Congrats -- You Finally Launched A Website. Now Get To Work

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You did it.

You finally developed your website, and you are understandably proud of your accomplishment. It took a long time and a lot of thought. You have succeeded in creating a perfect marketing vehicle too. Now you can finally relax, right?

Wrong. Website maintenance is just as important as its development. Undoubtedly due to the enormous amount of work it takes to create a website, many firms make the mistake of treating it as a static document; once it's published, they believe that their work is complete. But the Internet is not a billboard; it's an integral part of most people's lives that changes as quickly as life itself, and a vibrant, updated website is a vital draw that pulls in the business of the modern customer.

How do you know if it's time to update your website? It is if the sun rises. That's not to say the site needs a weekly overhaul, but even if it's only to update lawyer biographies make regular tweaks. Sites that contain obsolete information — even if it's only been obsolete for a day or two — reflect poorly upon a firm, because visitors to the site base their perception of the firm on the quality and maintenance of the site they're visiting.

Maintaining a website can be troublesome if a firm has to hire an outside webmaster to make all of the changes. Not only is it expensive over time, but often webmasters are slow to respond to a firm's requests or fail to make the changes at all.

An alternative is to train at least one person in the firm to act as the webmaster and make updates to the site. Currently, most sites require the use of file transfer protocol (FTP) to make changes to the site. FTP is not a terribly difficult Internet communication protocol; however, it is not a tool with which most people are familiar, and the firm must pay for a special FTP account with the firm's Internet service provider, as well as invest time and training for someone to become familiar with the process.

Another alternative is to allow nontechnical people to easily add or change site content without knowing the technological details required by hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) and FTP. Individual lawyers or other personnel having responsibility for the content in various parts of the site can manage their area of responsibility by literally dragging files to the website through their browsers. For example, a lawyer who publishes a weekly newsletter on the website could easily add the document to the site directly from his local computer or network drive.

Such a solution may be appropriate for lawyers who want to create an information-hub site but do not want to expend the resources required to hire a webmaster. Even more important, by eliminating the barriers to web content management a firm can more easily encourage its lawyers to create a dynamic hub of information in which new content can literally be added on a daily basis by any lawyer wishing to do so.

A potential client bases the decision of whether to hire a firm largely on a first impression, and now more than ever a firm's website is that first impression. Current clients visit the website to check out what new and interesting information has been posted. In both cases, an unmaintained site will turn off clients and repel business. A small investment of time and money in upkeep will undoubtedly reap huge rewards in new and repeat business.

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