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Inside the build of a law firm website: 3Chillies and Lewis Silkin session at the Passle CMO Live event

  • By 3chillies

Last week we were lucky enough to attend and speak at the inaugural Passle CMO Series Live event, an in-person one-day conference held in London that brought together marketers from legal and professional services firms.

This was an excellent event with a strong line-up of speakers, a great venue, and a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Congratulations to the Passle team in what we’re sure will become a must-attend event for legal marketing teams.

At the conference our CTO and co-founder Bryan Archer shared a stage with Alex Walker and Phil Tyler from Lewis Silkin in a session titled “Inside the build of a law firm website.”

This covered some of the learnings gained so far relating to a project to rebuild a new website for Lewis Silkin. Unusually, this session was about a project that is still ongoing rather than has been completed, but it offered plenty of insights into what legal marketing teams need to consider when planning a website project.

Here are six takeaways from the session.

1. Take time for discovery and consult with your stakeholders

Taking time for discovery is always an important step in planning and scoping a project. You can’t build a new website on assumptions. The team at Lewis Silkin spent time to understand the issues with their existing site and asked 3Chillies to carry out a site audit which gave an honest view of what its current challenges were, helping them to focus on what they wanted to achieve on the new site, as well as some of the specific requirements.

Internally the team at Lewis Silkin has also spent a lot of time consulting with different stakeholders who own existing sites and need to give input into the new project. Here, the emphasis has been on listening, a process which has proved extremely valuable.

Bryan reiterated that as part of any discovery exercise, different stakeholders should feel like they have given their input, so there is consensus about the new site, with clear clarification of scope. This is important as once you have started a build, you don’t want key stakeholders to be coming with changes or saying they don’t like the site and that they were never asked for their input.

2. Composable architecture is not completely new

One of the key themes of the Passle event was the power of composable architecture, where instead of using single, monolithic content management systems or digital experience platforms, websites are increasingly being built on an ecosystem of different “best of breed” solutions that work together through APIs.

Bryan reflected that while composable architecture is often a new concept for marketers, it’s actually been around a long time, as 3Chillies has often built sites which have integrations based on APIs, for example integrating a law firm’s CRM system or a platform like Passle alongside a main CMS.

Although the new Lewis Silkin site isn’t being built on a fully composable architecture, there are some aspects of the composable philosophy that are considerations for Lewis Silkin. For example, one of the conclusions of our site audit report for Lewis Silkin was that they are not using all the functionality in Sitecore, which the old website is based upon. One advantage of a composable architecture over a monolithic system is that you are less likely to be paying for features you are not using. Composable architecture can also be built in a way that supports sustainability and reduces carbon footprint, a factor that is important for the Lewis Silkin team.

3. Make integrations resilient 

Another “composable” element of the new Lewis Silkin project is an integration with Passle.  Bryan pointed out that integrations need to be resilient and realistically need ongoing management and monitoring. You can’t just switch on an integration and then walk away.

To ensure the Passle integration is working the way it should do, Bryan revealed that 3Chillies has built a Proof of Concept (PoC) for Lewis Silkin. It’s also important to think about how data, analytics and ongoing monitoring will be set up for the integration to make sure it is working but also delivering its intended value.

4. Be realistic about the roadmap and plan everything out

Bryan also pointed out that it was always essential to have everything clearly mapped out with a strong and detailed plan. The roadmap should build in expectations around the activities of both the agency and the client – this is important as marketing teams tend to get extremely busy and it is useful for them to know when their more detailed involvement is required for activities such as testing, preparing content and more.

As a general point, Bryan said that having an open and honest conversation about the roadmap, plan and associated budget upfront helps to reduce any misunderstandings between agency and client team.  

5. Don’t underestimate how long content takes

Near the end of the session, Bryan was asked for his key advice for anyone going into a law firm website project. One point is that it can take much longer to work on the content for a new website than expected, and often can even be the workstream that takes the longest. One of the reasons for this is that it can involve a wide variety of busy stakeholders who need to create and sign-off on new pages.

Bryan advised that it was always worth thinking about the processes and tools used to manage content before you start. For example, there can be real advantages of using a tool like GatherContent to take a more structured approach to creating and signing-off content, which can then be used as the system for managing content independent of the CMS.

6. Love your backlog

Another piece of advice from Bryan was to record all your feedback and create a backlog of website features, requests and enhancements that can be prioritised into different phases. This not only creates a roadmap of improvements and supports effective planning, but also ensures that stakeholder feedback is incorporated. You can keep on capturing great ideas and supports an improvement mindset; everybody should love their backlog.

See you next year?

Thanks to the team at Lewis Silkin for presenting with us for a great session, as well as to the Passle team for making it all happen. If you’re a legal or professional services marketing team perhaps see you at next year’s event?  And feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss your website project.

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