Recap: I made a WordPress Website last year

Note: I wrote this post in early January when I was reviewing what I had completed in 2016. It’s important reflect back sometimes and I realized that I had not properly highlighted some work I did outside of work.

When you’re starting out in “building a brand” or, at least creating a professional website that is a central location to showcase what you’ve worked on and are working, it can be confusing, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. When launched this website back in 2012, I had already had four years of publishing on Google’s Blogger platform (which hosts [name] websites).

Deciding to switch over to WordPress and starting over took a few weeks of research (which platform should I use, should I copy over/redirect or even (gasp) delete my old site. Once I decided on switching it took some time to find the best theme for me at the time. I found that StudioPress makes among the best premium WordPress themes (which are all based on the terrific Genesis framework used by many organizations (including the University of Mary Washington, run by Curtiss Grymala, who presented on WordPress in Higher Ed at WordCamp US). At the time I wasn’t interested in learning the nuts and bolts of getting hosting and all the other work involved in running a self-hosted site (I’ve since developed that interest and am experimenting with my own site). I found one of their themes (Basis) worked well for portfolio purposes and could be expanded upon later as necessary. I’ve helped organizations decide on and/or implement web changes for nearly four years since I served on Mount Allison’s Web Advisory Group when they were working on their website redesign project. I also wrote about the need for the new website and the process of the project for the student newspaper.

Anyways, this is all to say that when a long-serving and prominent faculty member, Al Vernacchio, (whose feature in the New York Times was followed up by a successful book and has become a media expert) talked to me about his need to have a central website where anyone interested including media/conference organizers, etc) could find a categorized listing of things produced by or about him, I was comfortable in discussing the options he could consider.

We discussed the ultimate goal of the website, a number of website providers, and possible future uses of the site. I provided a number of options and we ultimately decided on The Theme Foundry’s Basis theme. We found that it had the visual style he liked, the natural way of showcasing three major categories of his work (educator, author, and speaker), and the overall versatility of the site (different layout options including a product page and testimonials).

After being provided the source material of images, text, and links, I worked on my off-hours to put it together. We had future meetings and officially launched in July to some positive responses. You also can see Al’s thoughts on my work on my LinkedIn profile.

Anyways, I think it functions well, and, more importantly, Al likes it and it’s easy for people to find his work organized logically and contact him via his preferred methods. It’s a small example but it’s important to note that it’s not the website I would make for myself, the point being the website is for Al’s audience and it’s structured in a way that fits their needs.

Responses to my article in CURRENTS (CASE’s Magazine)

Back in January, CASE published my article on using inbound marketing to reach admissions marketing goals in their magazine and online. I’ve been trying to keep track of the responses so far and it seems keeping a running tally here makes the most sense. If you haven’t read it yet, take a look and tell me what you think!

I’m looking forward to seeing if there are any traditional reader responses in the next issue but this is what I’ve heard so far:

Never Stop Learning – a non-developer at WordCamp US

Back in December, I was invited to attend the first ever WordCamp US, WordPress’ first national conference. I wrote about it for the Philadelphia HubSpot User Group. The full post is available on their blog. Snippets are included below.

What the Heck is WordCamp US?

It brought over two thousand web developers, writers, editors, and marketers to the city for workshops focused on WordPress, the Content Management System (CMS) that powers more than a quarter of all websites on the internet. Local tech news and even 6ABC covered the event as well.

With sessions ranging from the social “Communities and The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense” to the more technical “React[.js] + WordPress” and “Advanced Topics in WordPress Development”, one could easily be overwhelmed with so many good choices.

Educational Websites Are Beasts

While those and other sessions were informative and entertaining, the session that was most inspiring (at my beginner level of coding ability), started with “WordPress In Higher Education” by Curtiss Grymala, Senior Web Technologist at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He discussed the various ways in which colleges and universities (in addition to schools at those universities and down to individual student web spaces) use WordPress.

The day ended with the annual “State of the Word”, presented by Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress. He had a number of impressive product updates and announcements (including the proof that WordPress REST API can scale, given that StoryCorps uses it and it was linked to from the homepage of Google), but one of his key points was that while PHP isn’t going away, JavaScript would be increasingly important.