If you’re only starting your online journey, the first thing you’ll need to find is a good and reliable hosting provider. Most law firms and lawyers automatically go for WordPress.com or Lawlytics. You also may have heard of easy-to-use sites like Squarespace or Wix, which are similar. These sites offer both hosting and a simple website editing interface in one package. However, any of these simple-to-use options are rarely the optimal solution for your law firm’s website.
With WordPress.com, you get limited resources on an as-needed basis. Meanwhile Lawlytics acts like a lawyer-specific version of WordPress. They may be the default choice of many, but more experienced webmasters will rarely recommend them – simply because you can get better deals elsewhere.
In other words, choosing WordPress.org – the free website editing framework (not to be confused with WordPress.com) – with a separate hosting provider is usually better in the long term. If you’re wise enough to choose a good hosting company, you can stay with them indefinitely. This can’t really be said for WordPress.com, due to their limits. Similarly, Lawlytics is far too expensive in the long term.
Sooner or later, the limits imposed by WordPress.com and the Lawlytics fees will start to weigh in and slow down your legal website and affect your law firm’s progress. Naturally, that’s the last thing you want from your host – ruining your visitors’ viewing experience.
Now, if you’re thinking of going down the route recommended here, you may be asking yourself: How am I supposed to know what a good hosting provider is? Well, there is no need for you to bother with all the technicalities of hosting. Simply read through our article on how to find the best hosting provider for law firms and attorneys.
The first thing you will want to examine when checking out a hosting provider is the server location.
The location should always be the first criteria you consider, because it will allow you to quickly disqualify a large number of hosting companies. When looking for a hosting service, always look for a company that is located in the same or in a neighboring country.
In general, the greater the distance between the server and your website visitors is, the longer the load time will be.
Arguably the most commonly overlooked factor when it comes to hosting is system compatibility. Most people are reluctant to switch between operating systems just for their website. It’s likely that you won’t be ready to do it either.
If you’re going through hosting providers, take note of the operating systems that they support. This is another easy way to disqualify a large number of unsuitable providers.
Bandwidth and disk space
The next thing you want to consider is bandwidth and disk space.
New websites may be able to get by on a teaspoon of bandwidth and disk space, but each site grows naturally over time. The more media content you use, the more bandwidth you will need.
To avoid any network problems, always choose a hosting provider that offers unlimited bandwidth and disk space.
Infrastructure redundancy represents the hosting company’s ability to keep uninterrupted service running at all times. The best providers have full redundancy, which means that they have backup resources that will take over in case any part of the system fails.
Redundancy is essential for keeping websites accessible at all times. If you’re unsure about how redundant the hosting company’s infrastructure is, go with a provider that guarantees at least 99% uptime.
If you’re planning to host a law firm website with a company for the long run, you will need to assess their security credentials. You will want a hosting provider that implements server-wide DDoS protection and firewalls, as well as provides free SSL certificates.
Nowadays, most companies offer all these security measures as part of their hosting plans. However, you will have to make sure that these are included within each plan, rather than bought as separate addons.
As with any other service or product, you should carefully evaluate the customer support of the hosting company. Thankfully, this part is the easiest to check.
Today, most hosting company websites come with a Live Chat feature that you can test to check the support that the company offers. Simply send them a message with a brief question about their hosting service. Wait for the reply and check their response time.
As a general rule, your hosting provider should be able to respond to each question and clear any doubts within 24 hours (12 hours preferably). This will ensure that you have direct contact with company representatives in case something unexpected happens with your website.
These were the six essential factors to consider before you start a website and choose a hosting provider for your law firm. If you would like some more concrete advice, check back on our blog next week. Stay tuned for our selection of the best hosting providers for lawyers and legal companies.