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The importance of web design

31 March 2017 - By Kate Geenty

There are three main things to consider when looking to redesign your existing website or start from scratch – how it looks, how it functions and what exactly you want the site to achieve.

Deciding if you like a designer’s work based on looks is probably the easiest part of the equation. You can start by taking a look at their website to get a feel for their aesthetic and whether it appeals to you. Also look for examples of their other work to see if that is suitable. They should showcase their work on their site, or be willing to provide case studies or references if you ask. Ask specifically to see examples of work they’ve done for other lawyers, law firms or professional services firms.

What do you need?

Before engaging a web designer ask yourself what you want your website to achieve. Is it simply an online business card? Is it to engage and inform current clients? Attract new clients? Highlight your expertise? Build your brand? Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve will save time once you get to the actual design process.

A notebook, tablet and mobile phone on a table

Former lawyer Jamie Twigg, who owns the Napier-based web design company 543 Online, says most lawyers need a fairly simple informational website – one that highlights their contact details and expertise, and includes things like lawyer profiles, news updates and potentially blogs.

“The main thing I always say to lawyers or other professionals, is what are your core services or expertise? Then you make sure you structure a site so you have pages on each of those expertise. Then you’ve automatically increased your chances of being found based on web searches on those expertise.”

Simplicity better than flashy designs

Some form of basic search engine optimisation (SEO) – which is how search engines like Google find you – should be included in the initial web build.

“When we first build a website, and most web designers do this, it will be set up so it can be found by search engines. But keeping it up to date and tracking it month-to-month is another thing,” says Mr Twigg. Some designers will offer ongoing SEO services, so check on ongoing services and prices.

Another former lawyer turned web expert, Paul Steele, says a web designer’s knowledge of the legal industry should also be taken into account. “You need to be confident that they know what law firm customers and prospects would expect to see on a website,” says Mr Steele who runs Law 2 Web, a company focused on creating and maintaining websites, social media pages and intranets for lawyers and law firms.

Mr Steele says simplicity usually works better than flashy, convoluted designs. “We like a clear, precise, crisp design with nothing unexpected.”

Getting simple things right is also important, such as making contact information easily accessible on the homepage. “Having a clear understanding of what people want to see on a website is important, and that includes intuitive site navigation and clear contact points,” he says.

Custom or templates?

The system your website will be built in is another important thing to consider. Will it be a custom design using bespoke software or will it use templates? If your designer uses a bespoke system, will you be able to upload content yourself or will you have to rely on them to do it for you. More importantly, if you decide to part ways with the firm, who owns your site’s intellectual property?

Ask about prices before you commit to anything, and also how the payments will be broken down. “As an example, we go half upfront and half on completion, which I think is pretty standard,” says Mr Twigg.

Key questions to ask

Find out exactly what is and isn’t included in the price and ask about extras such as hosting fees, ongoing SEO services, how much maintenance, training and support is included in the price, and the cost for future tweaks or content refreshers.

Do you want to be able to change and update content yourself or do you want them to handle it for you? What about analytical reporting of traffic and how visitors use the site?

There are literally hundreds of web designers who could design your site. Here are a few that either focus on law firms, or have experience designing for lawyers. These listings are not an endorsement of their services.


Details: Expert is a Wellington-based full-service website design and development company. Web design services include website architecture and creative brief planning, custom website design, custom template design, and CMS (content management system) training. Expert Developments, to give it it’s full title, also offers content management services including content strategy and planning, content writing including blogs and e-newsletters and search engine optimisation (SEO) support.

Market: General.

Owner/Developer: Founded by Evan Bayly and Aaron Main in 1998.

Indicative Pricing: Depends on nature of work.



Details: Law 2 Web specialises in developing websites and intranets for New Zealand lawyers and law firms. They conduct audits of existing websites and look at search engine optimisation and how changes to content and layout could improves the effectiveness of a site. They also create new websites using the WordPress platform. Part of the build process includes initial SEO work and assisting with content, domain name registration or renewal. They provide hosting, maintenance and support services as well as analytics reporting.

Market: Lawyers and law firms.

Owner/Developer: Former lawyer Paul Steele and web designer and developer Steven Gardner.

Indicative Pricing: Web consultation, design, initial SEO work and Go Live: from $1,450 for a barrister, $1,750 for a sole principal or director, $2,250 for a firm with two to four partners. Prices are available on request for larger firms. Content, photography and videography are extra but base service includes project management of these aspects. Hosting, maintenance and support services available at various monthly rates.



Details: 543 Design aims to be a ‘one-stop’ shop, that offers branding and online marketing services, as well as social media and search engine optimisation services alongside its web design service. Based in Napier, but services the whole of the country with around 75% of its customers based outside Hawke’s Bay.

Market: Professional services firms and small businesses.

Owner/Developer: Former lawyer Jamie Twigg.

Indicative Pricing: $1,199 plus GST for a multi-page, informational website.



Details: The Christchurch-based firm’s services include web design, content management, online marketing, e-commerce and custom web development. They also offer copywriting, graphic design, domain name registration, hosting and server monitoring services.

Market: General.

Owner/Developer: Founded in 1998, Limelight Online is a subsidiary of online marketing company Apex Digital.

Indicative Pricing: Depends on nature of work.



Details: A full service website design and digital marketing company. Zeald has a seven-step design process that goes from working out what you want your website to do, to creating an online business plan, then designing, building and loading your site. It also offers website audits and online marketing services including SEO, copywriting, social media, adwords, online marketing and split testing.

Market: Small to medium businesses.

Owner/Developer: Founded by brothers David and Brent Kelly and their cousin Hamish Braddick in 2001.

Indicative Pricing: Depends on nature of work.



Details: Auckland-based Zyber specialises in small-to-medium enterprises and creates custom template designs using the Squarespace content management system. They also offer digital marketing services including SEO, paid advertising and social media campaigns.

Market: Small to medium businesses.

Owner/Developer: Formed in 2009 by James Sampson and James Monk.

Indicative Pricing: Depends on nature of work.



Last updated on the 31st March 2017