T. Jason Smith 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Websites for Lawyers In 1993, there were less than 700 websites on the Web.1 Today, the estimated number of websites on the Internet is 644 million.2 According to Nielsen Online, there are 2.3 billion Internet users worldwide and every day they author enough blog posts to fill Time magazine for 770 years.3 Adding to this is the fact that more iPhones are sold than people are born on the planet each day,4 making it easier to access and publish information globally in an instant. So the question is: Why don’t you or your organization have a website yet? Merging onto this information superhighway may seem like a daunting task for the non-techie. Have no fear — there are tools available to help you. One of those is WordPress, a free and open source blogging tool and dynamic content management system (CMS). WHY WORDPRESS? Simplicity is at the forefront of Word- Press’ appeal. If you can send an email, use Microsoft Word, or set up a Facebook account, then you can use Word- Press. The interface is intuitive and you don’t have to worry about crashing the site through routine updates. This enables you to develop and maintain your website without waiting for and paying programmers to do the work for you, saving you time and money. But simplicity isn’t the only reason WordPress is used by almost 150,000 of the world’s top websites.5 With such a large client base, the WordPress community has become a great source of troubleshooting and website enhancements for the novice webmaster, which means when you get into a jam, you’re not the only one who can fix the issue. Additionally, WordPress has built an infrastructure to support its large community, providing its members stability, reliability, and redundancy. WordPress also makes it easier to optimize your site for search engines with built-in search engine optimization (SEO). That means your site is more likely to land on the first page of Google results, which means people are more likely to find you. But above all the other reasons that have made WordPress so popular, the most important is that it is free. BUILDING A WORDPRESS WEBSITE IN FIVE EASY STEPS Step One Visit wordpress.com and click the “Get Started Here”’ button to register for a WordPress account. You will need a valid email address to sign up for a new account. Step Two Complete the form (desired site address, username, password, language) and click “Create Blog” button for the free version. Keep in mind, your blog address will initially be a wordpress.com subdomain (e.g. “yourwebsite.wordpress.com”). WordPress gives you options to purchase a top-level (e.g. “yourwebsite.com”) domain from this setup page so you don’t have to set it up separately. However, if you choose to use or create your own toplevel domain, you can simply forward it to your WordPress domain, so users can still reach your site without having to type in the longer WordPress subdomain URL. You also have the option to instantly upgrade to additional Word- Press features at this point if you want more than what the basic free site offers. Step Three Check your email and click “Activate Blog” button. Step Four Upon logging into your account for the first time, you’ll want to activate a theme. WordPress has many free themes to choose from or you can purchase an “upgraded” theme. Many of the themes have been developed from within the WordPress user community. Once you’ve selected a theme, your site is activated and ready to customize and use. Step Five Personalize your site. WordPress makes it as easy as dragging and dropping images and completing form fields to change the whole look and feel of your site. At this point, there is a pane on the left side of the screen with options to allow you to make the basic changes to your site like the title, tagline, header image, and color scheme. The pane is broken into five expandable and collapsible sections. The first section allows you to change the title and tagline that appears at the top of your website by simply typing the information into the appropriate fields. You also have the option of hiding the title and tagline text (in case you have a title and tagline within a graphic you’ll use instead). The next section is “Colors.” You can simply select a color and shade by clicking on the appropriate place in the color block for both the site’s background color and the page title. This is followed by two image sections; one for the header and one for the background (you can choose to go without a background image as well). Adding an image is done by opening Windows Explorer on your computer, navigating to the image file, and dragging it on the WordPress pane. If you prefer, you can also click the “upload” link and navigate and upload the traditional way. Finally, you can choose whether your page will have a “static” front page (e.g., a welcome page that always loads when visitors first arrive at your site) or a “dynamic” front page, wherein your blog posts will show up in chronological order with the latest post on top. When you’re done personalizing, it’s time to “Save and Publish” the site. You are now ready to begin posting to your new site! INTEGRATING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA WordPress has some plug-ins that allow easy integration with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. Enabling the plug-ins allow you to post in one place and have that post show up in your other online accounts. Be careful, however, because a full blog post may not look nice and clean when translated into a shorter Facebook status update or when crammed into a 140-character Tweet. NOTES 1. http://www.mit.edu/people/mkgray/growth/. 2. http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-03-08/tech/31135231_1_websites-domain-internet. 3. http://www.dazeinfo.com/2012/03/13/internetfacts-figures-and-statistics-in-just-24-hoursinfographic/. 4. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57365767-1/apple-makes-more-iphones-than-humansmake-babies/. 5. http://wpstatistics.com/. T. JASON SMITH is director of legal management consulting for Duff & Phelps, L.L.C. in Houston, where he focuses on technology strategy and implementations for corporate legal departments. He is chair of the State Bar Computer & Technology Section and is on the Website Committee for the State Bar Corporate Counsel Section. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. TECHGEAR The WPD Wizard smartphone app ($19.99) by Solvusoft Corporation allows you to open WordPerfect files on your Mac while preserving most of the original document formatting. Its drag-and-drop interface makes converting files quick and easy. TECHAPPS CADE BROWNING is a board certified personal injury attorney with the Browning Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Abilene. He litigates civil litigation cases throughout West Texas and blogs at the West Texas Personal Injury Blog (http://browningfirm.com/lawyer/blog/Browning_Law_Firm_Personal_Injury_ Blog.htm). Dropbox With my Dropbox app, I am able to access my cases on the road and they are synched via the cloud to my staff’s computers, my office computer, my iPad, iPhone, and laptop. UPAD Lite The hardest thing for me going paperless has been trying to give up the proverbial yellow pad. Through a handwriting app such as UPAD, you not only can handwrite notes but also annotate a PDF or photo. The finished product can be emailed as a PDF or saved to Dropbox. CloudOn CloudOn is a free app that takes the place of Apple’s iWork suite. It allows you to create and edit Office documents using your iPad, including Word, Excel, and Power- Point. You can “Open With” directly out of email to CloudOn or synch with Dropbox. Trial Pad In addition to Keynote to present Power- Point, a great trial/deposition presentation app is Trial Pad. Although it is an expensive app ($89.99), I can download the documents from Dropbox that I anticipate using to question a witness. I can also mark up, blow up, create callouts, or redact documents on the fly and show them on a screen or projector.
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