Website 101: Build and Rebuild


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Slides from my presentation of "Website 101: Build and Rebuild" with Courtney Ward- Reichard at the ABA Techshow, April 2011.

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Website 101: Build and Rebuild

  1. 1. Session Title Presenters {Name} {Name} April 11-13, 2011 PRESENTED BY THE Website 101: Build and Rebuild Presenters Courtney Ward-Reichard Steve Matthews
  2. 2. Overview: Website Build & Rebuild <ul><li>Domain Name Decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Website Hosting </li></ul><ul><li>Content Management Decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Planning and Outsourcing </li></ul><ul><li>Design Best Practices </li></ul><ul><li>Content Best Practices </li></ul>
  3. 3. Domain Names <ul><li>How to choose your URL? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shorter names are easier to remember </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Less Named Partners – 1 or 2 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Shorter Acronyms </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword-driven domains </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.COM domains continue to dominate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When clients guess: they guess .com </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lock down .NET & .ORG </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Keyword Domains <ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>Pros: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong factor in Google Searches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good match for firms that limit their practice areas ex. boutiques, solo and small firms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Well suited to blogs and microsites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not a great fit for mid-sized and larger firms – at least not as its principal website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to acquire from third party? $$$ </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. The Firm Name Changes: Must your domain? <ul><li>Be proactive: plan for this day! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less Partners represented in the firm domain reduces the risk. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Avoid changing domains if at all possible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Domain Age is a weighted factor in Google Searches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>301 Redirects (mapping from old domain to new domain) will help, but is an inexact science. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. How to change domains properly <ul><li>Use Google Webmaster Tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Register both the old and new domains </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use the Domain redirect feature </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Old domain: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use an .htaccess file to map ALL pages to their location on the new domain (301 Permanent Redirects). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Redirect this domain for at least one year. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New domain: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Register a site map file with GW Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Boost the temporary crawl rate in GW Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Goal: get these pages indexed fast! </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Website Hosting <ul><li>Hosting companies rent you an online home. </li></ul><ul><li>Hosting industry is very competitive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most people who writes about website hosting have a financial stake. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask friends or colleagues for referrals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Check out support forums for ‘clues’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most law firms host on shared hosting plans </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Means sharing that computer with up to 200 different websites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moving web hosts is not a big hurdle. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Factors for Choosing a Host <ul><li>Emergency Support </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who picks up the phone when your website is down? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Multiple domain support </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can you host more than one website for the same price? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bandwidth or Storage Restrictions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Any restrictions in traffic and data storage? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>C-panel Access </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Makes support far less technical. Great for DIY websites! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Data backups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How often? How many locations? </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Content Management Systems (CMS) <ul><li>Required Building Block </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CMS Separates Content from Design – website development becomes modular: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content is isolated in its own database; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Design is isolated into a small set of standardized templates; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>New functionality is isolated in module plugins. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Editing or creating new content is instant </li></ul><ul><li>Easier to move, back-up, and re-design your website in the future! </li></ul>
  10. 10. Comparing CMS Products <ul><li>Big 3: Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Percentage of installed CMS products: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wordpress (55%) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Joomla (11%) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Drupal (6.1%) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>All three are primarily built for Linux (a.k.a. Lamp Stack) </li></ul><ul><li>All have a large developer support community </li></ul>
  11. 11. CMS Template Development <ul><li>Theme Templates - Build or Buy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost effective tactic for DIY web design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each CMS has a community of designers producing free and low cost templates. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experiment with free, but pay for premium! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Premium themes average $75-150. Great value. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Find the CMS “Theme Gardens” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wordpress: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drupal: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Joomla: </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. CMS & Website Security <ul><li>Open Source CMS software are a starting framework: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drupal: Limit the ability to create new accounts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Joomla: Reduce access privileges for users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WordPress: Limit login attempts; relocate the login page </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use complex passwords </li></ul><ul><li>Deny Search Engines from indexing the Administration pages (robots.txt) </li></ul><ul><li>Register your website with Google Webmaster Tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Warns of any kind of malware problems </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Website Content <ul><li>Three Goals: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to Navigate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expresses Who You Are </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attracts Clients You Seek </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. The Creative Brief <ul><li>Strategic plan </li></ul><ul><li>All levels of personnel </li></ul><ul><li>All stages of the project </li></ul>
  15. 15. Who is Your Audience? <ul><li>Solo practitioner? </li></ul><ul><li>Plaintiff or defense? </li></ul><ul><li>Criminal or civil? </li></ul><ul><li>Specialized or general? </li></ul><ul><li>Individual or corporate? </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Brand <ul><li>Distinguish yourself…. </li></ul><ul><li>…but remain true to who you are. </li></ul><ul><li>BRANDS ARE NOT ASPIRATIONAL! </li></ul>
  17. 17. Working with Vendors <ul><li>Determine appropriate level </li></ul><ul><li>Clarify: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>scope of work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>responsibility to provide information for design and content </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Best Practices: Size <ul><li>Need to design for small and large monitors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Design core fits small screen PLUS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Background space strategy </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Best Practices: URLs <ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>search engines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>keep navigation simple </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use a re-write module: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  20. 20. Best Practices: Photos <ul><li>Uniform </li></ul><ul><li>Professional </li></ul><ul><li>Approachable </li></ul><ul><li>Recent! </li></ul>
  21. 21. More Best Practices <ul><li>Color contrast </li></ul><ul><li>Law firm logo </li></ul><ul><li>White space: more is better </li></ul><ul><li>Text navigation </li></ul>
  22. 22. Best Practices: Browsers <ul><li>Expansion of Browsers </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile and Tablet Use </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-browser Testing </li></ul>
  23. 23. What to Avoid <ul><li>Flash Animations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Incompatible with iPhone and iPad </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invisible to search engines </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. What to Avoid <ul><li>Background Audio </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s annoying! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increases “bounce” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the user want this? </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. What to Avoid <ul><li>Video Overlays </li></ul><ul><ul><li>uninteresting when repeated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>annoying </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. What to Avoid <ul><li>Pop-Up Windows </li></ul>
  27. 27. What to Avoid <ul><li>Scaled Images </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Re-size in vector graphics applications, not the browser </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preserves crisp images </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Content! <ul><li>Last stage of the design process – and the one that takes the longest </li></ul><ul><li>Careful planning and adequate resources are critical! </li></ul>
  29. 29. Contact Information <ul><li>Call to action – who is the best person to answer my questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Include email addresses </li></ul><ul><li>Include v-card link </li></ul><ul><li>Include social media and blog links </li></ul>
  30. 30. Indexes: Homepage or Secondary? <ul><li>Challenge for larger websites </li></ul><ul><li>What can be moved? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice-based publications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice sub-groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>List of offices </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Goal: flat architecture and avoiding over-classification </li></ul>
  31. 31. Keep it Fresh! <ul><li>Dynamic content is critical… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>search engines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>return visitors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>…and you need a plan: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>latest publications and firm news </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>blog posts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter stream </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Questions? <ul><li>Steve Matthews [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Courtney Ward-Reichard cward @ nilanjohnson .com </li></ul>
  33. 33. Save the Date ABA TECHSHOW 2012 March 29-31, 2012 Hilton Chicago