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Web design questions to ask attorneys

Before you decide to hire a website design or online marketing company to build your next website, it's helpful to know what questions to ask during your initial interview.

But that can be difficult if you're not familiar with the web design industry. That's why we've done the work for you. 

Here's a compilation of great questions to ask your potential web design team...

11 great questions to ask during your interview

1. Will I be able to add, edit and update my website? Will doing so be easy?

Assuming the purpose of your website is to get more clients, chances are that someone will need to make regular updates to your website. Doing so with ease requires that:

  1. Your website be easy to update with minimal technical skills and

  2. Your website be built using a content management system (CMS). This allows for content to be easily added to your website.

2. How often will my website be backed up?

The answer: Your website should be backed up (saved) every night. Here's why:

  • You may accidentally overwrite content and need to restore it.

  • An upgrade to components may create issues or take down your website.

  • Hackers are always trying to attack and take down websites. You never know when you'll need to restore your website due to an attack.

So make sure the web design team is prepared to put a nightly back-up plan in place.

3. Do you save previous versions of my website content?

You or your web specialist should always keep a copy of changes to content in case you're ever accused of an ethics violation. You never know when you'll need to present old content to disprove an accusation.

Tip: Use WayBack Machine to see previous versions of your website and anyone else's.

4. Will search engine optimization (SEO) be considered when building my website?

Not all websites are search-engine friendly. And not all companies consider SEO when building a website. Friendly URLs and clean HTML matter to search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. So be sure to ask your potential web design team how SEO friendly their platform is.

Also ask how much of an impact does content have on SEO? The answer should be: Content is probably the most important aspect of SEO.

5. Who will be responsible for doing what and when?

Make sure you understand who on their team (and yours, for that matter) is responsible for deliverables like content, design concepts, approving work and more. Organization will minimize, even eliminate, chaos and, most importantly, project delays.

6. Do you have a well-defined process for building websites? May I see it?

Just like building a house, there are a lot of moving parts involved in constructing a website. So it's easy for a project to get off track.

A well-defined process will keep your project flowing and eliminate frustration for both you and the website service provider. Ask your website provider if you may view their website design and online marketing process.

7. Who will own the website?

Depending on the company you choose, you may not be able take your website with you. This type of site is provided as software as a service (SaaS). Choosing a SaaS provider means you will lease the software/website on a subscription-based model.

There are pros/cons to a SaaS solution vs owning your website. Just be sure you understand which model you're signing up for and that the choice aligns with your needs.

8. Who will own the domain name?

Imagine you decide to change website providers. Maybe your online marketing needs have outgrown the capabilities of your current website platform and you need to upgrade to a more robust marketing platform. If you can't take your domain with you, you risk losing your ranking on search engines, having to change printed marketing materials and more.

There should be no exceptions: Don't allow someone else to own or control your domain name.

9. Are there any long-term contracts?

Personally, I'm not a fan of long-term contracts. Long-term contracts prevent clients from making changes quickly if a site is not getting the results they desire, if their needs change or if they're interested in exploring other avenues. Why lock yourself into a long-term contract that doesn't provide value?

Ask the website service provider if they have short-term contracts. This will give you some time to determine if the arrangement is mutually beneficial.

10. Exactly what am I paying for?

If you're building a new website, it's pretty easy to grasp what you're paying for. But ongoing search engine optimization is less clear. Ask what task will be performed and when they will be performed? Does the company provide progress reports? And how will success be measured?

11. Are you familiar with the Rules of Professional Conduct?

With over 60% of attorneys reporting other attorneys for ethics violations, make sure your provider has at least a basic understanding of the Rules of Professional Conduct . Such rules regulate content like testimonials, comparisons and monikers ("pit bulls," "heavy hitters").

One more thing. Why do you need a new website? Do you need more clients? Are you trying to grow your practice?

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