Maintaining a website is an essential part of any law firm’s digital presence. Website maintenance includes a variety of activities, from managing content to performing technical upkeep and monitoring security. The cost of website maintenance can vary dramatically depending on many factors.
Why Does My Website Need Maintenance?
Many people think that building a website is a limited-scope project with a beginning and an end. A designer designs it, a developer codes it, and that’s the end of the story until you want a new website. Right?
Technically yes, it can be the end of the story. However, if you want your law firm’s website to continue to work and bring in clients, then it should not be. Like most complex systems, a website needs ongoing maintenance and care to ensure that it is secure, fast-loading, up-to-date, and all parts are working as they should.
Law firm website maintenance includes activities such as:
Running security scans on your website regularly to detect and fix any potential vulnerabilities.
All websites are built upon some type of software framework. At Thunderhead Marketing, all of our attorney website designs are developed using the WordPress framework. Joomla and Drupal are other popular frameworks.
No matter what framework your website is built on, it will be in a continual state of evolution. That means that your website code needs to be regularly updated to stay current with security patches, bug fixes, and new features.
Plugins are add-ons to the framework that help give your website additional functionality. These need to be updated regularly as well to continue working properly.
It’s important to make sure that all links, images, and navigation are working properly for an optimal user experience. Your law firm website content needs to be regularly updated with new information about your firm, including new blog posts as well as changes in services, laws and personnel.
Not keeping up with website maintenance can be a costly mistake. Not only can it lead to a decline in website performance, but it can also make your site more vulnerable to hacks and malicious code injection, both of which could take significant time and cost to repair, as well as damage your reputation and cost you clients.
How Much Does Website Maintenance Cost?
Website maintenance is not just one activity. There are many moving parts to maintaining a website, some are absolutely necessary and others are simply good practice. There are also many factors that will affect the cost of website maintenance for a law firm. Let’s break some of this down.
Necessary Website Maintenance Fees
To have a law firm website, there are a few recurring expenses that cannot be avoided.
Domain Name & Registration
A domain is the website address that users type into a browser window to find your website. For example, our domain is thunderheadmarketing.com. The mailman couldn’t find your house without an address, and a potential client would have no way to find your website if it didn’t have an address.
Buying a domain is not a one-time cost. It is something you must pay for every year to continue using it. The exact cost of a domain varies depending on the extension (.com, .org, etc), but it is generally a small fee of $10-$20 a year.
If your website was a house and the domain its address, the hosting service is the land that the house is built on — or rather, the place where the files that make up your website live.
A website needs to be hosted on servers in order to be viewed by the public. Hosting is also a recurring cost and varies widely depending on the type of hosting and the needs of your website.
- Shared hosting: This is the least expensive option, and it’s great for very small websites that don’t have a lot of traffic. Costs can range from around $5 to $20/month.
- Virtual private server: This is more expensive than shared hosting but offers greater flexibility. A virtual private server is a server that’s divided among a few other websites. While it is still a shared server, it is partitioned into its own space for each website. Prices range from around $20-$100/month.
- Dedicated server: This is the most expensive option and it should be used if your website has a large amount of traffic. These servers can cost hundreds of dollars each month.
An SSL certificate establishes a secure connection between your website and the visitor’s web browser so that any transmitted data is encrypted. An SSL certificate typically costs around $60 a year, although that cost can vary widely.
Other Factors That Influence Website Maintenance Cost
As previously mentioned, there are many components to website maintenance, including keeping up with software updates, checking for site security issues, and making sure the content is fresh. Some of the tasks involved in website maintenance should be done weekly, others monthly. Website maintenance services for law firms can vary widely in cost based on several factors.
Size and Complexity
A larger, more complex website often needs more frequent updates and more technical upkeep. If the site has a large number of pages, that is more content that must be regularly reviewed and kept up to date.
Frequency of Law Firm Updates
Another key part of website maintenance is communicating with the law firm and making changes that are needed each month. Staff changes, law firm news updates, updating attorney images, changes in laws, etc. are all regular parts of keeping your website fresh.
Website Performance & Conversion Optimization
The purpose of having a website is for clients to find it and contact your law firm. If your website is slow, if the calls to action aren’t clearly visible, if the wording is unappealing to potential clients, then you aren’t going to be getting the leads you want. What clients find appealing also evolves over time, so messaging that worked 5 years ago may no longer be effective.
Regularly assessing your website’s performance and making adjustments when something isn’t working is an important part of having a website that helps you grow your practice.
Can I Do My Own Website Maintenance?
While it is possible to do your own website maintenance, it can be time-consuming and requires a good understanding of the technology involved. It is also important that you stay up to date with security measures, software updates, and other best practices for managing a website and optimizing its performance.
For most attorneys, practicing law is a much better use of their time than trying to maintain a website. Investing in professional website maintenance services is the best option for keeping your site up-to-date and running smoothly. Such services can range from $500-$10,00 a month depending on the needs of the site, size of the firm and website, and the desired maintenance tasks.
Need Help Maintaining Your Law Firm’s Website?
At Thunderhead Marketing, we have helped attorneys across the United States