Instructor: RL Malcolm
Illinois Central College
February 19, 2013
Starting a Website
The internet has undoubtedly opened up doors of opportunity that were beyond conceivable in the not so distant past. One such opportunity is being able to establish a personal or professional brand. While brand establishment can be achieved in many ways, including the use of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, websites still remain the most flexible and impressive primary medium. As the internet matures, online services get easier and more powerful, and this makes now a great time to start a website. Rather than having to manually work with HTML and CSS codes and paying large sum of server costs, free tools are provided that helps avoid having to do any coding and helps keep costs at a minimum while still allowing one to build a professional looking and responsive website. One such tool is WordPress, and by creating a WordPress.com account and configuring a few details, it becomes easy to get started with a fresh new website for personal or professional use.
The first step into successfully creating a website is registering an account on WordPress.com. A WordPress.com is required to create and manage one or more website. An account can be created by going to WordPress.com website at http://wordpress.com and clicking the bright, orange, “Get Started” button. This will launch the account registration form, where a few details must be filled out. In the form, there are standard fields that need to be filled out, including email address, username, and password; also included is a field in which the user must choose a web address, such as mywebsite.com. WordPress provides free site address as long as it ends with .wordpress.com and provided it is already not taken by someone else. For example, the user may choose mywebsite.wordpress.com, as long as it is not yet taken, free of charge. However, the user may also choose a more common, and professional, web address, such as mywebsite.com, mywebsite.net, or mywebsite.org, for a small, annual fee, ranging from $18 per year to $25 per year. Once the standard field and the web address field has been filled out, the user can complete the registration by selecting one of three packages. Of the three package, the basic package is free of charge, labeled as “$0 for life”, and for starters, the basic package should more than meet the needs. The basic, free, package includes three gigabytes of space, unlimited bandwidth, free site themes, basic customizations, and community support. For those who want to make, powerful, complex, websites with full customizability, larger storage space, and direct customer support, may opt in for a paid, premium or business, package. Once one of the three packages has been chosen, registration is complete. WordPress.com will send a verification link to the email address entered in the registration field that must be clicked by the user to confirm the registration and the validity of the email address. Once the email is verified, WordPress.com will ask about personal interests, recommend blogs to follow, and give the option to connect with social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. All these are post registration configuration and are completely optional. The user may choose to configure them or skip them entirely. Now that the user has completed registration and the post registration configurations, he or she is now presented with the initial website configuration process.
Configuring the basic website information is next milestone in starting one’s first website. The user is presented with a basic form after he or she registers. This form is the first part in the initial website configuration. The form includes a field to give the website a name and a field to for the website tagline. The website tagline is just a brief sentence that describes the website or its purpose. The title of the site and its tagline is used in the header of the website as well as on the label of the browser tab when one visits the website. The form also includes a language option, where the user can set the language of his or her website. Once complete, the user clicks on the “Next Step” button to configure the second part of the initial website configuration, site theme. There are variety of professional and beautiful themes to choose from. Some of these are paid while others are free to use. The user can select a theme and preview it. Once the user is satisfied, he or she can customize its colors by clicking the customize button. Once this is complete, the user clicks “Next Step” to complete the initial website configuration. At these stage, the website is completely configured and ready to be used. The final stage—which, perhaps, is the best part—is adding the actual content, from text, photos, to videos.
The final stage of creating a website is fulfilling its purpose, which is sharing content. Once the user click’s the “Next Step” button after selecting a theme, the user is presented with a simple word processor to help him or her jump start with sharing content. The user can add rich text and media such as images and videos. Once the first content is created, it can be published by clicking the publish button. This will publish the content as the first post of the website, which will show up on the website’s home page. It is important to note that adding content right away is entirely optional. The user may choose to leave the text editor blank and click finish. The user is now taken to the WordPress.com feed page. He or she must click the “My Blogs” button on the, blue, header toolbar to see all his or her websites (in this case, only one will show up). Clicking on the name of the site will take the user to his or her website’s homepage. Because the user is still logged in to WordPress.com a grey menu bar will be present on the top of the website. This menu bar allows the user to add new posts, add new static pages, modify existing posts or static pages, manage comments, change the website theme, add photos and videos, add sidebar widgets to websites, and configure lots of other features of the site. At this point, the user is now flying solo. He or she is free to add any content or customize the website anyway he or she pleases. A fresh new website has been created and is ready to be shared with the world.