My lawyer brother (not my Wall St banker brother) is starting his own practice, and we’ve had a few discussions about technology for the law firm, marketing, building a website, blogging, etc. He came over last week, wanting to set up a website but wanting to do it himself. So I showed him how to look up domain names , since he had some in mind, I showed him a few hosting options and the pros and cons of them. He asked what hosting company I used and I told him: HostGator.
We went through the process of purchasing a domain name, setting up a hosting account and then he wanted to put up a page. He had written a letter, one version which seemed to fit well for the Web but he didn’t know how to get it from Word to his website. HTML is a foreign language; he just wanted to copy/paste and do some tweaking, but he wanted to see the design, not the code.
Most people think of Adobe, specifically Dreamweaver, when it comes to viewing the “design” of a website instead of its code. Dreamweaver is expensive, even without Photoshop and the other Adobe Creative Suite applications. And if HTML is unfamiliar to you, or you are just learning, the expense is unnecessary.
Enter Nvu, an open source Web authoring tool.
It has all the features of Dreamweaver, including a “Design,” “Source” and “Split” view. It has a WYWSYG so you can add bullets, bold, italics and such, just as you do in Word. Insert images, links, tables, forms…you name it. Nvu works on Macs and PCs and yes, the source code is available if you feel like being adventurous.
My brother downloaded it, copied and pasted his letter from Word, made a few changes in “Design” mode. I showed him how to upload the file to his website, and he posted his first page. Of course there is still much to be done. It lacks standard navigation and features typical of websites today, but the point is that a non-technical lawyer can create the beginnings of a Web presence without much effort, and at little cost.
It’s exciting to see a lawyer embrace technology, and find that it is not as scary or as complicated as it seems. And you don’t need expensive software applications to get the job done, either.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the next steps!