Themes Website Appearance Website Development XE Week 1 - introduction and websites

Creating a website inc. Themes, Posts, Pages

Starting a site

The first assignment was to make a website and to start populating it, the results of which are here, all around you – take a look.

The site acts as the deliverable for one of my uni modules, XE404. This module is all about Digital Fabrication methods and loosely follows the Fab Academy course structure. The intention is to use the site to document what I learn and how I learn it.

It was recommended that we created the site using Edublogs as they’ll be hosted by the University of Brighton and are protected by GDPR. Edublogs uses a lite version of the WordPress site building platform – essentially the same using WP but with fewer advanced features and choices for plugins and widgets.

 

Themes

First thing to do is choose a theme for the site. Themes dictate the appearance and features of a site so they’re very important but when first starting I recommend not spending too long choosing. Without content all themes look pretty empty and chances are you’ll end up changing your mind about how you want the site to work and look – just choose something you like and doesn’t look like the site for booking a cottage in the Cotswolds….

wordpress themes

 

live view device options

live view device options

On the themes page (above) you can live view themes to see what how you site and content would look without having to commit to the change – this is most useful once you’ve begun to populate the site. In the live view page (below) you can see and adjust the features that are available with that theme. It is also possible to see how your site will display on different devices by hitting the buttons in the bottom left corner.

theme live view

Note. You can access the same features of the live view once you’ve selected a theme by going to the ‘customise’ option of the admin bar at the top of any page.

I experimented with a few different themes and settled on ‘Garfunkel’ as I feel like it has a simple and crisp look and appeared to have useful features (hard to know what’ll be useful starting out though).

 

Making a page/post

Pages and posts are the main ways to add content to a site. They’re created and edited in a similar way but they perform in different ways so it is important to know the difference. The table below is taken from edublogs’ article Posts vs Pages and highlights the key differences.

Properties of a Page Properties of a Post
  • Blog pages are displayed independently of post history and are more static.  They remain the same from day to day since they are rarely updated
  • Normally used for information that you want to share with readers but don’t expect to update frequently.
  • Pages don’t have time stamps so don’t show the date they are published.
  • Blog pages can appear any where in your blog depending on your theme.
  • You can change the order pages appear.
  • You can’t assign category and tags to pages.
  • Pages don’t appear in RSS feeds so readers need to visit your blog to view latest page updates.
  • You can create sub-pages which you assign to a parent page to create nested pages.
  • Blog posts appear in reverse chronological order so that the most recent posts is the first post that your readers see.
  • Post are dynamic and updated regularly.
  • Posts have a time show which displays the date and time the post was published.
  • You can assign categories and tags to posts which make them easier to find.
  • Posts appear in RSS feed so readers who subscribe to your blog will receive your latest post in their RSS reader.
  • Posts display the name of the post author.

 

The first task of this module (after choosing a theme) was to make an ‘About Me‘ page. new drop down optionsPages and posts are created in a very similar way. Either via the site dashboard under ‘posts’ or ‘pages’ or via the drop down options when selecting ‘new’ in the admin bar – you’ll be faced with a blank page or post (below). The main content is added and edited to the large middle box.

The default editing style is a WYSIWYG (“wiz-ee-wig”), what you see is what you get, know as ‘Visual’. It acts similar to a text document and allows the editor to get a very accurate idea of what the final outcome will be. Alternatively, editing can be switched to ‘Text’ editor which allows you to write your posts in HTML and to add embed code.

 

new post screenshot

 

So I created a new page, titled it “About” and added a few lines of text to about myself and the purpose of the site I’m making. I also added a photo of myself but I’ve made an additional post all about how media and photos can be added to a site so I won’t go into it here.

page editing screenshot

 

Once you’re happy with the content you can hit publish and the page or post will exist on the site.

published post screenshot

 

page and post publishing optionsI’ll be doing additional posts about the many different features available whilst editing pages and posts later but I’ll finally just mention the publishing options. A page or post can be saved as a draft if you want to save it for another time. You can also adjust the viability so only yourself or specific users can view them. You can also schedule when to publish which is especially useful if you want a regular stream of content added to your site.

Also, once published you can view the number of revisions a post or page has had and also view and edit the date that it is published – editing the date can be useful as it allows you to control how posts order.

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