Picking a Platform
Before you start to build anything, you need to decide where you are building it and what you are building it on. For me, I almost always build websites using WordPress, one of the world’s leading web content management systems. It’s powerful, easy to use, and free. Yes, free.
Before I say more about WordPress, there are certainly other platforms out there. Tumblr is a very easy to use and quick (almost instant) to install service. And I’ve worked with clients who previously had a site on SquareSpace. And still other attorneys use Yahoo Sites. Finally, website developers may use other web products or content management systems, such as Joomla, Drupal, or even straightforward programming language like HTML (though it’s not so straightforward to understand). Whatever you pick, ask one question: is it easy to change and update later, when it’s all done and looking pretty? If it’s not easy to change without involving a developer, I’d shy away from it, at least from a DIY perspective.
Because it’s free, powerful, and extremely easy to use and change, I don’t recommend anything other than WordPress. And I’m talking about the “self-hosted” version of WordPress, which is found at WordPress.org. Self-hosted means you host WordPress on your own server, what I loosely call your hosting account. I’m not talking about WordPress.com, which is an option. It’s just not the best option.
Lawyerist already has some great resources on WordPress, all aimed generally at lawyers. For my money, though, the best resource around is the web. Because WordPress is free and powers about twelve percent of the world’s websites, there is a vast amount of free knowledge available on the web. Start with Digging Into WordPress, a fantastic website and book that breaks down every aspect of WordPress (and, yes, it is a bit on the geeky side, so technophobes beware). Or try WordPress.org and its forums, which are a great resource for understanding, installing, and modifying a WordPress site.