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Best way to start up a website these days???

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Need a website for my legal practise. Something tasteful and professional.

What's the best way of getting one set up for under $1000? I see all these "free templates" on Google; is that the way to go? Or should are there programs out there simple enough for non-coders like me to use?

Website doesn't need to be flashy - pun intended. Here's an example of one I like: http://www.roylelaw.ca/index-1.php

My first instinct was to pay someone to do it....

Thoughts?
post #2 of 16

You should check out squarespace.com

 

I've never used them, but I've seen some great sites made from their service. And their prices are extremely cheap compared to your budget.

 

You could hire a college kid or a young designer to give you a "custom" website for a few hundred, but he will probably just end up using a template anyways.

post #3 of 16
Try wix.com
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherman90 View Post

Need a website for my legal practise. Something tasteful and professional.
What's the best way of getting one set up for under $1000?
Since I've always understood that networking with my colleagues in the legal community is an important part of being a knowledgeable and effective lawyer, the way I'd handle this would probably be to see which of my colleagues had websites similar to what I'd like. Then I'd get in touch with them, explain what I wanted for my own practice, and seek to benefit from their experience. Find out how they set up their site, whom they hired, what they wish they'd done differently, what pitfalls I should be careful to avoid, etc.

In one "lawyers only" online forum in which I sometimes participate, while the vast majority of the conversation has to do with relatively technical business law matters, it's not unheard of for someone to seek out advice on things like the best time management software for their firm's purposes, whether anyone has office space for rent, when it's appropriate to engage in teleconferencing instead of traveling to a common location for a meeting, etc. Your question about setting up a website would not be out of line.

My state's Bar association also has a solo practitioner section, and another for those just beginning their practice of law. I would imagine the website question is common enough in those groups. While you haven't mentioned where you practice, I wouldn't be surprised if your local/regional/national Bar association (or equivalent) had something similar. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if most Bar Association Journals haven't run "Setting up a Website" articles. Some of them even have regular Tech columns.

If it's likely that your firm's website will have a non-trivial impact on your ability to attract clients, and consequently on your financial bottom line, it would probably be wise to devote a little time to doing the job right. Even if you wind up hiring a college kid to put together something from an existing template, I would think it would make sense for you to learn enough about the matter that you can explain to the college kid just what things you'd like done a little differently from the "default," so as to obtain the best possible website for your needs. You may also wish to draw up a contract with the college kid for ongoing website maintenance and support. And in order to do this, you might want to learn, perhaps from discussion with your colleagues who've been there and done that, what sort of maintenance and support needs you should anticipate will be required.

Well, just some thoughts.
--
Michael
post #5 of 16

Try odesk.com or freelancer.com

 

post an ad and you'll have a dozen people willing to do wonders for $1k or less

post #6 of 16
If you aren't trying to do ecommerce or anything crazy.

Find a Joomla Template. Somewhere between $20 and $100. You can browse 100's by going to a site like ....

http://www.bestofjoomla.com

Sign up with Hostgator. 9.99 a month
Install Joomla. You can do it as Hostgator has autoinstaller.
Install Template. You can do it.

Add content, you can do it or get someone off elancer for cheap.
Even if you hire someone to do the install etc, Professional site less than $500.
post #7 of 16
Just so you know the site you posted looks nice but the SEO is a mess.

Good SEO and a lead generation field above-the-fold are definitely more important then visual attractiveness.
post #8 of 16

Well, it depends with regards to the SEO issue. If you are looking for it to be a reference for your pre-existing legal work and clients, SEO will be less important. You'll have people spreading your site anyway.

 

Presentation does count for a lot in any purpose. I'd recommend starting up with the Wordpress-based web company Elegant Themes if you want to do it yourself with little help and coding experience. They have a plugin called Elegant Theme Builder which is a godsend. I can't really tell you how much time it saves unless you try it for yourself and perhaps have a friend who is more knowledgeable in CMS systems to explain your way around. But it really is point and click building on the back-end for a very elegant front-end and they have many themes. The year long membership to download all themes and plugin is 89 dollars.

 

I myself do copywriting for clients and I would offer my services but legal work is not my niche. Just as a word of advice, don't go to odesk and hire peanut writers. You get what you pay for and it'll just cos you more expenses in wasted time.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
I took a quick gander at the top hits for web developers on ODesk. Wasn't impressed, and don't have the patience to screen so many potentials.

I really like the look and feel of the squarespace concept, but it seems very design heavy. That's not necessarily an issue, but the service isn't the cheapest ($8/month).

Elegant themes also seems attractive. Looks like you pay $39 for access to all of their themes.

...

So, if I'm getting the language right, right now I have a registered domain but no host. Some hosts seem to have wordpress built into them (like bluehost, which I gather is reputable). Is the idea to pay $39 to someone like Elegant Themes, and then import the theme into Bluehost which is Wordpress compatible, and then drag/drop/develop? If so, what's the difference between that route and Squarespace. Is Squarespace also a hosting service, so that I get both hosting/themes in one place?

Thanks so much everyone...and especially Michael, for the very sound advice.
post #10 of 16
I set up a website for a guy I was interning for and used A Small Orange as the host.

I would imagine his needs as an agent were pretty similar to yours as a small law firm--a basically static page. Nothing interactive, just things like contact information, a list of the firms he represented, etc.

For that, they were a great host--I think we went with the $5/month plan but honestly the $35/yr plan would have worked. Never noticed any uptime problems and they were always fast and friendly with support requests.
I can't speak to the quality of their email service (although they do provide it)--I set him up with a dedicated email provider (tuffmail) that carries a monthly fee but he had a ton of email volume and it was important that it be fast and reliable so we decided to use a specialist firm.

For designing a basic site, these people have the right suggestions. Hiring someone will be easier than figuring it out yourself and pretty much anyone with web design skills will be able to make the kind of site you want.

How much do you plan to change the site? Do you want it to have some blog/content management software built in so that you can make postings without having to edit the actual code of the site? In that situation you have to make sure you keep it secure so your website doesn't start serving up viagra ads and malware. The key there is to keep the underlying software up to date. Whether it is Joomla or Drupal or whatever, it has to be a current version so either your hosting company has to provide this service or you will have to pay someone to maintain the site. If your site is going to have much of this kind of stuff, I would look for an established firm to design it instead of a freelancer--they should be accustomed to doing routine update work while a freelancer might build you a great website but you can't count on them to be around forever.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherman90 View Post

I took a quick gander at the top hits for web developers on ODesk. Wasn't impressed, and don't have the patience to screen so many potentials.
I really like the look and feel of the squarespace concept, but it seems very design heavy. That's not necessarily an issue, but the service isn't the cheapest ($8/month).
Elegant themes also seems attractive. Looks like you pay $39 for access to all of their themes.
...
So, if I'm getting the language right, right now I have a registered domain but no host. Some hosts seem to have wordpress built into them (like bluehost, which I gather is reputable). Is the idea to pay $39 to someone like Elegant Themes, and then import the theme into Bluehost which is Wordpress compatible, and then drag/drop/develop? If so, what's the difference between that route and Squarespace. Is Squarespace also a hosting service, so that I get both hosting/themes in one place?
Thanks so much everyone...and especially Michael, for the very sound advice.


Squarespace does everything in one package, yes. They have hosting, click-and-drag development and they even handle your domain registrations (like most hosting providers do but you've already registered yours yourself).

 

I actually met the guys running Squarespace in NY and they're decent people, but SS is known to be very slow to react on the development side to people's needs. Having said that, a private equity boutique firm i used to work for were the ones that introduced me to them and their website took 5 minutes to setup for something that looks professional enough.

 

Personally I go with dreamhost (unlimited broadband and free domain registration for the first domain + unlimited domains) then do the one-click Wordpress install and drag-and-drop install the themes, as you said.

 

I wouldn't blame you with going with Squarespace as they do simplify a lot of things. Their limitations will only become apparent months later when you want to customise something so it would only be distracting for me to go through the pros and cons.

post #12 of 16
I am a (budding) website developer. I have no experience with Squarespace, so can't speak to that. I would recommend Wordpress. It is a capable platform and very easy to use. As a non-coder, you can definitely do it but it may take up a good chunk of time (I would say at least 10-20 hours if you're looking to make a simple, content rich site with nothing more complicated than an e-mail contact form). A great feature about wordpress is that it is very well documented. If you have a question, the answer is probably easily googled. (Although if you pick an obscure custom theme you will find less support.)

Here are the steps:
1. Register your domain/get a host (you said you already registered, so you will just transfer your domain to your new host. I would recommend godaddy. It's very cheap & reliable).
2. Install Wordpress. Here are the instructions: http://support.godaddy.com/help/article/834/installing-wordpress-on-your-hosting-account
3. Pick out a theme. I think themeforest.com is a good resource
4. You can then build your website through wordpress, which has a pretty easy to use content-management system (CMS).
5. I would take the time to install google analytics. Just google for instructions, how to install google analaytics. You may never look at it, but it may come in handy in the future .It will record information about all the visitors to your website.

These are the DIY instructions. You could probably do this in, like I said, 10-20 hours. You may enjoy it. You may hate it. If you don't want to do it yourself, perhaps you have a young assistant/secretary/paralegal at your office that may be able to work on it during down time. If that is the case, you would just need to focus on writing the content for the site. I hope this is helpful.
post #13 of 16
I didn't want to stat another thread, so I wanted to give it a try in here:

Does anyone know of a good web design firm? I love what I see with the WordPress capabilities, but I would like to find a firm who can use it and truly implement good SEO. I don't mind spending up to $8-9k on a good site, I just want something that looks good (i.e. large text is not the title banner) and has damn good SEO.

If anyone can point out a good company or even a good webforum with some codejunkies, I'd appreciate it.
post #14 of 16

Sorry, I don't know many web design firms. Most of the ones I do know, I wouldn't recommend either. With that budget, you're probably looking at a local shop. Although if your site is content only, i.e. not an ecommerce site, that should be a lot cheaper.

 

But what I want to say is that you should be careful about hiring a web design firm and paying up for "good SEO." SEO can be a meaningless buzzword or snake oil. If you're getting a customized Wordpress site, the most SEO that I imagine anyone will do is install a couple of extra plugins. Wordpress is in general very SEO friendly. The main way you're going to get traction in search engines is by generating good content, which will be up to you, the site owner, and by getting people to link to your site (having the lowest prices, hot deals, good writing, etc.).

 

So my point is, when choosing a web design firm I would base my decision on how good their web design is. Are the sites in their portfolio good? Are they beautiful? Easy to use? I would scrutinize the sites in their portfolio very carefully.

 

I hope this helps.

post #15 of 16

Wordpress is a good place to create your own website and is not complicated to use.

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