I recently succumbed to the need to upgrade my main law office website, jcmarkowitz.com, to make it look more professional and up-to-date. My law office site was one I created myself more than 10 years ago using the Blogger platform. About 6 years ago, I created this mediation site myself using Blogger. I still have a lot of affection for Blogger, which has a number of advantages going for it. Blogger is free. It is easy to set up and use. Editing posts, and even changing the layout and the template, is simple and intuitive. And the platform is more versatile than people give it credit for, allowing for some fairly sophisticated possibilities.

On the other hand, Google doesn’t seem to have taken much interest in recent years in improving the Blogger platform, and, unless Google has some plans I don’t know about, Blogger appears in danger of becoming a relic of the past. Most designers, and most owners of commercial websites, have long ago migrated to WordPress. It seemed like the obvious choice for my revamped website.

WordPress’s capabilities seem limited only by the designer’s imagination. Though it started as a blogging platform, WordPress now allows an enormous variety of content and layouts, while seamlessly integrating the blogging function anywhere the website owner wants to install it. On the other hand, I find that creating new blog posts in WordPress is more cumbersome than Blogger, and making other changes to the website is more complicated. It is much less “what you see is what you get.” It is also less “do it yourself.” I needed a professional website designer to create the WordPress site I wanted, and I will probably need help going forward in maintaining the site, unlike my Blogger sites, which I’ve been able to keep updated without any help.

I had to deal with a related dilemma in creating my new site. Should I integrate this mediation blog with my law office website? Or should I maintain this mediation blog as a separate, stand-alone site?

I lean toward the view that a blog and a commercial website are two different things. A blog is an educational and informational platform presenting the author’s views on a relatively narrow topic. It can also be used as a diary or creative outlet for the author. A blog therefore should not be too blatantly promotional. A blog’s content should be more article-like than advertisement-like. A commercial website, on the other hand, should function as a business’s virtual address. It serves as a calling card and promotional tool for the business. It might need a lot of content to inform the public of all of the business’s activities, but it doesn’t necessarily need a creative or educational diary to perform its functions.

In the law firm world, I notice that while firms are encouraged to create blogs to show off their expertise and enhance their online visibility, not too many firms are very good at keeping up with producing good blogging content. That may be because blogging is a different task from the main website’s task of describing the firm’s capabilities, and because not all firms can find somebody in the office who likes doing it.

Joe Markowitz has practiced commercial litigation for more than 30 years, both in New York City and Los Angeles, and has served as a mediator for more than fifteen years. He is a member of the Mediation Panels in both the District Court and Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California. He is currently the president-elect of the Southern California Mediation Association. Website: www.mediate-la.com/