1.1.Choosing Your Domain Name
Choosing your domain name is the first step in getting started with staking your claim on the web. Your domain name is a unique web address (e.g. yourname.digital.brynmawr.edu) that can be used to build out your own digital presence. As you make your choice, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Your Domain Name Must Be Available: Domain names must be unique, which means in order for you to claim your own, you need to be sure that it is currently available (and not being used by any one else at Bryn Mawr). There are lots of tools to check on domain availability, and when you sign up on https://digital.brynmawr.edu, we’ll actually check the availability of your choice for you. All domains contain “.digital.brynmawr.edu,” but when you leave Bryn Mawr, you can migrate your website to another hosting account or company.
Choose a Domain You Can Live With: You should choose a domain name that you feel you can live with for quite some time. You should pick something that you won’t find embarrassing in the future. A good rule of thumb is to pick a domain that you would be comfortable putting on a future job application.
You May Wish to Include Your Name in Your Domain: There is no requirement that your domain reflect your specific identity in the form of your first and last name. However, choosing a domain name that includes your name may make it easier for you to achieve higher rankings in search engines when someone queries your real name.
Pick a Domain you Like: At the end of the day, your domain should reflect you. Pick a domain you like and are proud of. It can reflect your interests, sports you play, or your hobby. Or it could just be your name. The “right” domain for you is the one you’re comfortable with.
Reviewing the Guidelines
Before you get started, we recommend that you review our information about Choosing a Domain Name.
The Sign-Up Process
Once you’ve reviewed the guidelines, you can proceed to the sign up page.
Click the “Get Started” Button
You will be redirected to login for verification. You will use your Bryn Mawr username and password to log in.
Creating Your Free Subdomain
Enter the subdomain name you want for your Digital Bryn Mawr website. When you’ve found an available subdomain, click the button labeled Continue.
Review your subdomain and contact information. It should be your first name, last name, and Bryn Mawr email. Click Sign Up.
After you click Sign Up, you will see a page letting you know that your domain is ready. You will then be redirected to the cPanel (control panel) where you are on your way to creating your own Digital Bryn Mawr space.
What you put up in Digital Bryn Mawr space rests entirely with you. You can choose not to pick a domain that reveals your name. You can use a pseudonym on your actual site.
However, if you choose to later purchase your own domain (e.g. mysite.org), your name does get published as part of the public record about your domain name. Anyone can find it by looking up details about the ownership of that domain name through a public “Whois” request. This is NOT an issue if you’re already planning on using your name openly on your site (in your domain name or elsewhere). This option is aimed, specifically, at those who, for whatever reason, feel they want to take every precaution to hide their identity on their site.
2.1.What Can You Do with Your Account?
Your ability to do things on digital.brynmawr.edu is dictated to a large degree by the limits of your imagination. That being said, there are some technical requirements and limitations that you should be aware of and may want to review.
Here are some ideas that might help you get started:
Install a Web Application in Your Space
Digital.brynmawr.edu makes it very simple to install certain web applications. Web applications are special software that run on a web server and help you to build and manage a website. The type of site you build depends on the type of application you install. Here are some examples of applications that you can install within the Digital Bryn Mawr web hosting interface:
WordPress: WordPress is a blogging application. Installing WordPress allows you to quickly and easily set up a blog, but you can also use WordPress to set up any kind of basic website. We have resources available that are focused on installing and using WordPress.
Mediawiki: If you’ve ever browsed or edited Wikipedia, you’ve already used Mediawiki. It is the open-source wiki software that runs the online encyclopedia, and you can install it in your web space. It’s a good choice if you’re interested in publishing documents and then collaborating with others on them. We have instructions for installing Mediawiki.
ZenPhoto: This application is a good choice if you’re looking for a way to share images in your web space.
OwnCloud: If you’ve used DropBox, the concept of OwnCloud will be familiar. It allows you to upload and access files from anywhere with web access. You can also share those files and sync them to your devices.
These are just a FEW of the open-source applications that are available to you in your Digital Bryn Mawr web space. We encourage you to read more about what web applications are and which ones are available to you through this project.
Organize Your Site with Subdomains and Folders
Through this project, you’ve set a domain name that you can subdivide and organize anyway you like. One easy way to organize your domain is to create subdomains, in which you can then install other applications. In addition, you can set up subfolders for your site (which can also have their own applications installed in them). Here’s an example of how you might organize your site (using the subdomain vs. the subfolder approach)
|Subdomain Approach||Subfolder Approach|
|yourdomain.com (“root”)||Install WordPress as your “main site”||yourdomain.com (“root”)|
|course1.yourdomain.com||Install a second WordPress instance for a course you’re taking||yourdomain.com/course1|
|photos.yourdomain.com||Install ZenPhoto for a public photo gallery of your photos||yourdomain.com/photos|
|docs.yourdomain.com||Install MediaWiki for a club you belong to that wants to collaboratively edit its bylaws||yourdomain.com/docs|
|files.yourdomain.com||Install OwnCloud so you can access your files on your laptop and at work||yourdomain.com/files|
This is just an EXAMPLE of a way to organize your site and then use different sections to do different things. There is no one solution to this challenge, and what you do should be driven by what makes sense to you. To start, you may just want to install one application at the “root” of your domain, and then let the rest evolve as you get to know more about what’s possible.
Map Your Domain (or a Subdomain)
If you already have a digital presence that you’d like to pull into your digital.brynmawr.edu space, domain mapping is an option you may wish to explore. Domain mapping, simply put, is deciding where visitors should be directed when they visit various pieces of your website. Domains and subdomains can be mapped directly to folders located within your webhosting account, where you may have installed WordPress, Omeka, MediaWiki, or other web applications. Domains and subdomains can also be mapped to some third-party providers. Some services that work with domain mapping are:
When you map a domain, users who visit your URL will automatically see your space on one of these services. It’s a great way to incorporate your activity elsewhere into your domain, and it might be a good first-step if you’ve already established a presence somewhere else and just want to point your new domain to that space.
2.2.Setting Up Subdomains
A subdomain is one way of organizing and separating content on your site. To create a subdomain, use the following steps:
Login to https://digital.brynmawr.edu/dashboard/ with your Bryn Mawr username and password to access your control panel (cPanel).
Once logged in you’ll be at the homepage of your control panel. The easiest way to navigate the panel is using the main search box. Click the Search box and type “subdomains” (without the quotes). When you press enter, you will automatically be take to the Subdomains page. Or, you can scroll down and click the Subdomains button on the cPanel.
Choose a name for your subdomain and type it into the Subdomain box. Just like top-level domains (e.g. brynmawr.edu), subdomains can only contain numbers, letters, and hyphens, and the best subdomains are simple, short, and descriptive.
Once you’ve typed in a name, cPanel will automatically populate the Document root field for you. This will create a folder to contain your subdomain’s files. You’ll usually want this folder to match the name of your subdomain, so it’s easy to identify where different files live in your account. You might want to change the document root if you already have a folder in your account that has the same name as the subdomain you are trying to create, although this should be rare. Once you’re done, click Create.
Once you’re done, click Create. If everything went well, you should see a message that your subdomain was created successfully. Your subdomain will now be available as an option for automatic installation of various software (WordPress, MediaWiki, etc).
Video Tutorial & Ideas
Although your cPanel may look different, this video, from the University of Oklahoma, explains what subdomains are and how to create them.
2.3.Subdomains vs. Subdirectories
When you’re first getting started with a new space on a new web host, you might think of yourself as owning a small “territory” of the web. Everything you place in your public folder on the server becomes available for anyone on the web to see (assuming they know the address of your site).
If you’re just putting up a handful of static, HTML pages which you want to make available to colleagues, friends, or family by sending them links, then working with this large, unorganized space may work. But as soon as you get to the point where you want to organize your site, you’re going to need a new strategy.
Consider this scenario: you want to have a personal blog on your new website, where you share pictures and short written pieces with family, friends, and colleagues. In addition, you’re working on a large research project that requires you to build a web-based repository of digital images related to your discipline. You want to use one application (say, WordPress) to manage your personal blog. For your research project, you’ve settled on another open-source application (Say, Omeka). Both of these are applications that need to be installed on your web host, but you can’t just put them both at your main domain name – if you did, both sites would quickly experience conflicts and errors. You need to cordon off separate spaces for your different web “properties.”
There are two primary strategies for parceling up your web space. You can create subdomains or subdirectories. But before you can understand the difference, you need to first understand what we mean when we talk about your root domain.
Let’s say you’ve registered a new domain called yourdomain.com. Anything that is stored at this core URL is considered to be at the root of your domain: Nothing comes before the address or after the address. You can certainly decide that you simply want to have a single site on your web host (say a blog running WordPress), and you can set that blog up at your domain’s root. To get to your site in this scenario, users would simply go to yourdomain.com.
When you want to do more than just have a single site at the root of your site, you need to decide now to organize your space. One way to do so is by setting up subdomains.
You’re already familiar with the concept of subdomains, even if you don’t know it. Consider Bryn Mawr’s public website at http://www.brynmawr.edu. As you browse parts of that site, you’ll notice that the domain changes. For example, when you look at the Digital Scholarship website, the URL is no longer just brynmawr.edu. Now the root of the url is at digitalscholarship.brynmawr.edu, indicating that you’re on the part of the site that is dedicated to information on Digital Scholarship.
If you browse to the library pages at http://lits.brynmawr.edu, you’ll notice that the domain changes again, this time indicating that you’re in the library information pages of the Bryn Mawr site.
As you can see the domains serve two purposes: they help to organize the site from a technical perspective, but they also serve as indications to the users that they are in a new/different space.
As you work on your site, you’re welcome to create as many subdomains as you like, and in each subdomain you can create a distinct, individual website.
The alternative for organizing your space is to simply set up subdirectories. These function much like file folders on your computer. Instead of creating a blog at blog.yourdomain.com you would place it in a subdirectory called “blog” making the address yourdomain.com/blog. Setting up subdirectory is really easy. You can create folders on the fly when installing applications (like WordPress), and you can also manually create them in your file browser.
There is one particular issue you need to be aware of. Let’s say you’ve installed WordPress to be your primary blog at yourdomain.com. Later, you decide you want to create another image gallery site on your site, and you want to place it at yourdomain.com/gallery. But, if for some reason you’ve already created a page on your WordPress site called “Gallery” then the url yourdomain.com/gallery will already be taken. If you try to create a subdirectory of the same name, you’ll get a conflict and errors.
Tips & Review
Subdomains are generally a cleaner, more elegant solution to organizing your site. You’re less likely to get conflicts or errors. However, when using subdomains the process is slightly more complicated: You must create subdomains first, before you can install anything in them.
Subdirectories don’t create as pretty URLs as subdomains, but they’re easier to set up. They can, however, result in conflicts with existing webpages.
As soon as you create subdomains or subdirectories to organize your site, you need to consider how people are going to find them. If you’ve created a new primary blog at blog.yourdomain.com, and someone goes to just yourdomain.com, they won’t see that new site. It is possible to set up redirects to avoid this issue. You can also always create links from pages on one subdomain of your site to another.
If you really just need one site, sometimes installing at the root of your domain is the easiest thing to do, at least as you’re getting started. You can always add more pieces to your territory later with either subdomains or subdirectories.
2.4.Understanding Accounts & Passwords
One aspect of digital.brynmawr.edu that users may find a bit complicated at first is understanding the different accounts (and associated passwords) that you can manage as part of your participation in the project. This article outlines the types of accounts that you are likely to have, what they are for, and how you go about resetting passwords for each of them.
Your cPanel Account
When you first sign up for your domain and hosting, a cPanel (control panel) account will be generated that provides you with access to your slice of the digital.brynmawr.edu web server. Your cPanel account is automatically associated with your Bryn Mawr username. Therefore, your Bryn Mawr username and password will grant you access to your cPanel account.
Your Application Administrator Accounts
Every time you install a new application in cPanel, an administrator account for that application will be created. After you are logged in to your cPanel, you will need to log in a second time to the specific administrator account for an application to manage the associated website.
For example, if you install WordPress to manage your website, every time you need to add content to WordPress, change your theme, approve comments, etc. you will use your WordPress credentials to log in. If you install Scalar in a different directory, you will use the administrator account for Scalar to log in separately. Because you can install multiple applications, you should keep track of all the different administrator account credentials you will create.
Usually, you will be given the opportunity to choose the username and password for administrator accounts. We recommend choosing something that you are likely to remember but that is strong and secure.
Upon installation, you will likely receive an email confirming the user id/password combination you chose. It will also have information about how to access the login page for that application. You may wish to save this message for future reference.
Depending on the application you’re working with, managing and resetting the password for this account will vary. If you’ve used Installatron (in cPanel) to install the application, however, you can always review the account credentials:
Login to cPanel through https://digital.brynmawr.edu/dashboard
Click the Installatron icon in the Software/Services section.
Find the application you installed under My Applications.
Click the Edit button (this looks like a blue wrench).
Scroll down to find the Administrator Username and Password.
In addition, most applications should have some kind of password reset link on the login page.
Other Types of Accounts
In addition to the three account types outlined above, there are a few other kinds of accounts you may have as part of digital.brynmawr.edu:
FTP: If you want to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to upload files, you will need to set up an account via the cPanel.
Application User Accounts: In addition to the administrator account that you set up when installing an application, most applications will also let you set up user accounts. Setting up user accounts will allow you to collaborate with colleagues without giving them access to your cPanel.
2.5.What Exactly is a Web Application?
In the most general terms, a web application is software that runs on a web server. A web server is a designated computer set up to host webpages. When installed, web applications create an environment that allow users to build websites.
Most web applications are comprised of two components: files and a database. When you install a web application, you will need to make sure all of the files are copied over into the appropriate location AND that a database (and database user) has been set up to connect to those files. Often, you will have to do some configuration to make sure the application knows how to access the database.
The system we use for digital.brynmawr.edu uses a special script installer called Installatron (in cPanel) that allows you to automatically install dozens of open source applications. When you use Installatron, you don’t need to worry about moving files, creating databases, or doing the initial configuration. It’s all taken care of for you.
WordPress is an open-source publishing platform that can be used for setting up a blog or basic website. It is one of the most popular publishing platforms on the web. Setting up a WordPress install on your own domain can be done by following these simple steps:
Once logged at https://digital.brynmawr.edu/dashboard/ you’ll be at the homepage of your cPanel (control panel). Look in the first section, Applications, then click the WordPress button.
This page gives you more information about the WordPress software. To begin the install click Install this Application in the upper-righthand corner.
On the next page the installer will ask for some information about this install. The first thing you’ll want to decide is where to install it. For example, you could install it in a subdomain you have created by selecting it from the dropdown menu. You also have the option of installing WordPress in a subfolder by typing in the folder name in the Directory field. Click here for more information about subdomains and subdirectories.
By default the installer will automatically backup your website and update it anytime a new version comes out. While we recommend you keep this option, it is possible to complete only minor updates, or turn them off completely. The installer will also create a database for you automatically, but if you’ve already created one for this website you can choose Let me manage the database settings and enter the details. Finally, you’ll need to create an initial username and password for the WordPress install. Enter that information in the final section and click Install.
The installer will take just a few moments to install WordPress and a progress bar will keep you updated. When it is complete you will see a link to your new WordPress site as well as a link to the backend administrative section for your WordPress site.
If you would prefer to use a video tutorial, please see this one created by the University of Oklahoma. Be aware that the layout of their cPanel may not match the one available at digital.brynmawr.edu.
Congratulations, you’ve now installed WordPress! Now you can start customizing it with themes, plugins, and more.
General Settings: Title and Tagline
Now that you have your WordPress installed and running, it’s time to look at some basic settings for your site. The place that you will access the settings for your site is called the Dashboard, and it provides the starting point for accessing all of your sites dials and knobs. You can access your Dashboard by adding “/wp-admin” to your WordPress site’s URL.
To change your blog “title” and “tagline,” go to Settings > General. Once you’re on the General Settings page, you can give your blog any title you want. You can also give your blog a tagline, which can be a short description of the blog.
Depending on what theme you use, the title and tagline will show up in various places. In the case of some themes, they might not show up at all depending on whether they allow custom configurations. We won’t worry about that for now. If you use the default theme (currently “Twenty Seventeen”), the blog title and tagline at the bottom center of the site.
There are more settings on the General Settings page, such as setting the administrative email account, time zone, date format, etc. Change those to whatever is appropriate for your site and geographical location.
When it comes to WordPress, customizing the look of your site is simple and straightforward. When you install WordPress, the default (or pre-set) theme is called Twenty Seventeen (as of WordPress version 4.8.1). It is a very customizable theme. You can also easily modify the colors of the different fonts and backgrounds used in the theme.
In addition to Twenty Seventeen, you’ll have other themes available to you. If Twenty Seventeen doesn’t meet your needs, you can activate another theme on your site or install a completely new one.
Start at your WordPress site’s Dashboard.
Navigate to Appearance > Themes in the lefthand menu navigation. You will see “Themes” after mousing over “Appearance.” Click on “Themes.”
You will see thumbnail images representing each of the themes currently installed. Simply mouse over any one of them, and click the Activate link.
That’s all you need to do to change the look of your site with a new theme. Themes can be further customized after activation by going to Appearance > Customize. Customization options will vary with the installed theme.
If none of the themes that were provided when you installed WordPress are what you’re looking for, you can always search for and install other themes from the WordPress Theme Repository.
Navigate to Appearance > Themes in the lefthand menu navigation. You will see “Themes” after mousing over “Appearance.” Click on “Themes.”
Installing new themes is quite simple. You start by going to the Add New Button.
When you mouse over the thumbnail picture of a theme three choices should appear: Install, Preview, and Details & Preview. Preview lets you see what your content would look like without committing you to installing the theme. Details & Preview does the same, but allows you to see the description of the theme while previewing. Click Install to add a new theme to your theme menu options.
Once the theme is installed, an Activate button will appear in place of the Install button. Click Activate to make the theme live.
Once activated, your site will be using the new theme. Visit your site’s homepage to view your new theme.
The primary activity that you’re likely to be doing on your WordPress site is publishing content. The content could be text you write, pictures you take, video or audio files (which may be hosted on another site), or other media that you’ve found elsewhere on the web. WordPress makes it very easy to publish media content of all types, whether hosted on your actual web server or elsewhere.
Posts vs Pages
Out of the box, WordPress provides two primary content types for you two work with: posts and pages. If you read blogs or have ever written for a blog before, the concept of a post is probably a bit familiar. Posts often are content that appear on your blog in some kind of scheduled way. They usually are presented on your site in reverse-chronological order. Posts might be what you use to share your regular reflections, ideas, or assignments. Posts make up a kind of “river” of content that you’re producing as part of your blogging activity. To add a new post, visit your site’s dashboard, hover over “Posts” in the left sidebar, and select Add New.
Pages usually correspond to our more traditional concept of what makes up a website. Pages are presented outside of the “river” of content that are posts. They are more likely to stand alone and be organized according to a traditional hierarchy. Pages might be content that is less frequently updated or changed. To add a new page, visit your site’s dashboard, hover over “Pages” in the left sidebar, and select Add New.
If you were using WordPress to build a business website with a lot of information content, you would probably use Pages. If you added a feature to that site where you started to advertise special events or news, you would probably use Posts.
A few other things to know about Pages vs Posts:
If you want your content to be accessible to your users via a feed (RSS/syndication), you’ll need to use Posts. By default, Pages do not appear in a site’s RSS feed.
Categories and Tags (which are used in WordPress to help you organize your content) are ONLY available on Posts by default. Page organization is done through customizing your site’s menus.
WordPress, by default, also creates “Category Pages” and “Tag Pages” that display all the Posts in a category or tag. These are NOT related to the regular Page type.
Recent versions of WordPress have a new “post format” feature that will style the appearance of your posts according to the format you select. Basically, if you plan to post an image, you will probably prefer a layout that best accommodates your image. Ditto for video, quotes, links, etc. Specific format options are optimized for displaying different types of content. Changing the post format will not change the content of a post; it will only affect how users see it. You must be using a theme that has this feature enabled to use “post format.” If you have a relevant theme activated, some of the formats you may see on the right sidebar when editing a post include:
aside – Similar to a Facebook note update.
gallery – A gallery of images.
link – A link to another site.
image – A single image.
quote – A quotation.
status – A short status update, similar to a Twitter status update.
video – A single video.
audio – An audio file.
chat – A chat transcript.
Those of you familiar with Tumblr may recognize this approach to post formats.
Many older themes do not recognize post formats. You can view the details of your activated theme in the Appearance > Themes menu to determine whether or not your current theme has this functionality.
Upon occasion, you may want to include media (images, audio, video) in your site’s posts and pages. How your users will access your files is something to keep in mind when adding media to your site. There are generally two approaches to handling media in WordPress, each with different advantages:
Uploading: You can upload the files into your site’s Media Gallery and then link to them in your posts/pages. This works very well for images, and when you take this approach for images, you have the added benefit of being able to make use of WordPress’s built in (albeit rudimentary) editing tools. Also, when you upload images to WordPress, it automatically creates different sizes that you can use, as needed.
To upload an image to your WordPress site, visit your site’s dashboard, hover over “Media” in the left sidebar, and select Add New.
Uploading files may not be the best approach to displaying audio and video content. In order to have your media files actually show up in a “player” (with controls for stopping, pausing, etc.) you’ll need to install a plugin (add-on software that increases the versatility of your theme). Otherwise, you’ll only be able to include links to the files. Without a plugin, the ways people view/listen to these files will depend on the setup on their own computer and browser. They may, for example, have to download the media file and then open it in another program on their computer.
Embedding: You can embed video and audio from many external services (YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, etc.) by simply placing the full URL of the audio/video location on its own line in your post or page. Embedding an image just means providing a URL to its location elsewhere on the web. Instead of uploading it to the server, WordPress grabs that image from the external source and displays it on your post or page. However, with this approach you lose your editing capabilities as well as the resizing feature.
There is a complete list of supported external services, and you can learn more about embedding at the WordPress site. Our general advice is to use externally hosted media whenever it makes sense and works. For example, you may want to use externally hosted media for audio or video because, without installing plugins, well-presented audio and video in WordPress is tricky to manage. For images, if you need to do basic editing and/or require different sizes of images, upload them to your site. Otherwise, consider referencing them from another location (your Flickr account, for example).
Building Your Custom Menu
Start at your site’s Dashboard and choose Appearance > Menus.
In the Custom Menus interface that appears, type a name for your menu. This can be anything you want. It doesn’t get displayed anywhere; it’s used by WordPress to identify and place your menu. Once you’ve typed the name, click Create Menu.
You’ll now be presented with a screen that includes a section titled Menu Settings. This is where you’ll indicate where you want your menu to appear in your theme. The number of locations available depends on the theme you choose. In the example shown below, there are two areas available; we’ve chosen to place the menu in the Top primary menu area which we know corresponds to the header menu. You may need to experiment a bit in order to find out where your menu will appear in your theme.
You can always change this location later by coming back here and clicking the Manage Locations tab.
Now that you’ve set up your menu and assigned it to a location, you can begin to add links to it. On the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll see what content is available to add. On the right-hand side of the screen, in the Menu Structure area, you can arrange and organize your links.
By default, you may not see everything that is available to you to add to your menu. For example, posts can be added to menus, but they’re not usually displayed by default. To make more content available, click the Screen Options tab at the top of your WordPress screen, and then click off the check boxes that correspond to additional content.
To add content to your menu, simply check it off on the left, and click the Add to Menu button.
Your new content will appear on the right, and you can drag items in the order you want them to appear. Drag items to the right to indent them under other items. This will usually make them appear as drop-down items in your menu.
You can add custom links to your menu by clicking the Links section on the left. In the short form that appears, enter your link’s URL, and text for the link. Click Add to Menu to move it to the left.
Note that you can change the link text of any item you add to your menu. This can be helpful if you have a page with a long title, and you’d like the link to not take up so much space. You can abbreviate the title in the Navigation Label section (found by selecting the arrow to the right of the menu item), and that shorter text will become the actual menu link.
When you are done, make sure you click Save Menu.
Other Notes about Menus
When you add a Category or Tag to a menu, the link will take your readers to an archive of all the posts on your site that use that category or tag. This can be a very useful feature for organizing your content when you’re using posts to share your work.
In addition to assigning Custom Menus to theme areas, there is a default Custom Menu widget that you can put in the sidebar of your site. This is useful for creating smaller, customized navigation for your site.
Reading Settings – Front Page
WordPress is a very flexible platform for creating full-blown websites, not just blogging sites. This page will show you how to change the “front page” of your website.
As we have said before, WordPress provides two primary content types for you two work with: Posts and Pages. Posts, as in blog posts, are a somewhat complex form of webpage. Each blog post gets published in reverse chronological order, on the front page of a WordPress site. Pages, are a more static form of content. They are additional areas to put information that doesn’t change much. So what if you would like your front page to feature page content instead of blog posts?
Start at the Dashboard.
Navigate to Settings > Reading.
The front page displays your latest blog posts by default. You may also select a Page from the website to serve as your front page. This page has to exist before you can select it. Select the “A static page” radio button and choose the About page from the Front page drop-down menu (an About page was created for you when you installed WordPress).
Click the Save Changes button and now you will have the About page as your Front page. Edit it as you see fit and provide a good welcoming page for your visitors. But wait. What will happen to your blog posts?
First, create a new Page and title it Blog (you can title it whatever you want but Blog is common and descriptive). Leave the page blank (don’t type any text in the edit box) and Publish it. Now go back to Settings > Reading. Under the static page area choose Blog from the Posts page drop-down.
Click the Save Changes button. Now your “home” page will actually display the About page. You will also have a Blog item in your menu (depending on your theme, you may have to customize your page display to see pages).
If you click on the Blog menu item when on the public side of your website, you will see your blog posts. Notice the /blog added to the web address.
Part of the popularity of WordPress is how easily it makes a website functional and yet attractive. One of the smaller details that you might want to adjust is how the addresses to your blog posts are structured. Permalink is the name given to the address of an individual blog post because they are “permanent links.” To change the permalink structure, start by going to the Dashboard.
Next, go to Settings > Permalinks.
As you can see, there are several choices under Common Settings. A popular choice is to use the Post name choice, which is a bit more informative. So our post titled “Installing WordPress” would have an address of “http://digital.brynmawr.edu/docs/installing-wordpress.”
If you want to have the date as part of the address, you can choose Day and name or Month and name. You can also change the structure of category and tag names under the Optional section.
Finally, when you write a blog post, you have the option of editing the permalink for an individual post. Just click the Edit button (underneath the Title field).
Then type in your preferred permalink (remembering that URLs must be unique). Generally you want to make it as simple and short as possible.
Widgets are a more advanced feature of WordPress that allow you even more control over the content on your site. In essence, widgets are small containers of content that can be placed in various areas of your site. Where you can place widgets depends entirely on the theme you are using. Many (most) themes include at least one “sidebar” into which you can place widgets. Some themes include additional “widgetized” areas. The best way to find out what areas are available to you is to go to Appearance > Widgets and take a look at the areas listed on the right. Each widgetized area will appear as a box on the right. In the example shown below, the theme contains three widgetized areas: Blog Sidebar, Footer 1, and Footer 2.
To the left of this area, you will see a number of widgets available to you. WordPress comes with default widgets installed. Other widgets may become available when you have a particular theme activated. Additionally, some plugins (see section on plugins below) may expand the number of widgets you have access to.
Widgets can present all different kinds of information. The simplest widgets allow you to add text to your site. But you’ll also find widgets with many options that you can set to display dynamic content or to interact with other services. Below is a list of the default widgets available in WordPress.
When you’re ready to start using widgets, all you need to do is drag them from the left-hand side of the Widgets interface into the boxes on the right. WordPress will immediately save them, but you may need to set some options.
Archives: Shows a monthly listing of your posts.
- Audio: Displays an audio player.
Calendar: Shows a calendar view of your posts.
Categories: Shows a list of all of the categories on your site.
- Custom HTML: Arbitrary HTML code.
Custom Menu: Add a custom menu to your sidebar.
- Image: Displays an image.
Links: Shows your links.
Meta: Shows links to your RSS feed and your login.
Pages: Shows a menu of all of your pages.
Recent Comments: Shows the most recent comments on your posts.
Recent Posts: Shows your most recent posts.
RSS: Allows you to show content from an RSS feed.
Search: Provides your users with a search box.
Tag Cloud: Shows a “cloud” of the tags/categories on your site.
Text: Shows whatever text you enter.
- Video: Displays a video from the media library or external host.
WordPress has a lot of functionality built in, but occasionally you might find a specific need that isn’t a part of the default software. To accomplish this, WordPress has a plugin architecture where developers can create plugins that add additional functionality to WordPress sites. From simple photo galleries to site statistics, to automatic Twitter and Facebook sharing of posts, there is practically a plugin for whatever you need for your blog (over 51,000 at the time of this writing). To start using and installing plugins just follow these simple instructions:
Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
From the left side menu locate and click plugins.
You will be given a list of all your currently installed plugins.
From this menu you are able to activate and disable specified plugins by using either the single plugin options located under each plugin name.- Or you may use the bulk action drop down menu to simultaneously activate/disable multiple plugins by checking desired plugins
– Additionally you may also sort through installed plugins using the sorting options above the bulk action menu.
To install a new plugin click “add new” either from the plugin sidebar or the main plugin menu, you will then be redirected to a search engine where you can search using general or specific terms to find plugins. – For example searching “photo gallery” brings up various plugins from different developers.
Once you find your desired plugin to install it hit “install now”, which will automatically install the plugin and prompt you if you would like to activate it now or return to the menu.
After installing your plugin be sure to visit the developers’ website if you have any additional questions about how the plugin works, as some plugins may require certain codes or other actions to be used properly.
Some plugins will have their own settings page located under the
'Settings‘, other plugins will break out their own menu item on the lefthand side of the Dashboard. The best way to understand how to use a plugin is to make sure you’ve read the documentation available on the plugin’s website as every plugin behaves differently and sometimes it won’t be explicit how the plugin interacts with your website.
WordPress is a platform intended to allow you to share your thoughts and ideas freely and easily with the world. However, there are options to publish to a more limited audience.
The first way is to limit who can find your website. That is done by keeping search engines, like Google, from seeing (known as indexing) your site.
To do this, we’ll start at the Dashboard.
Navigate to Settings > Reading.
Normally the box next to Search Engine Visibility is unchecked. If you decide to check the box, it will “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.” It will depend on the search engine to honor your “request.” Some search engines will simply ignore it. Obviously this is not a sure-fire way of keeping your blog private.
You also have options on individual posts to keep them private, so that only people who are logged in to your site can view a given post. You can also password protect posts with a password you supply. Choose the Private radio button to keep a post hidden behind the login, or choose the Password protected button and then type in the password you wish to use. Click on OK when you are finished. Then be sure you click the Update button to save your post with the new settings.
There is a plugin called More Privacy Options that allows you to fine-tune privacy settings on your site.
What makes WordPress a powerful platform is that not only can you create a dynamic website, but you can also allow dynamic discussions about the content with your visitors. However, comments, the bread and butter of discussions, can add to the overhead of your website management. You have to keep up with responses to your commenters or they will think you aren’t paying attention. Comments also can come, unfortunately, in the form of Spam. We will give you some additional information about dealing with Spam in another section. For now, here’s how to manage your Discussion Settings.
Start at the Dashboard.
Navigate to Settings > Discussion
The two main forms of discussion on a website are: “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)” and “Allow people to post comments on new articles.”
Comments are self-explanatory. People come to your website, read an article, and as long as you allow comments, people can write whatever is on their mind. Commenters must leave their name and email address (if you leave that setting checked). You can also require users to be registered to your site to comment. They would then need to be logged in to submit any comments. By default you will get an email sent to the admin account of the WordPress site when someone posts a comment, or when a comment is held in moderation. You can uncheck those boxes if you do not wish to receive those emails.
A comment will appear on the article (post or page) only after you approve it. If you have approved a comment author once, they will be automatically approved the next time they leave a comment on your site. If you uncheck the box labeled “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”, then all comments will appear automatically. We don’t recommend this setting.
You also have some control over comment moderation regarding how many links a comment contains (spammers like to put links in their “comments”). You also can filter out words, URLs, email addresses, to hold them in moderation. You can then approve them, spam them, or trash them.
There are also forms of discussion called link notifications. Spammers like these too. Here’s an article on the What, Why, and How-To’s of Trackbacks and Pingbacks in WordPress.
Sometimes it’s nice to have visual representations of the people who are commenting on your blog. These are called Avatars and can be found under Settings > Discussion.
WordPress uses a common universal system of avatars called Gravatars (Globally Recognized Avatars). The system requires you to sign up with your email address. You can upload a graphical representation of yourself (a picture or other graphic). From then on you are identified with your Gravatar on any blog that you use that email address with.
In the WordPress Discussion Settings, you have a few options. Whether to show Avatars at all, the “rating” allowed to be shown, and what the default Avatar will be if a user does not have a Gravatar.
Managing Comment Spam with Akismet
SPAM! Everyone hates it in their email. If you’re new to WordPress and blogging platforms, spam exists in the form of comment spam – people (or bots) leave comments promoting their services or schemes, on a post or page.
So how do you deal with comment spam when it can come in even more often than email spam? Do you have to delete every comment that comes in? Well, the answer to the second question is “no,” and the answer to the first question is, with a plugin called Akismet.
To get started we need to activate a plugin. To do this, we’ll start at the Dashboard.
Navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins.
At or near the top of the list of plugins that are automatically installed in a new WordPress installation, is Akismet. It is not activated, so part of the process of getting Akismet is Activating the plugin. Before you activate it, however, you need to get an API key. API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it’s a way for programs and services to “talk” to each other. The Akismet plugin requires you to get an Akismet API Key, which is simply a “code” that you supply when activating the plugin. The key is free if you use it on a personal WordPress installation, and it’s available on the Akismet website.
Once you arrive on the Akismet for WordPress site, click the Get an Akismet API key button.
If you have an account at WordPress.com you can sign in with that login and get your key. Otherwise, fill in an email address, a username, and a password to use for a new account. Click the Sign up button to proceed.
Type in the URL of the site you’ll use Akismet on and click on the Sign Up button under the Personal plan (that is if you want it to be the free version). When you get to the next page, the recommended contribution is $36. You can adjust the slider down to $0. The smiley face will begin to frown, but at least your key will be free.
Also fill in your name and click Continue.
You’re finished with the sign up process for your key, and it will be displayed on the page for you (we’ve blurred ours out). Now follow the steps that they show you for using your new key. You will enter the key in either the Akismet area under Plugins or JetPack (if you have that installed).
MediaWiki is an open-source publishing platform that can be used for creating a collaborative document repository. It’s the software that drives the Wikipedia website. Setting up a MediaWiki install on your own domain can be done by following these steps:
To get started you’ll need to login to your control panel (https://digital.brynmawr.edu/dashboard/) using your Bryn Mawr username and password.
- Once logged in you’ll be at the homepage of your control panel. Navigate to the All Applications section of the cPanel. Click on the link. This will bring up a menu with various applications you can install.
- Then find and select MediaWiki. You will find it under “Apps for Community Building.”
- The next page gives you more information about the MediaWiki software. To begin the install, click install this application in the upper right-hand corner.
- On the next page the installer will ask for some information about this install. The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where to install the application. If you want to install MediaWiki on your main (the root) domain, you can leave the directory area empty. If you created a subdomain, you can select it from the dropdown menu. You also have the option of installing MediaWiki in a subfolder by typing in the folder name in the Directory field. Click here for more information about subdomains and subfolders.
- Configure your backup options. By default the installer will automatically backup your MediaWiki website and update it anytime a new version comes out. While we recommend you keep this option, it is possible to only do minor updates, or turn them off completely. The installer will also create a database for you automatically, but if you’ve already created one for this website you can choose Let me manage the database settings and enter the details.
- Finally, you’ll need to create an initial username and password for the MediaWiki install. A random username and password are generated for you, but we strongly encourage you to pick something you will remember and is secure. Once you have entered this information, click Install.
- The installer will take just a few moments to install MediaWiki and a progress bar will keep you updated. When it is complete you will see a link to your new MediaWiki site as well as a link to the back end administrative section for your MediaWiki site.
Additional documentation about how to use this application can be found at the official MediaWiki Help Pages. Here you will find information pertaining to all aspects of your wiki, including customizing its appearance, editing content, and changing user settings.
Omeka is an open-source web application that can be used to create and display online digital collections. Developed by programmers at George Mason University, Omeka was designed to be user-friendly, both during installation and setup and during daily usage. To install Omeka, use these simple steps:
To get started you’ll need to login to your control panel (https://digital.brynmawr.edu/dashboard/) using your Bryn Mawr username and password.
Once logged in you’ll be at the homepage of your control panel. Navigate to the Web Applications section of the cPanel and find Featured Applications. Then select Omeka.
On the next page the installer will ask for some information about this install. The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where to install it. If you’d like to install Omeka on your main domain, you can leave the directory area empty. If you created a subdomain, you can select it from the dropdown menu. You also have the option of installing Omeka in a subfolder by typing in the folder name in the Directory field. Click here for more information about subdomains and subfolders.
By default the installer will automatically backup your website and update it anytime a new version comes out. While we recommend you keep these options, it is possible to only do minor updates, or turn them off completely.
In Settings, you’ll need to enter your name, email, and password. This is the username and password you’ll use to login to Omeka.
The installer will create a database for you automatically, but if you’ve already created one for this website you can choose “Let me manage the database settings” and enter the details.
Finally, click Install.
The installer will take just a few moments to install Omeka and a progress bar will keep you updated. When it is complete you will see a link to your new Omeka site as well as a link to the backend administrative section for your Omeka site. Click the link that ends in “/admin” to log in to your Omeka site.
Enter your username and password to login to the site.
Installing Omeka Plugins
There are a variety of plugins that enable additional functionality in Omeka. All the plugins available for Omeka and their descriptions can be found on this page.
To install an Omeka plugin you have downloaded as a zip file, open up your cPanel Dashboard and click on the File Manager. You can find the File Manager under ‘Files’ or by typing “File Manager” in the upper right search bar.
Go to the public_html > omeka > plugins folder by clicking on the folder icons in the file menu, or by typing “public_html/omeka/plugins” into the navigation bar at the top and clicking ‘Go’.
Next you will need to upload the the plugin zip file into the plugins folder. Select the Upload option in the top menu to open up a new tab where you can upload the file. When the upload is complete, click the ‘Go back to home/yourdomain/public_html/omeka/plugins’ link at the bottom of the page to return to the File Manager. You will see that the zip file has appeared in the plugins folder.
Make sure the zip file is selected (it should be highlighted in blue), then click Extract from the menu at the top of the page. A small window will open up to confirm where the file will be extracted to. If you were in the plugins folder, it should say public_html/omeka/plugins, if not, type that into the box before you hit Extract File(s).
Another window will open that outlines the contents of the file. Just hit the Close button and the installation will be complete.
The plugin should now be available in the plugins tab in your Omeka.
To install the plugin on your Omeka site, select “Plugins” then the green “Install” button. You may be asked to configure additional settings for the plugin.
You can learn how to use this application in the official Omeka Support Documentation. This support guide will help you get started and begin creating your Omeka site.
Scalar is a content management system with the idea of creating non-linear books on the web.
To get started, login to the Digital Bryn Mawr page with your Bryn Mawr username and password. Once you’ve logged in, go to the Dashboard.
Navigate to the Application section and select Scalar. If Scalar is not visible, you can use the search function to locate it.
When you click on the Scalar icon, you will be taken to the Scalar information page. Click install this application.
On the next page the installer will ask for some information about this install. The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where to install it. If you’d like to install Scalar on your main domain, you can leave the directory area empty. If you created a subdomain, you can select it from the dropdown menu. You also have the option of installing Scalar in a subfolder by typing in the folder name in the Directory field. Click here for more information about subdomains and subfolders.
In the version section, select the most resent version. By default the installer will automatically backup your website and update it anytime a new version comes out. While we recommend you keep this option, it is possible to only do minor updates, or turn them off completely. The installer will also create a database for you automatically, but if you’ve already created one for this website you can choose “Let me manage the database settings” and enter the details.
Finally, in Settings, you’ll need to enter your name, email, and password, then click Install.
Once the installer is finished loading, you will be taken to the My Apps section of the dashboard. Here you’ll find links to login to your Scalar site.
Creating a book
To get started in Scalar, you will need to create a book. Log in to Scalar using the email and password you set up during the installation process.
Go to the top right corner and click, Dashboard.
Select the My Account tab and, at the bottom of the page, type in a Title for you book. Don’t worry this title can be changed later if needed. Click Create.
From there you will be able to build your Scalar book. We recommend visiting the Scalar guide for more support information. Scalar is fully supported at Bryn Mawr. For more information, or to set up a consultation or workshop, contact digitalscholarship[at]brynmawr. Scalar is fully supported at Bryn Mawr.