Easy to edit websites for community organisations Using WordPress for your website Paddy O’Reilly, E-mentor ACFE Northern Metropolitan Region November 2008
What is a website for? It’s worth revisiting this regularly for your own site - what is its role? Has the role changed? Could it be used better? The usual suspects Promotion - the web is now the first stop for people to find products and services Providing information - everything people need to know about your business is easily accessible Sales - you can sell stuff online or you can get people excited about what you sell Saving money - compared to preparing, printing and distributing printed materials, it’s cheap Speed - something’s changed in your business? New teacher or new course? It can be updated on your website immediately. Other uses at your organisation? Please add on next screen and say whether you’re at a small (S) or large org (L)
How often do you update your website? A More than once a week B About once a week C 1 - 3 times a month D Once every two to six months E Once every six to twelve months
Poll Results Normally, the reasons people don’t update their content are along the lines of “We have too much on, we just don’t have the time to put into a website” or “Our website’s on the agenda but we can’t afford to keep paying someone to update it”.
Common problems with websites for small organisations
An outsider runs the website and changes are expensive, so are only done infrequently
Money is committed to the original design and therefore managers feel they have to stick with it for a long time
Even if it is up to date, it rarely changes because it has very little information, therefore there’s no reason for anyone to visit more than once
It is ugly
It is aimed at people who have never been to the centre (basic info only) and is of no use to people involved with the centre
What is WordPress?
WordPress is originally blogging software. It supports two basic types of content - Pages and Posts
Pages are used to hold information that is valid for a longer span of time. For such content, a change overwrites the earlier content.
Posts are used for content which is more dynamic, like news and updates. Instead overwriting with changes, such content builds a searchable archive.
Any web site that represents an entity - company, product, educational institution or individual, has both types of content. Providing news and updates and their helps keep the readers and customers up to date and shows the organisation is vital.
Why use WordPress for a website 3 good reasons
It’s easy to use
It can easily adapt as your needs change
Administration of a web site is one of the biggest hurdles in maintaining it. WordPress provides an easy to use administration interface for writing and managing content, and configuration of the web site.
WordPress also sports a simple but effective roles and capabilities system. This is extremely useful if you appoint different non-technical people for managing the web site configuration, managing content or adding the content.
The support community is constantly developing new free themes (styles and configurations), plugins and widgets which expand the capabilities, and upgrades of the basic software.
Upgrades and upgrades of plugins can be automated so that keeping the the site technically up-to-date can be done by a non-technical person
Why use WordPress for a website(in more detail)
An SQL database (most internet service providers have this as part of their normal service)
An FTP upload program
A text editor (such as notepad on Windows or Textwrangler on Mac)
A tech-minded person to do the initial setup - not necessarily a professional, just someone who can use an FTP program and a text editor.
What do you need for first installation? Presuming you have a domain name: eg www.myhouse.org.au
Once the setup is done, registered editors and content managers only need a web browser (Internet explorer/Firefox/Safari/Opera all work fine) to update the site content. Then what?
Plug-ins to make everything easier
What makes WordPress work for the simple people like me, is plugins and widgets, where smart tech people make complicated things possible to do with one click. Some examples of indispensable plugins and widgets.
Automatic Upgrade - takes you through the process to upgrade your WordPress software with each new version. No technical knowledge needed.,
Spamfree (with contact form) - Blocks comment spam and has a spam-blocking contact form
Google Sitemap - creates a sitemap of your blog and assists search engine indexing (so you come up in internet searches)
pageMash - one place WordPress does fall down is in its clunky way of ordering pages in the menu. This plugin fixes that.
WPLite - allows you to simplify the back end of WordPress so that less confident users only see what they need to see when adding or editing content
Other useful plugins
WP-polls - create polls which can be either/or, multiple choice, etc, and display results on your site
Wp-print - displays a printable version of your WordPress blog's post/page.
WP e-commerce plugin (I haven’t used this but it has good reviews) Allows people to purchase or pay fees online and integrates with Google Checkout, Paypal, Authorize.net, Payment Express and others)
Save yourself time - note down what questions you answer most on the phone and in person. Much time and effort is wasted by repeatedly providing the same information. Put that information on the website. List the main roles of your centre - these will become the main pages of your site. Think about your centre users - can they be grouped so that you can provide sets of resources for them on the website - eg ESL learners or social groups. Make it easy for people to find you in the real world - include a detailed road map on your site (or embed a small Google map), and make things even easier by indicating where to park and public transport routes. Plan to let people know what’s happening on a regular basis - a new course? New equipment? Someone wants to start a support group or study group? It only takes two minutes to write and upload a post, and it makes your website relevant and worth coming back to . Plan to make sharing information online part of your office routine. Things to consider before setting up a website
Who will update the site? - Giving a number of people access to update the site is good. One or two should have admin level access. One should have responsibility for making sure it’s reasonably up-to-date. Most should be able to write and edit posts. More people putting information up on the site makes the site vibrant and community building. (And you can always delete anything you think shouldn’t be there) Who will approve/not approve comments? - this should be someone who is there often. If you don’t want anyone to be able to comment on your site, you can turn this function off. Planning is good, action is great - as WordPress is so easy to update, you don’t have to bite your nails and agonise over the number of pages, widgets, etc. Once you have a basic plan, get it up. You can change it as you need. The internet is DYNAMIC. That typo someone picked up can be gone in ten seconds. More stuff to consider before
Don’t be afraid of geeky terminology (for the person who does the original setup) PHP - is a scripting language, originally designed for producing dynamic web pages. You don’t need to know how to code. If you need to do anything to a .php file when setting up, such as copy and paste a line into one, just treat it like a text document. Make changes with a text editor like notepad (NOT MS Word which puts in gobbledegook). MySQL Database - is the database that holds all the info for your website. You don’t have to do anything except tell your server, ‘Yes I want one,’ and give it a name. Instructions are on the WordPress site. Then it runs itself (thank heavens) I’m sure the day is coming when we’ll never even hear these terms because it will be so streamlined for us non-tech types.
Thanks to Ifacethoughts.net for some text www.wordpress.org http://tinyurl.com/6azo7y (ten free handsome wp themes) http://rubiqube.com/website-and-matching-blog-using-wordpress-as-cms-easy-as-pie/ (setting up WordPress as a website with side blog - lesson)