Preparing for Website Weekend

Hello Website Warriors!

If you have signed up for Website Weekend, we want you to get your website live just as much as you do! In order for you to get the most out of this class, we are ask that you do a little bit of homework to prepare. There are four main things we ask you to have ready before class:

You need web hosting, a domain name, and WordPress installed on your server. We recommend that you use Bluehost, Siteground or WP Engine for web hosting, and if you pay for a year of hosting, you generally get a perk like domain name registration or a two months of free hosing.

Hosting

Some things to think about when choosing between the recommended hosts:

  • Budget = Bluehost: If budget is paramount, or you plan to host multiple sites, choose Bluehost as they are less expensive and you can host as many sites as you want for one fee (up to a point, they have some database restrictions but you would probably never meet them).
  • Mid-Range = Siteground Siteground is faster hosting, and a little bit more expensive than the former choice. You can still host as many sites as you want, but for a slightly higher fee.
  • Safety & Security = WP Engine: If you want to make sure your site is backed up constantly, pampered like a newborn, secure, and restorable in case anything breaks, and you want to have a copy of the site you can monkey with without affecting your live site, choose WP Engine. This is a much more full featured plan for a single website, but it is more expensive and they won’t host your email (you can host the email on your registrar or Google Apps). Their plans are PER WEBSITE, so if you are going to make many websites the cost can add up.

Domain Name

  • Buying a domain name for Bluehost or Siteground: If you are buying your hosting at Bluehost or Siteground, it is probably easiest / cheapest to get your domain name there (free with a year of hosting).
  • Buying a domain name for WPEngine: If you are using WP Engine, you need to get your domain name elsewhere. Any ICAAN accredited registrar will do, but most people use GoDaddy (for price reasons).
  • Already own a domain? If you already own your domain name through another registrar, that’s totally fine too. Just make sure you have your username and password for this, and that you get it pointed at your hosting before class.

Installing WordPress

WPEngine installs WordPress by default when you sign up for an account. Bluehost & Siteground have an easy “one click” installer for WordPress. We’ll want to make sure you have a WordPress installation before you come to class.

Need help? If you need help getting your hosting or WordPress installation set up, we would be glad to help but will need to know a few days prior to class, as it takes a bit of time. We are happy to do this, so don’t hesitate to ask! If you already have hosting (for an old site), and you want to use the hosting you have, give us a call to set up a plan for how to do this. Usually it involves setting up a new “development” server by adding a subdomain (dev.yoursite.com where yoursite.com is your current domain) and installing WordPress there. If you are tech savvy, you may be able to do this without our help, but we are happy to lend a hand.

We can help! If you have purchased your hosting and your domain name, we can help you install WordPress and / or connect your domain name and your hosting. Or if you haven’t done one or both because you just aren’t sure, don’t hesitate to reach out to us a few days before class!

ALSO: If you can’t have your hosting set up with WordPress before class, don’t fret. We can set up hosting where you can work temporarily. But do let us know, so we can be prepared!

You need pictures to go on your website. A website is pretty boring without pictures. You can take photos, buy them from stock photo sites (we recommend www.istockphoto.com), or find free photos online:

Logo

If you have a logo, bring that to class as well. If you don’t have one, we will make sure that your organization name looks compelling and pretty by using a nice font.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that it is not legal to take images from google images or other sources that have not given you explicit rights. When procuring images from the web, make sure that you have the rights to use them. Either buy images or choose sources where you have read and understand the usage guidelines. 

You will want to have thought about your website content and your site structure. This class is about constructing your website and understanding the technology to enhance and maintain it. In class, there will not be time for writing. It is a good idea to understand what you want to say and the structure of your site before coming to class, and it helps to have written your content. Creating your site structure (what pages you need) is a lot like writing an outline. Here are three different sitemaps to give you an idea of common pages on websites:

(These examples are just to help you think about how your pages will be organized. Look at the outline in the content area of the page.)

Please spend some time before class documenting your sitemap/outline, and writing content for each page. Please note, though, that your website will be easy to iterate and change, so it doesn’t need to be perfect and we expect that your ideas will evolve durring class.

Primary Content vs. Sidebar Content / Asides

Generally web pages have a primary and a secondar column. You will want to focus a lot of your attention on primary column content, but you may want to write asides for various pages as well.

Two Columns

Examples:

These websites/pages use a lot of page specific sidebar content:

When writing your content, consider whether you have secondary content that you would like to include. You can have the same secondary content on every page, or you can have it vary from page to page.

There are now a lot of ways to customize your website design inWordPress. Please spend some time prior to class looking at websites and deciding what you do and don’t like. If you bring examples of sites you love to class, we can help you to make your site similar. We’ll talk about WordPress themes in class, so you don’t need to choose one, you just need to know your design preferences and be able to share them with us. If you do start researching WordPress themes, we recommend you do not *buy* a premium them before the end of Day 1 of class.

Home Page Layout Considerations

Your home page is probably the most important page on your website, and sometimes websites only consist of one page. Look at other website’s home pages, and think about what you want for yours. Some things to consider:

  • Do you want a slider or big image?
  • Do you have individual calls to action to include?
  • Do you have a lot of information that needs additional boxes / homes?

It is pretty common to break the home page up into a main area that uses images / text and three or more subsidiary areas to highlight what is unique and desirable about your organization. If you want this sort of layout, the theme you chose needs to support it.

MIGHTYminnow Home Page

That’s all for now – see you in class!