Some firms surprised to learn they do not own their Web sites
February 18, 2010
Many law firms upgrading their Web sites are surprised to learn they do not own their online assets.
They are forced to pay their original designer and hosting company substantial additional (often nonnegotiable) fees when they want to make a change in who hosts, designs and optimizes a new Web site. The expensive alternative for many has been to start over from scratch with only their content salvageable from their original site.
Law firms are not alone in discovering this. Friends of ours in construction, accounting and other professional services firms have run into this problem. In each case, the firms had decided to use new designers to replace sites functioning passively as online brochures (so-called Web 1.0 sites.) The new sites are to generate leads and compete for viewership on the Internet (so-called Web 2.0 sites).
In short, you want to make sure your firm owns all of its digital assets. This helps you manage costs and gives you maximum control of your law firm marketing. You want to have a site with programming code that is “open source”, not custom, one supported by a large, active and public development community. This allows you to hire anyone you want to work on the site– not just your original designer and programmer. Examples of open source are Drupal and Joomla.
Here’s a great article listing the questions to ask anyone you are hiring to create a Web site, and give details of why you should.
The shift away traditional media and advertising is inexorable (and is confirmed by our latest national marketing effectiveness survey of law firms). As firms make ever larger investments of time and money in their digital assets the proper handling these transactions is increasingly critical.