Gazelle Blog: by Ann, the Chief Go-Getter
Ideas, tips and discussions related to programming for the web, community outreach and business strategy.
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Just about anyone can make a nice-looking, well-organized website these days if they are willing to get their hands just a little dirty. I’ve used WordPress with customized themes to create the following sites:
- The Joanna Hayes Foundation
- USATF Diversity Committee
- The Official Website of Jason High
- Jonathan C. Little, Attorney at Law
Here are a few tips for creating a website with WordPress for your personal or business use:
Create Pages, not Posts, for your informational content.
Most websites have a Home page and an About page. Depending on what the site is for, you may also want “Services,” “Portfolio,” “FAQ,” “Links,” pages and so on. These should be created as Pages in WordPress, not Posts. Only write Posts as part of your site’s Blog, if you want one.
Make sure you create a Page called “Home.” Then under Settings -> Reading, at the top of the screen, check the box for the front page to display a Static Page and select the Home Page to be the one displayed.
Get rid of Commenting, Author Name, the Timestamp and anything else but the actual content on each Page.
This will get rid of that “blog look.” For some themes, you can disable these things in the settings. For others, they are already removed on the static Pages for you. In case they’re not, you’ll need to edit the page.php file under Appearance -> Editor. This is the template file that each of your site’s Pages follows.
In the page.php file, look for a PHP function call that says “comments_template();” and put two slashes in front of it to disable that call: “//comments_template();” …do the same thing with the function call “the_time();” to get rid of the timestamp for the date and time the page was published to the site. If you see an Author listed under the title of the Pages on your site, look for a function call like “the_author()” or “the_author_posts_link()” and put two slashes in front of it. If there is also the word “by” in front of the author call, just delete it.
In general, if you see something in the body of a Page on your site that you don’t want, you can search the page.php file and get rid of the code causing that information to display.
Put your own copyright in the Footer
Under Appearance -> Editor, edit the footer.php file. This is usually just a few lines of code. Usually there is a credit to the theme’s author there. Ethically, you should leave this in unless you customized their theme so much that it is unrecognizable from their original. But next or above their credit, add something like “© 2010 [YOUR SITE NAME],” replacing of course “[YOUR SITE NAME]” with your site name. The “©” will show the copyright symbol. If you want 2010 to automatically increment every year, then replace 2010 with “<?php echo date(“Y”); ?>.”
Customize your Sidebar…or get rid of it.
For a site that will include a blog, a great way to display recent blog posts is to put them in the sidebar using a widget. Go to Appearance -> Widgets and drag the “Recent Posts” widget over to the Sidebar box on the right.
If you are on Twitter or Facebook, either put links to your accounts in your sidebar or embed a Twitter and/or Facebook widget for your account.
If you’re just going to link to your accounts, it is a nice touch to use icons instead of text links. Here is a great site from which to download Social Media Button icons. You will need to upload these button icons under Media, copy the link to each, and then create a Text/HTML widget in your Sidebar that looks similar to:
<a href="http://twitter.com/yourtwittername" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/tweet.png" border=0></a>
Of course, you would replace “yourtwittername” with your twitter handle and
with the link to the social media button you uploaded under Media.
If you want to embed a Twitter or Facebook widget, you can grab the code from your account on those sites and paste it into a Text/HTML widget in your sidebar.
Other ideas for your sidebar are:
- Contact Information for you or your organization
- Upcoming Events, if applicable
- Partner or Sponsor links and/or logos.
If none of these apply to your site, and you don’t have a blog on your site, you don’t HAVE to have anything on your sidebar.
To get rid of your sidebar entirely, you can usually edit the footer.php file and put two slashes (“//”) in front of the call to “get_sidebar();” to disable it. If you don’t see that in the footer.php file, you may be able to disable it in your theme’s settings.
While I certainly didn’t cover all of the possibilities for customization here, I hope that gets you off to a good start. Feel free to comment if you have questions!
- Ann, Chief Go-Getter
This post was originally published at GirlyGeekdom.com
I was brainstorming with a director at Girls Inc Orange County on Monday about ways in which Women for Girls, a group of professional women in support of Girls Inc OC, could work with the girls served by the organization. The director was briefing me on the various programs currently in place, one of which is an internship program, placing high school girls with local businesses for a four-week internship that hopefully pays a stipend of at least a few hundred dollars.
The very first thing I thought was, “Let me hire one so I can teach her how to make websites!”
I’ve been contemplating offering “WordPress Consultation” as one of my services to fill in the gap between zero dollars and the starting price of a custom website by my company. Often I come across a potential client that just doesn’t have the money upfront to pay for a custom website and yet they have no idea how to create one themselves. I’ve had to turn these clients down because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to help everyone, even if I want to, without getting proper pay.
I often think to myself, “I could teach them how to do this themselves in a few hours,” especially if all they need is a basic informational website. WordPress (and other such blog packages you can host yourself) has made it possible to create a professional-looking website that is easy to maintain in a matter of hours…even minutes. Honestly.
Think about the most basic of websites with a home page, an about page, a services page, and a contact page. That’s four pages. Literally – pick a cool theme and activate it, create four Pages in the WordPress dashboard, label them appropriately, make sure the main navigation displays pages (and not categories), and you’re essentially done!
Ahhh, did I lose you a bit? “But how do I change the main navigation?” you ask. Yes, it’s true that you might need to tinker with some PHP code in order to make this work. That’s what scares most people off…just the mention of “code” will usually end the conversation.
But if I had an intern and it was her JOB to learn new things, I could show her. I could guide her through the entire process, and by the time we set up a couple of them together, she’d be off an running on her own, figuring out how to make expandable menus and hooking up the featured content gallery plugin. Of course, we’d also have to get into the details about hosting – Nameservers, E-mail Address setup, and so on. But all of this is pretty simple after you’ve done it a few times.
Just think of the power that gives her. A teenager who can create websites! She could setup a shared hosting account so she has space for a bunch of small sites as well as a discounted rate on domain names. Tben she could go to local businesses with fliers advertising her starting rate and rate per page after, say, four pages. They’ll trust her because she’s local and she’s not a big company who’s going to charge them an arm and a leg in the beginning and $100 every time a word needs to be changed. Also, she’s young and “hip” and will be perceived as current and “up on the latest styles” in terms of design and what catches people’s attention. Her prices will be lower than her competitors because she has no overhead – no office to rent, no employees to pay, and the only supplies she needs are a computer and internet access.
Knowing how to make websites has opened many doors in my life. How many doors could it open for young girls?
Below is the explanation of a problem I need to find an algorithm for. Feel free to take a stab at it…
We have a schedule of high school football games. There are about 300 teams, which really doesn’t matter, but just FYI. It is a 9-week season and each team has one bye during one of those weeks. So each team plays 8 games. The opponents are already assigned for each game based on lots of different criteria including location, ranking, each team’s preference, etc. Now the Home and Away designations must be assigned. This is the tricky part because:
- Each team must have exactly 4 home games and exactly 4 away games total.
- In the last 5 weeks (which is when they play district opponents), each team must have either 2 home games or 3 home games (so that it is as balanced as possible).
- No team can have more than 2 home OR away games in a row.
- Some teams play an out-of-state team in week 1 and/or week 2. If so, the home or away value is already set – either they play out of the state or at home and this can’t be changed. But, this game(s) does factor into the overall total number of home and away games for that school for the season.
Have at it!