Regular maintenance for your law firm website is like maintaining your car - washing, vacuuming, servicing or replacing the tyres - you don’t have to do it but if you want it to run smoothly, perform at its best and to look impressively clean and tidy, it’s essential.
Many companies, and some law firms, spend a lot of time and money on regularly updating the content on their websites – rightfully so as this is critical for a successful online presence, but maintenance does not stop there.
Often, very little attention is given to regular internal maintenance for that same website, the parts that might not be immediately obvious, which are under the hood to continue the car analogy. This maintenance is often more technical and is equally important as making the website look good as it can impact your reputation, your website search engine results, website security and customer experience.
Like any shopfront, your law firm website requires ongoing maintenance – particularly given it is at the forefront of your brand and often the first interaction your potential clients have with your practice.
As an important cog in your marketing strategy, it’s imperative that your website operates as smoothly as possible, maximising every marketing dollar and creating the best possible first impression.
Outlined below are some common website maintenance tasks for WordPress websites, the most popular platform for law firm websites.
Update WordPress Software
You should be aware of updates as they become available and implement the update as soon as you can.
As a worst case, it’s recommended that you check for updates to your WordPress platform at least once a month. These updates typically include fixes to performance issues, new advanced features and improved security, reducing the vulnerability of your website.
Update Plugins and Themes
Most law firm websites have plugins installed, extending functionality and personalising the design. However, with the ongoing rapid development of new plugins, it’s easy to fall into the trap of loading unnecessary plugins, resulting in clutter.
Too many plugins affect a site’s performance and, in many cases, certain plugins can conflict with your core website functionality and security. As part of a regular maintenance regime, you should consider removing those plugins you no longer use and check for updates of those you do. Outdated plugins offer a window of opportunity for hackers to access your website. Plugin and theme developers often release a new version of their software to coincide with each new major WordPress update to ensure compatibility.
The load speed of your website plays a critical role in your search engine results and visitor experience. The faster each page of your website opens, the better your search engine results and the happier your visitors.
One way to enhance the speed of your law firm website is to optimise your database – the place where all your content, images, videos and audios are stored.
As your website grows, so does your database, slowing down the speed of your website. Therefore, it’s imperative that irrelevant code, records and spam comments are removed on a regular basis, images are compressed and trash folders are emptied etc.
To further improve website speed you should be using a separate content delivery network, an offsite repository and delivery service that delivers website pages and other content to a user, based on the geographic locations of the user.
Whilst WordPress is considered an incredibly stable platform, it’s not fail-proof. As a minimum, your website should be backed up every month and stored offsite. Back-ups don’t impact the performance of your site but do offer peace-of-mind that your website can be restored should something go wrong.
There are various ways you can back-up your law firm website, for example through your hosting provider, plugins or downloading a local copy of your website via FTP. The option that best suits your law firm depends on the skills you have available to recover your website should the need arise.
Maintaining a website, like washing and servicing a car, may be considered a tedious task, but the cost of neglecting it is high.
Regular maintenance could be performed by someone in your law firm, however, sometimes you might need to engage experts as ensuring the tasks are completed plays an important role in the uptime of your website. The longer a site goes without maintenance, the more likely it is that it is not performing at its peak functionality and the more difficult it becomes when fixing performance issues.
The reality is that it costs more to repair a website than to maintain it. Whether this is done by your law firm, your web guy or by your hosting provider, ongoing website maintenance is good business practice as it not only enhances security, performance, functionality and customer experience – but it also maximises the uptime of your website, improving the success of your website as a marketing tool and increasing your return on investment.
If you need any help with anything to do with your website you can email us here, we'd be happy to help.
About the author
Brian has more than twenty years' experience in marketing and management across diverse industries including legal, real estate, tourism and technology. Brian lives in Sydney with his wife and two daughters.