Why Lawyers May NOT Want to Spend Top Dollar on A Website: Moore’s Law


As readers may notice, My Shingle has gotten a bit of a facelift — as it has over time – morphing from how we looked ten years ago to two weeks ago to the present. Ultimately, technology rather than design sensibility forced my hand: when Google announced last spring that it would take account of a site’s mobile-friendliness as part of ranking, I knew that I had to get with the program. Same is true for my home site  which I finally updated earlier this week – though it’s still a work in progress. And while both sites look fine – if a bit bland – on the big screen, like big fish in a small pond, they rule on an iPhone screen or mobile device.

So why rely on a quick fixes to update my sites instead of forking up some money to hire an established law firm web design pro? Several reasons.

First, for me, a designer website flunks the cost benefit analysis.  MyShingle isn’t a large enough source of revenue to justify a big spend, and has all the SEO it needs after nearly a dozen years of content production. Meanwhile – in contrast to Bob Ambrogi’s experience, I’ve found that most of my clients, and particularly referrals, are more likely to view my LinkedIn Profile (also in need of an update) than my law firm website.

Second, just as clients say about legal services, the same is true for web design – it’s not just the price but the value. When I shopped around for a design company, I found most wanted to upsell me on pricey add-ons for hosting, copywriting, content creation and SEO – services that I neither need nor want. Meanwhile, while many of the cheaper, “one-off” law firm design companies are reasonably priced (and a good option for lawyers who can’t or don’t want to DIY), most tend to offer overly-lawyer-looking, cookie-cutter and just plain ugly templates (maybe it’s the generic fonts and mustard or maroon tones) that just don’t appeal to me.

But the main reason that it doesn’t make sense to invest in a pricey website anymore? Moore’s Law – or at least a variant of it. Moore’s Law postulates that computer processing power would double exponentially, while relative cost would decrease. As explained here Moore’s observation is so significant because it “transformed computing from a rare and expensive venture into a pervasive and affordable necessity.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 8.52.11 AM The same holds true for web design. Technology changes so, so quickly – moving from those clunky, flashy self-coded HTML websites of the late 1990’s to languages like Moveable Type that powered blogs ten years ago to Word Press and the spare, elegant mobile design of today. Just two or three years ago, I had contemplated going with a one-page design which back then was so unique – yet now, is popular even for many law firm sites.  These days, designers birth unique, new themes daily – and most  are free or cheap and easily customizable even by tech novices. And because no one knows where web design is heading in the future why spend thousands of dollars to lock into a look that may be obsolete or even non-functional in six months or a year?

As with all advice, mileage may vary. If your website is your principal source of clients, or if you operate a virtual law firm where clients use your site daily and credibility is paramount, you have to suck up the cost of new development every 18 months as Lee Rosen suggests. But if you have a practice like mine that relies on a combination of traditional marketing (e-newsletter, speaking and lawyer referrals) and social media (Linked In & Twitter), you may want to reconsider a big spend on a website that will be out of style by next season. And with so many relatively easy to use and low cost options (even a five buck website if you want!, but more realistically, a few hundred dollars) and a little resourcefulness, you may never pay retail for a website again.


  1. Bryan Marble on October 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Given the way that technology is changing, 18 months does sound about right when it comes to one-off website redesigns. Which makes custom-built sites hard to keep up with financially.

    And style isn’t the only thing that changes. The underlying technologies are changing as well. For example, when Twitter or Facebook or Google make algorithm updates (which happens weekly at this point) you’re left in the dust unless you have someone that’s keeping track of those changes and suggesting updates.

    And then there’s security. Keeping up with security updates is more important than ever, particularly when dealing with common (and hence commonly targeted) platforms like WordPress and their plugins.

    So I guess all of that is to say, that shelling out thousands for a static site that isn’t updated until the next time you shell out thousands for a redesign is a suboptimal solution.

    It’s unfortunate that the only options appear to have been 1) build a site yourself and try to learn everything you need to know to keep up with changing tech; 2) use a website builder like Wix or GoDaddy that’s cheap and easy, but you get what you pay for; 3) pay a designer $5k for a templated site that needs to be replaced every 18 months; or 4) hire an agency that will cost an arm and two legs.

    My wife is a solo here in NH and we didn’t like any of those options given her need to preserve cashflow early on, so I built AmazeLaw around a hybrid model that might be of interest here… basically a nominal monthly fee that gets you a clean, mobile-friendly site that’s constantly updated to keep up with those technology changes and the personal service of an agency but for a monthly fee that costs ~1 billable hour/month (and no long term contracts, setup or cancellation fees designed to lock you in.)

    It’s definitely not for everyone, but there needed to be a better solution than spending big every 18 months.

  2. Peter Cabrera on November 3, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Law firms should also update their websites with technology changings.

  3. Bonds John on November 3, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Almost weekly updation of your website is necessary if you want more clients and be in the organic search list.

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