Website – Can You Do It Yourselfer?

Of course you can – but that doesn’t always mean you should!

First the tech.  If you are techie enough to register a domain, you are techie enough to install and play with WordPress.  If you need help, there are a ton of videos on YouTube that give step by step instructions on installing WordPress from Cpanel on any domain.  Here’s one:

While I recommend GoDaddy for registering domains, I do not recommend them for hosting.  I prefer hosts that give you access to your site through Cpanel.  GoDaddy does not support CPanel.

I send my tech savvy contacts to Host Gator.  My main site, www.legaltypist.com is hosted with a North Carolina company called Venue Communications – for those not so techy, Scott and his team can build you a very nice website at a reasonable rate.

How to get a website loaded and determining how you will manipulate the content is only one part of a successful website – you still need words, pictures and and fresh on going content which is sprinkled with key words and targeted phrases.  Let’s face it, if no one is visiting your site, what’s the point?!

If you’d rather have someone else handle design – and you do the words, a great option for attorneys is Next Client.  They handle the look of your site through custom templates and provide a web based account for you to manipulate the content.  Their sites also come with hosting and e-mail.  Perfect option for small law firms.

Logo design is another important aspect of a successful website.  If you need a logo, I recommend http://www.thelogocompany.com.  The reason I recommend them (besides the beautiful job they did colorizing my lady logo), is they provide your artwork in file formats consistent for both on and off line printing.

So you can have your local printer use your logo for printed promotional materials vs. just using your logo just on line. At less than $200 to create your logo, as well as the stationary you need when in business, The Logo Company is truly quite a bargain.

Next you have to decide what you want your website to do.  Every good website has an audience; and speaks to that audience.  Who are you trying to attract?  Potential clients, other attorneys, the media… make your site for that particular audience, not you.

Here’s a few questions you need to answer:

  1. What are your objectives? So when you have visitors, what do you want them to do?
  2. Who is your target market?
  3. What kind of impression do you wish to make?
  4. What information do you need to impart?
  5. Why should your target audience believe you know what you are talking about?
  6. What tone do you wish to convey?
  7. How do you want to handle navigation through your site?
  8. What mechanisms are you going to use to attract visitors?
  9. What is your budget?
  10. How fast do you want your site to go live?

One item of note: be careful how you collect information on line. There are auto-bots who harvest e-mails address right off of websites.  There are others that automatically fill in forms.  That’s why on many sites you have to enter one or two funky looking words into a separate field (known as a captcha form) before you can select submit.  That form stops the bots!

Finally, be cognizant of any limitations a legal website may have in terms of a privacy policy and solicitation.  Attorneys don’t want to run afoul of any legal specific restrictions on advertising or otherwise.

If you’d like more information on installing WordPress – join me on Wednesday, January 20th as I go over this and other considerations in Blogging 101 for Lawyers and Other Professionals.  It’s at Noon ET and free. 🙂