In the old days of the web, before blogs and social networks were all the rage, making a personal homepage through a platform like Geocities or Tripod was all the rage. Now, Geocities has vanished (but you can still relive its glory days at https://neocities.org) but newer services have popped up which let you create a stylish small site. Why would you want to do this?
You can use one of these mini home pages for any purpose, since the layout formats are more flexible. You can use one as a nice front page to link to a Pinterest-like content page and/or a business card profile site you made in the last lessons. You can use one for a special demographic or audience, like a foreign language brochure describing your main site, or a description of a presentation that you are giving at a conference. You can hand out the unique web site address knowing that it won’t affect the content on your main site.
A simple way to see the concept at work is to drop by https://www.zoho.com/sites/. You choose a theme, drag and drop some elements, and start writing as little or as much as you want. It’s much like some of the business card sites, only now you want to go into more detail about your firm and practice, rather than just presenting a biography of yourself. Be sure to look for a contact form on any of these sites. Although you don’t need feedback about your biography, you do want potential clients to be able to easily respond to information about your law firm.
If you look at the popular http://www.weebly.com service, you can see an expansive version of this concept. There are lots of splashy themes to pick from and your content is formatted for mobile phones. Many of these sites will offer analytics, so that you can see statistics about the visitors to your site. Keep in mind that if you want to, you can make one of these sites as simple as one of the business card sites. See how a lawyer at http://www.ktbattle.com has done just that, taking advantage of Weebly’s contact form feature, but otherwise making a site to be just a simple calling card. Compare with this lawyer at http://mdsnell.weebly.com to see a more traditional law firm site made with Weebly.
The service at http://imcreator.com will even offer a few themes specially for law firms at their themes page at http://app.imcreator.com/new. Like the other services, you drag and drop elements (even picture slideshows), and then customize them for whatever features you want on your site. And if some point in the future you learn to write website code, this service will let you even add your own custom code to the site – see http://imcreator.com/create-a-website/html-embed-code.
The folks at https://populr.me/ actually take great pride in limiting users to web sites that are limited to one page. These are high-flying web flyers, though, in that the themes look very professional and the sites here can contain Google charts, calendars, and presentations embedded on the page itself. The free plan allows you to assign 3 custom domain names to your one-pagers, a feature that normally the other services charge for. At http://tips.populr.me/seo-best-practices they even offer basic tips on making your pages rank higher in Google. For that elusive goal of creating a great marketing tool to complement a more comprehensive web presence, Populr understands its role well.
For a good while, http://www.wix.com was looked at warily by techies, because the free websites it offered were made in the Flash animation format, which does not allow for easy search engine optimization. However, now there are many templates available as traditional web pages, including a law firm template you can find at http://www.wix.com/website/templates/html/business/1. Wix also has an amazing amount of completely free plugin widgets that you can browse at http://www.wix.com/app-market/free. For marketing purposes, a very impressive free widget is a pop-up feedback form that visitors can use to actually schedule appointments with the attorney, found at http://www.wix.com/app-market/active-contact-form/overview.
You’re now pretty familiar with several ways of laying down basic small web sites, and some ways to fill them with links to great outside content. You’ve come across many opportunities on these services to add in many forms of your own content that you haven’t even created yet, from videos to logos. We’ll be finding ways soon enough to make some good multimedia that these sites really want you to use. But you’ve probably heard that you should be doing some blogging as part of your overall online marketing campaign. So next let’s find some tools for bringing out the wordsmith in you. You should get familiar with blogging tools because your main web presence will most likely be based on the WordPress framework, which started out its history as, you guessed it, a blogging tool.