User experience & onboarding
Onboarding for LegalZoom aims to demystify legal services with respect to business formation. Optionality is built-in to the flow with micro-chat questionnaire to help business owners determine the right type of business formation along with options to pick from a set menu with transparent pricing. Add-ons populate throughout the onboarding, but given the transparent pricing up front, it isn't a surprise to any prospective business owner.
Onboarding for Northwest is more cumbersome than other products in the industry. Avoiding the simplified chat flows, ubiquitous of Silicon Valley SaaS, Northwest makes you comb through an exhaustive list of services that at first glance can be intimidating. The plus side of their onboarding is Northwest makes it very easy to open a free account without being charged for a service, so at least you won't be paying any money up front while you figure out exactly the product you need.
LegalZoom's chat flow onboarding brings a whole host of options for the business owner, depending on the personal and professional legal requirements. Northwest does not bring this same intuition to its onboarding, leaving the entrepreneur to wade through a sea of options - if it's your first time dealing with many of these regulatory jargon terms, good luck!
LegalZoom lags behind the rest of the industry when it comes to formation speeds, taking twenty business days for business formation processing. This pales in comparison to Northwest who holds the gold standard of one business day processing, going so far to have formation speeds for certain states of same day.
LegalZoom's twenty business day processing time is in the highest range for formation services. When compared to lawyers in general, this speed might seem swift, and indeed their services are indicative of the 'legaltech' market that reduces the cost of traditionally expensive legal advice. However, their formation speed is not up to scratch when compared to Business Formation-specific services that promise processing in a handful of days.
Northwest's one business day processing time has become the gold-standard for business formation. With state processing times varying, the industry has adopted a mentality of processing applicants as swiftly as possible to help them form businesses quickly. Northwest's standardization of the application flow, while restrictive to unique circumstances, helps them achieve this speed in processing times.
Are they worth the cost?
LegalZoom is geared towards both the SMB and Solopreneur markets, with a strong emphasis on the individual business owner themselves. Their positioning is indicative of trying to be a one-stop-shop for businesses that have legal needs but are fearful of the costly retainers incurred by an in-house counsel or legal contractor. LegalZoom's products look to cover the breadth of what an SMB or Solopreneur business owner would need - not only professionally such as formation, trademarks, and ongoing contracts, but also personal with products for estate planning, family law, and real estate.
Northwest is more focused on established SMB and Bootstrapped Startups given its messaging heavily leans on the Registered Agent angle. This positioning towards an industry term assumes a certain level of knowledge from the prospect, rather than guiding first-time founders or solopreneurs through a flow of starting their business and all the services they may require. In that respect, Northwest is more direct - displaying clearly the service they provide and how they do it well for Businesses.
NanoGlobals editor's rating for LegalZoom reflects its comprehensive nature of legal services for an aspiring business owner. LegalZoom earns points for being more cost-efficient than regular attorney services along with ease of onboarding via chat and helpful introductory flows to their products. Unfortunately, they miss the mark on pricing and processing times when compared to the industry average, outweighing any perceived advantage of being legal experts since, like with all services in this formation niche, their recommendations don't constitute legal advice.
NanoGlobals editor's rating for Northwest reflects its standing as a solid middle of the pack option for business formation. Their lightning fast processing times have become the mark to which other services must match and their pricing is fair compared to the high-end. Points are deducted for their slightly confusing onboarding flow which creates a high propensity to choose non-applicable products. If you know exactly what service you need for your business, Northwest can be a great option but if you're at all unsure, Northwest isn't likely to make it easy to find the product right for you.