If you’re large firm looking to start a blog or a solo just starting out and need a website, use the WordPress platform.
Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with solos, small firm lawyers, and marketers at large firms about establishing and growing their presence online with a solid website and useful blog. Many don’t get their ideas off the drafting table because it seems overwhelming or too costly. But it needn’t be. Just use WordPress.
When I left law firm life after 12 years as a library director to start a CLE consultancy, I set out on a journey to figure out what platform I should use. Even back in 2008, I knew I needed to blog to get the word out, establish authority, and build relationships. But I also needed a website – my calling card on the web.
I learned some rudimentary HTML and CSS and cobbled together a Blogger blog/website. I established a following but quickly became disenchanted with the platform’s limitations and looked for other options. I needed a content management system (more on that later) that didn’t require me to code in order to change the look and feel of a site or to add content.
I also needed a platform with a strong user base that wouldn’t disappear the next day. I tried Joomla and Drupal, fantastic content management systems, but way too complicated. I also looked at Wix which was just a couple of years old at the time, and Squarespace which was a bit more mature. Both are terrific platforms with stunning visuals but seemed more suited for creatives. I needed something simple, robust, and built ready-to-go. I always kept coming back to WordPress. Apparently so do others as WordPress now powers more than 25 percent of all sites on the web.
Advantages of WordPress
Content management system as website – I alluded to content management systems (CMS) earlier. You’ll hear this a lot when people talk about WordPress. It’s a way to manage your website content without hiring someone to hard code it every time you want to add or change something.
WordPress provides a dashboard that allows you to easily organize and publish your content. You can quickly add or edit a page on your website or publish a new blog post. You can also add a video or resize an image with a couple of clicks.
Optimized platform – Search engines love WordPress. It’s set up and optimized right out of the box with high quality code, easy indexing, tags, categories, and a commenting system. Author, date, and other fields for blogging are built in. Alt text for images can be easily added. Just open the dashboard, click on “add new post” or “add new page” and start typing.
Scalable – WordPress can handle one page or thousands without affecting performance. It can accommodate a solo attorney, office manager or a team of marketers handling a firm’s sprawling site. Users can be assigned different levels of access and editing rights.
Themes – Don’t like the look of your current site? Choose from thousands of free and premium themes and test drive before you publish. You may have to do some light shifting around, but for the most part, all of your content will fit into the buckets the new theme provides. If you have lots of pages on your site and want a significant redesign, you may need to get some design help from a WordPress expert.
Plugins – You can find over 45,000 free plugins developed by WordPress experts to extend the functionality of your blog or website. Want to create a carousel for your top blog posts or website pages? There’s a plugin for that. Need some basic SEO for your content but don’t know where to start? Check out Yoast SEO. Need a contact form? Add Contact Form 7 with over a million installs. You get the idea. Whatever functionality you want, chances are, there’s a plugin for it.
Security – WordPress rolls out regular software updates that you can set to auto-install to address security vulnerabilities and other issues as they pop up. You’ll also need to do your part to lock down your site, like using strong passwords, enabling 2-factor authentication, vetting and updating plugins, and keeping a tight lid on users.
Vibrant community – The WordPress community offers amazing support and documentation for beginners and veterans alike. They even go camping. If you’re bitten by the PHP bug, check out WordCamps from Ann Arbor to Bangkok. I’ve been to a couple and it’s a tight, wonderfully nerdy community. The huge upside of this is, if you need some structure and design help, a WordPress expert for hire is not difficult to find.
I needed to do two things when I had my business: work on current client projects and do some marketing to get new ones. As enchanting as learning some rudimentary code was, it was not my primary objective. Same with attorneys, firms, and marketers looking to up their website and blogging game. Client work comes first and you don’t want to compromise that by fiddling with website issues. As you grow you’ll probably need some content, social, and SEO help, but to get started, nothing beats the powerful, easy-to-use WordPress platform.
Oh, did I mention WordPress.org is open source and freely available? Simply use the one-click WordPress install your web host provides and you’re ready to go.