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Review and Compare

WordPress for Lawyers

This article reviews WordPress for law firms and compares it to LawLytics with the goal of helping attorneys decide which platform is best for their law firm’s website.

WordPress Review For Lawyers

WordPress is by far the most popular general-purpose website software in the world. It is used by tens of thousands of different types of businesses, hobbyists, non-profits and news sites. There are over 1.3 billion websites in the world, and it has been estimated that more than 450 million of them use WordPress. There are many reasons for this. WordPress is an excellent general purpose platform, and it’s free to use. These things make it very attractive to tech savvy business owners who are willing to spend significant time learning and maintaining the technology. And the price of WordPress (free) makes it attractive to a vast majority of marketing agencies.

As good of a platform as WordPress is for agencies and tech-savvy business owners with time on their hands, many lawyers find that they struggle with the platform and become frustrated by the constant upkeep that it requires. Lawyers often realize that even thought WordPress is free, it comes with serious opportunity costs.

For tech-savvy lawyers who understand servers, plugins, deign and SEO, and who are committed to spending the time needed to thrive using a general purpose DIY website platform, we believe that WordPress is a better bet compared to Wix, Weebly and Squarespace.

There are two primary reasons for this opinion:

  1. WordPress is open source and free. While this creates vulnerabilities (see below) and attracts opportunist marketing agencies who see an opportunity to “resell” a free service, for tech-savvy lawyers it means that there is more flexibility and opportunity using WordPress vs. the other popular general purpose website platforms..
  2. WordPress is scalable. It is rare to see high-performing law firm websites on the other platforms. And while it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to build a dominant law firm website using WordPress, for attorneys who are willing to spend the time with a general purpose DIY website platform, WordPress presents an overall greater long-term opportunity than the others.

But for attorneys who don’t want to take on a long-term additional job of maintaining their websites, and want to avoid the pitfalls that come with all general purpose DIY systems, there is an easier and more convenient alternative to WordPress that works equally well for non-techies and techies alike.

WordPress for lawyers vs. LawLytics

The remainder of this article compares WordPress to our platform. The information below is meant to be useful to attorneys who are either using, or considering using WordPress with either on their own or with a marketing agency. It presents information to help attorneys understand the benefits and risks of using WordPress, as well as how LawLytics is different than WordPress.

LawLytics is built exclusively for law firms, so unlike WordPress, everything that attorneys need is built in. LawLytics gives lawyers all the power and benefits of WordPress, but without the technical work, risks, hidden costs, and headaches.

While WordPress is a viable choice for law firm websites, Lawyers frequently switch from WordPress to LawLytics because LawLytics provides them with the ability to scale their website without struggling with software. LawLytics saves lawyers time and money compared to WordPress because our technology, strategy, support, and services are all built around the way that law firms work, so attorneys don’t struggle, waste their valuable time, and miss opportunities.

There is nothing technically wrong with WordPress. In fact, it’s the most frequently used website management software in the world. And it can be great for businesses with large marketing budgets and/or dedicated marketing staff, designers, and coders. But that doesn’t make it the optimal choice for the average solo practitioner and small law firm that wants to efficiently get more clients online.

We created LawLytics to provide attorneys with all of the benefits of using WordPress with none of the drawbacks. Here are some of the drawbacks of WordPress for attorneys and how LawLytics solves those problems:

WordPress is not built for law firms.

WordPress powers about 30% of all websites on the internet. Because it is general-purpose website software, it must provide a minimum viable experience for all types of end-users, and requires significant work, modifications, and technical maintenance for attorneys to use it successfully. This creates an ongoing burden and high opportunity costs for attorneys who self-manage WordPress, and unnecessary expenses for attorneys who choose to outsource the maintenance of the free, open-source software.

LawLytics is built exclusively for law firms. It works out of the box and contains everything that lawyers need to build, grow, and maintain a successful law firm website. All of the technical burdens are removed, so attorneys can easily use it to grow a cost-efficient flow of new clients and revenue.

WordPress has hidden costs for law firms.

The true cost of owning a WordPress website is deceptively high. Companies that use WordPress on a high level make substantial investments in code development, security, expensive servers, or high-end hosting (in the thousands or tens-of-thousands a month), maintenance, and design. Unless your law firm has a substantial marketing budget and/or the expertise to manage WordPress at a high level, you may soon realize that the bottom line is much different than you thought in terms of out-of-pocket and opportunity costs.

LawLytics is built for lawyers to avoid the frustration of the hidden costs of using “free” general-purpose, open-source website software like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and others. Everything you need to have a successful website (and to scale it as big as you want in terms of both size and traffic) is built into our predictable monthly fee.

Because the LawLytics platform is highly specialized, cloud-based, and widely used by a large number of law firms, we can efficiently deliver a superior experience for attorneys at a lower true cost over the lifetime of your law firm’s website.

WordPress is not natively SEO-friendly for law firms.

Law firm WordPress vendors tout WordPress as a SEO remedy for attorneys. Some even go so far as to claim that Google prefers WordPress legal websites over sites running on other systems. This is sales rhetoric, plain and simple.

The truth is that WordPress is not SEO-friendly without the use of plugins. Even with plugins, WordPress — like any other website software — requires high-quality content that is organized and deployed correctly. There is no WordPress SEO plugin that does this for attorneys.

The LawLytics technology, combined with the strategic guidance and support that comes with your membership, gives you everything you need build a dominant search engine presence using sustainable law firm SEO methods that will never get your firm’s website penalized or banned by search engines.

We have small law firms that have gone from little or no traffic when they joined LawLytics to 10,000 unique visitors or more every month to their LawLytics website, all within the space of a year.

WordPress has security issues.

If you choose WordPress — whether you self-host on a server in your home or office (not recommended!), use a shared hosting system, or get your law firm’s WordPress site through an agency — your law firm will have cybersecurity needs and obligations. You’ll need to worry more about bugs, malware, hacking, sabotage, link hijacking, and many other things that can ruin your web presence, your business, your reputation, and potentially expose you to ethics inquiries.

Assuming that you want to let your potential clients and clients fill out forms on your firm’s WordPress website, you’ll need to use one of the many third-party forms plugins that are available for WordPress. The problem is that you (or your agency) may not know who developed the plugin, how secure it is, and how it’s going to behave. And, you absolutely need forms on your website or you will miss potential client inquiries.

Some common WordPress form plugins have complex settings, including the ability to use website forms to create new public blog posts or add other public content to the website. These settings can be tricky. It’s easy to misconfigure a forms plugin, and it’s easy for plugins to break or become reconfigured during software updates.

WordPress forms submissions are typically stored within the WordPress admin control panel and database. If you’re on shared hosting (used by most marketing agencies), this can mean that all the information your potential clients and clients send you through your website will remain in a table of a database shared by many (if not many hundreds) of other businesses.

This means that you’re reliant on the host company (for which you or your agency may be paying as little as $2 per month) to keep the database software and security settings up to date and to properly wall off access between your database space and the space of their other users.

If you are using WordPress for your law firm’s website, it is also important for you to understand that many people contribute to the WordPress codebase. They are located all over the world, so many are outside the jurisdiction of the United States.

These WordPress developers are building for the general public, not for lawyers. Most (if not all of them) are not primarily focused on the confidentiality and privacy issues that are highly relevant to lawyers and their clients. Marketing agencies that use WordPress for attorney websites typically don’t develop their own security protocols. Declaring that they understand the legal industry does nothing to further the security of your firm, nor to absolve you of responsibility.

The internet is a dangerous place, and there’s never a time where any website or application can say that it’s entirely secure. However, as a lawyer, you have an obligation to safeguard against known dangers and liabilities. You don’t want to get out of a week-long trial and discover that your website has been hacked and riddled with links to unrelated sites (we’ve seen that on WordPress sites), that your phone number on your website has been changed to a number that forwards to your competitor’s office (we’ve seen that on WordPress sites), or that your potential client forms are now being sent to a competitor (we’ve seen it) or published on your blog (we’ve heard of it happening).

With WordPress, these are all real risks. The only way to mitigate the risks is to remain constantly vigilant, keep the software up to date, have regular professional security audits done, and invest in high-quality hosting. And, just because you pay a law firm marketing company thousands of dollars to build or host your WordPress website does not mean that they are using high-quality hosting.

LawLytics is a closed system. This means that we have the ability to engineer and regulate our own security. We only allow attorneys and related professionals to join, and nobody outside of LawLytics has access to our codebase or database.

We regularly fix compromised WordPress law firm websites by bringing them into the LawLytics system. Often, these sites were hosted in a shared environment with web hosting companies that were supposed to be monitoring for hacking and malware but failed to notice serious breaches for months.

WordPress has a steep learning curve for lawyers.

Attorneys struggle to use WordPress because the interface is not intuitive for lawyers. In WordPress, it’s really easy to break things. For example, we’ve seen attorneys who have inadvertently de-indexed their entire site in the search engines by pressing the wrong button in WordPress.

Attorneys typically don’t enjoy logging into WordPress. And, when it’s not enjoyable, it doesn’t get used and your firm doesn’t grow.

When attorneys switch from WordPress to LawLytics, they usually tell us how easy our system is by comparison. Attorneys who didn’t believe that they could effectively participate in their marketing (because of their experiences with WordPress) have become actively engaged after moving to LawLytics. Through this active engagement, they’ve added significant additional revenue to their firms.

The WordPress menu system is frustrating for lawyers.

In WordPress, the menu system is separated from the pages. This is a common way that general website software addresses menus, but it isn’t optimal for attorneys. This is because it’s not possible to edit the content of a page and rearrange its place in the menu system in relation to other pages at the same time. This frustrates attorneys, especially when they are attempting to build content-rich sites with information about multiple practice areas.

The LawLytics website menu system is built with lawyers in mind. You can rearrange the pages in your website’s navigation by dragging and dropping them, so you can see exactly where the page is located in relation to other pages.

WordPress requires plugins to work for law firms.

Using WordPress, marketers with no programming skills can piece together or approximate website features that attorneys need by using free and cheap “plugins.” These plugins can be downloaded and installed on your law firm’s WordPress website from a “marketplace” of plugins within the WordPress Dashboard. It’s much like using the Google Play or the Apple Apps Store to install apps on your cell phone, but with a significant potential downside to your firm. You — and even your website agency — may never know if a plugin that is installed on your website is vulnerable (at least not until it’s too late).

Plugins do not need to work as intended — or even be secure — to be available to install on websites. Whether a plugin works or not is typically only discovered after it is installed, or by reading reviews that others have written about the plugin.

There are no required security, integrity, or criminal background checks for WordPress plugin authors. Anybody is allowed to develop and give away or sell WordPress plugins. Because anybody can download these plugins, everybody in the world also has the ability to access a plugin’s source code. This access gives bad actors additional points of weakness to exploit or hack your website, steal your data or client information, or sabotage your marketing.

When you or your marketing agency install a WordPress plugin, that’s not the end of the story.

WordPress is constantly updating the core code of the software. Sometimes the updates are to add or improve features. But often they are done to fix bugs and security issues (see this archive of WordPress Security Updates). When WordPress issues a security update, you usually should update your law firm’s website immediately.

But, even if you religiously update your WordPress codebase whenever new versions are released, the authors of the plugins that your site is dependent on may also need to update their plugins to remain secure, functional, and compatible with the new WordPress update. This is not something that you or your WordPress agency can typically do, so it’s out of your control. To their credit, some developers do this very quickly. But others never do, leaving your law firm’s WordPress website broken or vulnerable.

When you update your core WordPress software, you may have plugins that stop working entirely, break parts of your website, make your website look bad, or cause serious security issues. Again, you might not know that the security issues are there until it’s too late. For attorneys, WordPress can be a game of trust and chance.

LawLytics does not require plugins because everything that attorneys need to have a thriving website is built in. When we add or update features, or enhance security, your LawLytics website gets the updates instantly. There’s never any effort required on your part, never any independent developers to rely on, and never concerns about parts of your website lagging or breaking.

WordPress websites are often slow or load unpredictably.

WordPress sites can be made fast with the right (and expensive) combination of optimization, caching, routing, and hosting. But the addition of many plugins and the use of heavy themes coupled with bargain hosting can make your law firm’s WordPress website so slow that it causes some potential clients to abandon your website.

Even higher-end shared WordPress hosting is susceptible to something called the “noisy neighbor effect.” This happens when a shared website hosting environment — which may contain hundreds of other websites — has a limited amount of processing power, memory, and bandwidth, and those resources are being hogged by a website that is either getting a lot of traffic or running a lot of processes. If you’re on shared WordPress hosting, and you notice that your site periodically loads slowly, you may be a victim of the noisy neighbor effect. There’s not much that you can do about it.

We’ve seen WordPress attorney websites that regularly produce errors when loading through a web browser. One common error is caused by insufficient allocation of memory to PHP (the server-side programming language that WordPress runs on).

It’s not good for business when your potential clients see “Fatal error: Allowed memory size of…” and a white screen instead of your law firm’s website. But this can and does happen regularly with WordPress. Although it’s a fairly easy fix that particular problem for those able to FTP into their website, figuring out how to do this and then taking the time to do it should not be on the list of things that attorneys need to worry about.

LawLytics is built on an elastic, cloud-based architecture that only members of LawLytics have the right or ability to host on. Our system adjusts to balance server load and bandwidth so that there is always more than enough power to accommodate your law firm’s traffic, regardless of how big it grows.

You’ll never need to worry about noisy neighbors or making adjustments because we built the ability to adjust right into our infrastructure. This ensures your law firm doesn’t miss website visitors and potential new clients.

The LawLytics platform is battle-tested, and we have individual law firm websites that get 1,000+ unique visitors a day on our system with zero slowdowns, bottlenecks, or downside.

FAQs About WordPress and LawLytics

The following are questions that we have gotten from attorneys considering moving their law firm’s website(s) from WordPress to LawLytics or debating whether to start a new site with WordPress or LawLytics.

Why doesn’t LawLytics use WordPress to build legal websites?

We wanted to make websites easier for attorneys.

Adding to their burden by choosing WordPress would have been contrary to our core value of empowering lawyers. WordPress is simply not the best system for most solo practitioners and small law firms that want to focus on growing their practices without becoming technology and internet marketing experts.

WordPress was first released on May 27, 2003. Over the years, it has been modified from a basic blogging platform to a blogging and website platform. In order to continue evolving, WordPress is dependent on a network of open-source volunteer contributors. This has led to a bloated codebase that is not ideal for the streamlined and specialized legal marketing system that we wanted LawLytics to be.

When should I cancel my law firm’s WordPress website?

If your website is still live during the migration process into LawLytics, we recommend that you keep it live on the internet until we launch your LawLytics site.

If your WordPress website has been hacked, or if you are with an expensive WordPress agency and want to stop paying them as soon as possible, we may be able to expedite the time to launch.

As soon as your LawLytics website is launched, you can cancel your WordPress hosting or agency relationship. If you were running your own website on shared hosting, it’s simply a matter of canceling your website hosting plan. With most vendors, this is a matter of changing the settings to stop auto-renew.

Do you have references who have been on both WordPress and LawLytics?

Yes. We’re happy to provide references and put you in touch with them as part of the larger conversation about switching from WordPress to LawLytics.

What is your experience moving law firm websites from WordPress to LawLytics?

WordPress is one of the most common platforms from which we import websites into LawLytics. We are highly experienced doing it and have a playbook and track record for successful moves that result in no downtime.

How long does it take to complete the migration from WordPress to LawLytics?

The time from account creation to launch of your website can be as rapid as two weeks but may be longer depending on a number of factors. The most significant variables that affect the total setup time are:

  1. The number of pages to be imported from your WordPress website; and
  2. The configuration of your WordPress site, and whether it was set to create a non-beneficial amount of “junk” pages from blog post tags, categories and date archives, and how many tags and categories you (or your agency) used. The more tags and categories, the more cleanup we will need to do during the import process. We’ve seen law firms that added five or even ten tags to each blog post, which creates hundreds of pages that needed to be assessed for import. This can slow the process down.
  3. Your availability to provide us with design feedback.

In emergency situations, we’ve been able to convert and launch small WordPress law firm websites within 24 hours.

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