Half-baked websites are hard to digest


You have only a single chance to make a good first impression. You know that when you make a cake for a special guest it has to be perfect, no matter what the circumstances are.

The same applies to your online presence. That is why, you have to make sure that your new website is not accessible to the open public unless it is 100% ready.

Do I really need to test?

Every time you create or redesign a law firm website (or any other website for that matter), there are at least a few rounds of tests. They are conducted by the design and development team, as well as by the client or even some of the future recipients. At the end of the day, you do it to make their life easier.

You do that to make sure, that once the website is published it will look and work as expected. It is also to assure that your prospective clients have a smooth experience and get what they are looking for.

At different points of the creative process, your website will lack the final features, design details or content. It is easy to oversee something before going online.

What you simply must test?

It depends on the stage you are in, but you should at least make sure that:

  • content is up-to-date
  • stock photos are purchased and without watermarks
  • links lead to designated locations
  • contact forms work and you receive inquiries.

Here are 3 examples of things you can expect to find during your testing journey:

  • “dummy content” – used by many WordPress themes to fill the website with random content so you won’t look at blank pages; if you work with a design studio or legal marketing agency they should make sure there is no dummy content before publication
  • dead ends – links that take you to non-existing URL’s; it applies both to pages on your website and files that were meant to be downloaded. If this problem occurs, typically you will be redirected to the home page or you will get to “404 error page”
  • contact form that makes it impossible to contact your law firm – beautiful design is just the beginning when it comes to contact forms. Its role is to gather inquiries or other kinds of information; if there is no database or a simple email account attached on the other side, you will miss your clients’ messages.

How to test?

You should test and retest all of these issues before you make your website accessible to anyone on the Internet.

If your law firm’s website is still under development apply these 3 simple rules:

  • use random testing links that are revealed only to the team members, so nobody can access the site
  • use “no-index” and “no-follow” attributes temporarily, so Google robots will not include your unfinished website into search results (your legal marketing agency will know what does it mean)
  • use password protection to access test version of the website.

For testing purposes, you may use various, mostly advanced tools, but you can also start with a simple checklist with all pages of your website in rows and features in columns – that way you won’t forget any details.

Wait until it is ready

Take your time before publishing your new website. Pay attention to details, because they are what really matters.

There are situations that you really want to go online on a certain date. From my experience, you should plan it in advance and don’t choose Friday as a “go live” date. It creates tension, makes people on both sides nervous and may spoil the beginning of your weekend.

It is better to postpone the publication date and to make a double check than to go online too early and make people point out errors instead of saying “good job”.

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