This is the next post in my Website Options for Law Firms series. My last post provided a review of Scorpion Web Design. In this article I’ll discuss whether your firm should employ the services of LexisNexis in building its website. It’s my extremely strong suggestion that you look to someone besides LexisNexis for your firm’s web needs.
My experience in evaluating LexisNexis as a law firm’s website option
Attorneys are familiar with LexisNexis as a company. Lexis holds itself out as providing website design services, video marketing services, and assistance with social media. As I have in each of my posts during this series, I’m going to start by discussing my experience in evaluating Lexis.
I recently spoke with a colleague who had previously used LexisNexis to design and manage his firm’s personal injury website. I have to describe his experience as disturbing. He informed me that when the site was built, Lexis failed to secure the server and the site was hacked. This then led to Google placing a disclaimer next to his site in search results that the site “may be harmful to your computer.” It goes without saying that this will dissuade any potential clients from visiting one’s site.
I visited the website for Lexis’ attorney marketing division. My browser initially blocked the site with a warning that “only secure content is displayed.” This warning typically means that at least a portion of a website is being served from a server that is not secure. Below is a screenshot of my browser when I tried to access the website.
Given the experience my colleague had, with his site being hacked, I found the use of an unsecure server to be disturbing.
I then called the site’s contact number. It immediately went to a voice recording that sounded more like an old style home answering machine (in my opinion) than a voicemail system. The recording simply identified itself as the LexisNexis sales department, asked me to leave my name and number, and that I would get a call back. Given that Lexis is a large company, the fact that there was no one answering the phone (I called a few different times over the course of about ninety minutes) was alarming. My telephone message to the company has not been returned.
The website also included a widget where I could put in my zip code to be connected to a sales representative. Given that it asked for my zip code, I would have assumed it would connect me to someone in that my personal region. When I entered my information (I am on the west coast) I was given contact information for a sales rep in New Jersey, which is about 2,500 miles away from my location. I’m really not sure what the point of giving my zip code was besides making my experience a little more frustrating. I called the New Jersey sales rep and the call also went straight to a voice recording that was similar to the one I described above. Again, none of my messages have been returned.
In addition to speaking with a former Lexis customer, and reaching out to the company, I conducted a review of six different sites that the company features in its “portfolio” section. I used sites from varying parts of the country to get a good sample base.
Evaluating LexisNexis as a website platform for law firms
As with my other posts in this series, I’m evaluating Lexis in the areas of cost, SEO potential, ease of use, and how well the company seems to be keeping up with the changing web environment.
Evaluating the cost of LexisNexis’ website design services
As I discussed above, getting a hold of someone at Lexis to discuss pricing appears to be no easy feat. The colleague I spoke with informed me that he paid the company just south of $3,000 per month for his website. This is roughly four times what the starting packages are for our attorney website and design services. Strike one against LexisNexis goes in the area of cost
Evaluating the SEO potential of LexisNexis websites
Again, I ran a series of tests on sites that the company showcases. If you are starting a new site, then I wouldn’t expect a LexisNexis product to perform well in search.
All of the sites I looked at had extremely low loading scores as measured by Google’s page speed analyzer. When I say low I mean that the scores were lower than possibly any site I’ve ever seen that was professionally built. Technical errors even included basic things such as properly compressing certain file types. Site speed falls on the developer and this weighs heavily against Lexis.
I also found a number of other problems which will hurt Lexis in search. These problems ran the SEO spectrum and included things such as poorly formatted Meta descriptions, incorrectly formatted page titles, and incorrect use of <H> tags. Combine these with the errors above and the problems were alarming.
I ran a series of Google searches relevant to each of the sites I tested. Two of the six sites did show up for a few different search terms (but not for others). It has to be noted, however, that these two web domains were over ten years old; the fact that these sites came up in search, in my opinion, had more to do with the age of the site than the site itself. The newer websites I looked at did not rank on the first three pages for any of the search terms I used. Patience is a virtue. While I consider myself a virtuous person, I wouldn’t be willing to wait ten years for my website to show a financial return.
Evaluating the ease of use of a LexisNexis web product
Given that Lexis is a professional development company, and not a do-it-yourself option, I evaluate ease of use by looking at how painless it is to call the company, get a site up and running, and by how pain free the process is thereafter. My experience in trying to reach the company, combined with my colleague’s customer service experience that is described above, settles this factor pretty conclusively.
LexisNexis websites and the changing web environment
Lexis is not a good option for the modern web. The sites I looked at were not responsive in nature and, when viewed on my Android phone, rendered in their desktop state. In other words, these sites are not optimized for a mobile device in any way, shape, or form. Given that there are a number of new form factors from which people are viewing websites, the fact that Lexis has yet to deal with the rise of smart phones is disturbing.
My conclusions as to whether attorneys should use LexisNexis for their websites
Based on the review above I think you can guess what my determination is on this one. No offense to the people at Lexis, but attorneys should absolutely not consider this option in my opinion.
11/26/14 update – Lexis has laid off hundreds of workers believed to be related to the website services division discussed above. On November 26th, 2014 I checked the company’s website and it did still claim to be offering these services to attorneys. I called the number listed on the website, (866) 925-8549, and the number had been disconnected. If you are currently using Lexis for your firm’s website needs then I would suggest you find another option immediately.