3. Best suited to busy complex websites that need a lot of customization.
  4. Works well with database integrated systems.

Although we use Joomla for Tech4Law, mostly because of the number of articles being published, I think that WordPress would be the best choice for most law firms.

The reasons why you should use a CMS system for your law firm website

Cost effective

It is far more cost effective, up front and down the line when you need things changed. Make sure you get your web designer to hand over the editing of the content on the site to one of your staff as part of the project before payment is made.

Thousands of templates

Web developers in the past used to pull their hair out trying to get clients to envisage and communicate what design and style they wanted for the websites – now with templates, you can go through existing templates and choose the one you like most before they start, knowing what the site will look like. Be aware that a lot of the time the template samples look much better than your site will look, but it will give you ideas of what that specific template is capable of handling.

Finding web developers

As there are many, many web developers using these CMS systems to design websites, it will be easy to replace and add to your web design team. 

Hosting your site externally is easy and cheaper

Because they are the standards now, hosting companies support these CMS systems and have all the technology needed to support the sites right from the get go, in fact to setup a site, it is a matter of clicking the install and typing the website name, 10 seconds later you have a website to start customizing.

Search Engine Optimisation

The plug-in on offer that do this for you, or at least guide you, are not better than having dedicated people handing the SEO, but they are better than the average Joe Soap trying to get some traction. Not the best but generally better than most. 

Backup

One click solution, or hand it to the hosting providers – but it is easy and quick.

The bad things about a CMS system

Security

Because they are so popular, they are targeted most by the hackers. Make sure you use a good security plug-in and then on top of that have another level of access.

Bloated

If the site being created is a simple 2-page brochure type site, a non CMS system will be spritelier than a CMS system. But the issue is that most sites are much bigger than two pages.

Updates

CMS systems, because of the size of the following and the hackers, need to update their system often, and you need to ensure each update is done otherwise it leaves your website exposed to being hacked. These days it is a lot easier to perform the updates, but it is still a pain.

Finger Error

Being able to edit your own content is great – however, it creates opportunity for the not-so-clever to make mistakes and cause something not to work properly. A simple way to overcome this is to ensure regular backups, as a quick phone call to the hosting company can get the backup restored in minutes and your site will be back to normal.

There is no question in my mind, WordPress is the right choice for law firms to use as their website system, unless you are planning some really involved website.

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Although we use Joomla for Tech4Law, mostly because of the number of articles being published, I think that WordPress would be the best choice for most law firms.”

    That’s where I lost you. What’s the point of this article? And why the advise is to go for WP?
    Law firms and other business are good in what they do so they should hire a good professional for their website. Let that person decide which cms to use. That would be my advise.

  2. Marc, I see what you are trying to say – “let the lawyer attend to law and let the web developers attend to web design” – which is why I say they should have a web developer handle the initial design and creation of the website, then hand over the content creation to the law firm staff.

    The reason for this is that the staff will handle and manage the content way better than contracting someone from outside the firm. Plus it allows them to quickly and easily add content which is so important to a law firm website.

    The point of the article is to tell law firms to use a CMS system as their backend to their law firms – and the one that makes most sense for most law firms is WordPress, unless as I mentioned that the site needs aspects of the more complicated CMS systems or maybe even bespoke web development from scratch.

    Thanks for the input – it is appreciated.

    PS. Happy to chat further about this is you would like, malcolmATtech4law.co.za.

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