Finding free templates for law websites is not an easy task. Templates abound on the Internet, and usually they are well-designed and reasonably priced, some as low as $45 for a graphic-rich, CSS-enabled, fully functioning website.
The true bargain hunter - the most efficient of the office managers and marketing specialists for law firms - will look deeper, however, and track down the gems that lay buried underneath lines of advertising and harassing pop-up windows. Because free templates for law websites are out there. Like most "free" things on the Internet, though, it is supported by advertising.
The good news is that most of the time they are advertising relevant and useful products - in fact, often it is on a website featuring other templates. Most template-factory sites also design custom graphics and websites for clients, and of course feature many templates for not only legal firms but also business and personal sites. The free templates for law websites are usually simply bait to get customers in the showroom, so to speak.
Vetting Free Templates for Law Websites
There are a few different factors to keep in mind when you're about to choose a template, whether it's a free template for law websites or any other business.
- Compatibility - With the way the web changes, some websites even if free will have passed their expiration dates. Using frames instead of CSS, or using an outdated form of Flash are both examples of problems that will give site managers headaches. Make sure that the template has at least some semblance of web 2.0 technologies, such as RSS subscription capability, Flash, AJAX, and the like.
- Scalability - While a law firm may have very simple needs right now, it's likely that as business picks up there may be other pages or features needed on the website. Being able to easily change the buttons and other aspects of site navigation is essential. If the template contains multiple types of pages with the same theme - for example, a contacts page, a services page, and a staff bio page, all part of a cohesive design - that would be ideal.
- Support - In a perfect world, the site where the template has been acquired has online or phone support to assist the web designer or office manager in implementing it. For a free template, however, this is rather unlikely; more often there are user groups and FAQs that can be accessed to answer questions and difficulties that come up.
- Editability - At the very least, make sure that the template uses a technology that is familiar to whoever will be maintaining the site. HTML, CSS, Flash, there are many ways to go in designing a site, and if the person in charge of the site is not familiar with the technology, the free templates for law websites just cost time, frustration, and often additional classes to overcome the learning curve.
Sources for Free Law Templates
A Google search for free templates like this gets a few easy sources right away, though none offer more than one template for free.
- Free Templates Online is a well designed and professional site.
- Web Site Templates offers one free template also, but this is a good example of a well-designed site for the last millennium - by contemporary web standards, this is not a very impressive site at all.
That is the overwhelming theme when considering whether or not to use a free template for a website. While it may seem cost-efficient, using the one "law" template available makes it likely to have been used by many other firms. These simple templates offer very little flexibility to re-brand the site later on. A website is as much a representation of the office as the lawyers themselves, and a cheap website knocked off without any thought will not serve to impress and reassure clients.
If it is necessary to use free templates for law websites, it should only be as an interim step before the firm has its own unique brand designed by a professional web designer and hosted on a trusted web server.