Post #1 – On Making this Website

Well if you are reading this it is because I am finally satisfied with the set-up of our website and felt ready to present it to the public and all the people I keep telling about it.

This is my first website and I have learned a lot, some of which I thought I would share here for those contemplating making their own website. I know this is supposed to be about the boat, and our adventures, but so far my adventure has mostly involved this site and sewing, so we’ll start here.

Making a website is surprisingly easy. WordPress, who hosts this site, is easy to set up and get started on and has a fabulous set of introductory lessons and help files, and a basic site is FREE. To create a blog/website all you have to do is go to WordPress.com, select your sitename, choose a theme and hit go.

So what is a Theme? This is the design of the website. Does it have one column of text? Two columns? A photo header? What fonts are used? What colours are used? Certain aspects of a theme are set and cannot be changed, others, such as fonts and colours can. Also available are upgrades to enable you to make even more changes using code, these upgrades do cost money though.
Overall, once you have the theme you want, you can make a couple of pages (eg. the Heart’s Desire and About Us pages on this site). Pages are designs that stay in one place and don’t move around or update (unless you update them).

The option other than a Page is a Post, like this one! These are more of a journal entry. They automatically show up on a designated Page (for us this is “Home”). You can enable other contributors (in this case Matt), post up photos, movies, anything you like. It can also be set up to post automatically by sending an e-mail of the text to the address of your site. Pretty fancy.

So the reason I’ve taken a while getting this site up is because I wanted to change the way our theme looked a little, and this involved using some code. When I first heard the term “code” I assumed numbers and letters creating some kind of foreign language. The idea was not something I was particularly interested in having to decipher. I figured if I was going to learn a language, Spanish would be more useful (especially for when we get south with this boat of ours!)… But turns out the two “languages” I need for this site are much easier (I think) than trying to learn Spanish. In web design (as far as wordpress.com is concerned) there are two “Languages”. These are HTML and CSS. You likely recognize the HTML from the end of may web addresses. This “language” is sort of like turning on the formatting view in a Word document or the like. You enter your text and things as you usually would, but instead of hitting enter to skip a line, you enter codes for paragraph breaks, font emphasis (italics, bold, colour), indents etc.. With WordPress you don’t ever have to use HTML, you can simply enter the text like you would in a word processor and use their buttons to add these things, but if you are very specific about what you want you can go to the “text” view which shows you (some of) the html code. You don’t really have to learn the code to use the basics because all the terms are easily searched online.

CSS, as I mentioned is the design code of the webpage. Things like the colour of the page title, the width of the columns, are controlled with this code. Changing CSS in WordPress requires an upgrade, but if you’re picky is well worth it.

Well I have not been very specific here, but I will perhaps write another post about this later if there are questions. How did your first webpage turn out? Any suggestions for a newbie web-designer-in-training?

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