Wordpress website suitable for a law firm?
April 10, 2010 10:32 AM   Subscribe

A professionally-designed website suitable for a small law firm created in Wordpress: Is this feasible?

How realistic is my presumption that a beautifully designed website suitable for my law practice could be created (by a pro, not by me) in Wordpress? To what general extent could a web designer customize a Wordpress site to most resemble a website rather than a blog? I've seen a few "clean and professional" Wordpress templates, but all looked kind of low budget and generic, and I'm not looking for D.I.Y. (I don't have a huge budget for this project, but cost is not my main motivation for using Wordpress and I happily expect to pay a professional designer a fair price to create or customize something that works and looks great). The #1 benefit I see to using Wordpress for my firm's new website is ease of updating. But what are the drawbacks and limitations, from either a technical or professional standpoint? Do many web designers even work in Wordpress? If so, can anyone recommend a great web designer skilled in Wordpress? Bonus points for someone in or near Chicago, Illinois.

A few more facts: I'm not interested in eCommerce and Search Engine Optimization is also not a big concern (my practice field is somewhat esoteric, my clients are businesses and other lawyers--decidedly NOT individuals likely to use Google to find a lawyer.) The primary audience for my site would be my existing clients and opposing counsel coming to check me out.

Throwaway email is youtellraphael at gmail. I appreciate any experienced opinions from web designers or attorneys who use Wordpress websites, links to example sites, or designer referrals (esp. in or near Chicago). Anonymous to avoid linking my MeFi posting history with my professional identity. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There are plenty of professionally designed wordpress templates. Here are some examples.
(Disclaimer: I don't endorse that site, I just found it with a Google search.)
There are others.

You can certainly pay a designer to have a Wordpress template designed just for you. Wordpress is pretty flexible, and future versions are going to introduce even more CMS-like features.

I think you'll be fine.
posted by Mwongozi at 10:43 AM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is entirely feasible. There are a lot of very sharp themes available for WP, both free and paid, and there's a big ecosystem of theme designers out there doing quality paid work.

I've got a hobby/business website that I recently switched to WP. I don't think it looks particularly bloggy, and I just took an existing theme and tweaked it a little to suit my purposes. There are a lot of themes out there designed to be art portfolios, magazines, whatever, and don't seem bloggy.

I don't really see a downside to using WP as the back-end to your website. It's not hard to add custom features if you need them, although if you needed some kind of complex feature to be added on (say, a client portal with encrypted document management) WP might not be the best starting point.

Smashing Magazine frequently rounds up nice WP themes, and although none of these might be what you're looking for, they should give you some idea of the diversity of what people are doing with WP. Graph paper press has a lot of non-bloggy paid themes.
posted by adamrice at 10:53 AM on April 10, 2010

This is completely feasible, in fact, I would highly recommend Wordpress for this. I just finished a website in Wordpress for one of our company's clients that is a small law firm in Iowa. I'll send you an email with a link to it so you can see what I'm talking about.

A good Wordpress designer can use a little PHP to make a website that looks like anything. So in short it's not just for blogs. The biggest pros of Wordpress are how easy it is to update and and how incredibly flexible it is. There is a plugin out there to make it do just about whatever you want.
posted by cirrostratus at 10:54 AM on April 10, 2010

I've done 2 sites fr law-firms, both based on WP with a custom design. You'll be fine
posted by Mick at 11:17 AM on April 10, 2010

I did a site for a company based on WP about 3 years ago, back when WP was first stepping into having Pages rather than posts only. I'd say it's more than possible.

Step 1: Make various templates in PHP, using all the various functions that WP has as standard, or ones provided by plugins.

Step 2: The whole CSS design-y bit.

Step 3: Profit! Website!
posted by djgh at 11:30 AM on April 10, 2010

Absolutely. I'd check out ThemeForest for some WP themes-- advantage is that most of the theme designers there give great support (kriesi for one).
posted by mireille at 12:22 PM on April 10, 2010

100% possible. Chris Coyier at CSS Tricks has written a book on Wordpress (Digging into Wordpress) and is in the Chicago area. Not sure if he is looking for work, but he is a great front end developer.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:59 PM on April 10, 2010

Find an experienced and competent designer with Wordpress chops who can show you live sites he/she has designed. Give some thought to the server that will host your site. You want realiability, but you don't want to pay for more capacity and capability than you need. A good site builder can advise on that, i.e., do more than just design the visual aspects of the site. While updating Wordpress is easy, you might consider retaining a relationship with someone you can call if things go awry.
posted by justcorbly at 4:06 PM on April 10, 2010

Definitely possible. Wordpress can be used as a CMS; but can be very limiting depending on what you want to do. It's perfect for small sites though. For example, this site I made using Wordpress as the CMS: Androits.
posted by wolfr at 1:27 PM on April 11, 2010

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