This semester long project gives you an opportunity to explore the challenge of website design and production. While the website mainly serves as a space for you to submit your work for class, it also allows you to consider other aspects of creating a blog or website related to making the site visually appealing and effectively organized, adding more ways for your audience to engage with and navigate through your work, sharing other interests, and developing a professional identity.
For your site, I will ask you to use the same platform I use for my website: WordPress. (You can potentially use a different platform, such as Weebly or Wix, but I won’t be able to offer as much support for these.) To get started, create a WordPress account and think about what you would like to name your site. You don’t necessarily need to share this site beyond our class, so you are welcome to use a name that is mainly functional or fun. You might consider using this as the foundation of a professional site (something you use beyond this class), and in that case, it would help to use your name for the site or something else that captures your professional identity. Once you have decided on a name, go ahead and register your own WordPress site. For our class purposes, there is no need to pay for anything, although you are welcome to do so for your own purposes if you would like to register your domain name or get more functionality.
As the semester progresses, we will mainly use the site as a space to submit and share work. Beyond submitting your work to the site, there are not specific requirements for the website. That being said, the most effective sites will consider and address the following concerns in some way.
- Theme. Your WordPress theme goes a long way toward shaping the layout and design of your site. Try experimenting with different themes until you find what works best for you.
- Visual Design. You have control over many visual aspects of your site: colors, the header image, the background, etc. This can be a good way to add personal touches or to help establish the atmosphere and identity of your site.
- Organization. Your site should help any reader (including people outside of our class) navigate through the content on the site. This can be done by using tabs/menus, parent pages and child pages, or widgets that allow readers to look over recent posts, tags, or archives.
- Embedded Content. Embedding links, images, videos, tweets, etc., allows you to incorporate different types of content, to cite relevant people and conversations, and to engage your audience through different modes of writing.
- Widgets. In addition to widgets that help you organize and share site content (Archive, Category Cloud, Recent Posts), there are a range of widgets that help you share other content, interests, and links. These include a Twitter widget that posts recent tweets, Blogs I Follow, Flickr or Instagram, a Music Player, and Links.
- Additional Pages. Consider adding extra pages that address other interests or help you develop your online professional identity. This could include an About page, a resume, a page that includes embedded content that captures an outside interest, or anything else that goes beyond our class assignments.
- Creative Commons. Consider adding a Creative Commons license to let others know how they can use content from your site.
- Responsive Web Design. Consider how your site looks on different screens – desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. Does it translate across devices?
Final. For the final submission of your site at the end of the semester, you should also add one last post or page (600-900 words) that reflects on your semester and the site. Your reflection should address the following prompts.
- How have you developed as a writer this semester? Where has your work been most effective this semester? Least effective? How so?
- What are the three (or more) main things you have learned about writing in digital environments? What do you enjoy most about writing in digital environments?
- Comment on your site. What have you tried to accomplish through developing its functionality and visual appeal? Is there anything you weren’t able to accomplish that you wanted to? What about your site are you most happy with, most proud of?