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This tutorial will show you step-by-step how to build a great web site like the one at this link: http://testing.blogs.rice.edu. I guess what’s great is in the eye of the beholder, but I bet it’s less like a blog and more like a professionally-designed Rice web site than you thought it would be.

    1. Create your site.
      1. Visit http://blogs.rice.edu/wp-signup.php.
      2. If you have already signed in, it will ask for a hostname to use (e.g. whateveryoupick.blogs.rice.edu) and a name for your site (e.g. “My new web site”).
      3. Or, if you have to sign in, you’ll be sent to your control panel.  Just click Dashboard and then ‘Create a Site.’
    2. Change its theme.
      1. Visit the blog you created.
      2. Sign in and/or click the Site Admin link.
      3. Click the ‘Appearance’ button on the left menu.
      4. Click the ‘Rice University Ultra Nice’ theme’s picture.
      5. Click ‘Activate “Rice University Ultra Nice”‘ on the upper right.
      6. Click the ‘Header’ button on the ‘Appearance’ menu to upload a custom banner image of 940 x 135 pixels.
      7. Web Services provides numerous images of the correct size at http://www.rice.edu/template although many of them need editing in a program like Photoshop or GraphicConverter to add the name of your site.
      8. If your banner image has a title on it, click ‘Theme Options’ on the ‘Appearance’ menu to turn off the title display underneath the banner image.
    3. Add some sidebar widgets.
      1. Having opened the ‘Appearance’ sub-menu on the left side of the control panel, click ‘Widgets’.
      2. Click the ‘Add’ link for Pages, Links, Archives, and Text.
      3. If they aren’t in that order, drag and drop the blue bars on the right of the screen until they are.
      4. On the ‘Pages’ blue bar on the right, click ‘Edit’ and then “Sort by: ‘Page Order’” and then ‘Done.’
      5. On the ‘Archives’ blue bar on the right, click ‘Edit’ and then enter ‘News Archives’ as a title. Select ‘Display as a drop down,’ and then click ‘Done.’
      6. On the ‘Text’ blue bar on the right, click ‘Edit’ and then enter ‘Contact Information’ into the top input area (the title).
      7. Put your name and address into the larger input area. For each line of contact information, except the last, put this tag at the end of the line: <br />
      8. Click the ‘Done’ link for the ‘Text’ widget, and then click the ‘Save Changes’ button.
    4. Upload some media.
      1. Click the ‘Media’ button on the left menu of the control panel.
      2. Click the ‘Add New’ link on the ‘Media’ sub-menu.
      3. Click ‘Select Files’ and browse on your computer to the files you’d like to upload.
      4. Note that you can select multiple files at once–they’ll all be uploaded.
      5. Also note that there is a 10M limit on your media library, so try to be selective and make sure your images are well-compressed for the web.
      6. For each file you’ve uploaded, click ‘Show’ and assign titles, captions, and descriptions.
    5. Create some links.
      1. Click the ‘Links’ button on the left menu of the control panel.
      2. Click the ‘Add New’ link on the ‘Links’ sub-menu.
      3. Enter the title for your link (e.g. “Department Homepage”).
      4. Enter the URL for your link (e.g. http://yourdepartment.rice.edu).
      5. Click the ‘Add Link’ button on the right side of the page.
      6. Repeat adding links for every site or document you want to link to directly–that is, anything that isn’t a blog page or article.
      7. If you uploaded your CV as a PDF in your media library, you can find a direct link to it by clicking the ‘Media’ button on the left menu of the control panel, clicking the ‘View’ link beside the document, and right-clicking (or control-clicking) the link presented somewhere in the middle of the viewing page (not the browser location bar!). Once you’ve right-clicked (or control-clicked), select the option that copies the link. The link will have a format like ‘http://bands.blogs.rice.edu/files/2010/04/application-individual-2010_11.pdf’. Come back to your site’s control panel by clicking the ‘Site Admin’ link on the bottom left of the page, and click the ‘Links’ button on the left menu to resume creating links.
    6. Create some pages.
      1. Click the ‘Pages’ button on the left menu of the control panel.
      2. Mouse over the ‘About’ page created by default and click its ‘Delete’ link to remove it.
      3. Click the ‘Add New’ button on the ‘Pages’ sub-menu.
      4. Enter a title for your main page, such as ‘Welcome,’ and enter some text for the page.
      5. On the bottom right, enter a number that will be used for putting this page into its proper order. I recommend using 0 for the main page, but increments of 10 for each other page, so that it will be easy to re-sort or to put new pages into place later.
      6. Click the ‘Publish’ button on the right of the page.
      7. Go ahead and create pages for things like Research, Publications, Group Members, Prospective Students, Courses, and News, but don’t worry about entering content right now. You can re-edit pages easily later, once you’ve played around and decided on an information architecture. You can also publish sub-pages by choosing the ‘Parent’ page on the right hand of the page editing screen–the child pages will be shown in a proper hierarchy on your sidebar!
      8. Note that you really need to create a Welcome or Home page as well as create a News or Recent News page. It’s essential for the next and final step.
    7. Turn your blog into a web site.
      1. So far, your primary site page has been a blog page. Now, we’re going to make your primary site page a content page.
      2. Click the ‘Settings’ button on the left menu of the control panel.
      3. Change the Tagline of your blog to something meaningful–e.g. a five-word description of your research or the name of your endowed chair.
      4. Click the ‘Save Changes’ button.
      5. Click the ‘Reading’ button on the ‘Settings’ sub-menu on the left of the control panel.
      6. Select ‘Front page displays: “A static page.”‘
      7. Select ‘Front page: “Welcome.”‘
      8. Select ‘Posts page: “News.”‘
      9. Click ‘Save Changes.’
      10. Email Web Services to ask for a hostname with the same name as your blog (i.e. x.blogs.rice.edu becomes x.rice.edu).
    8. Connect to the world!
      1. Once you’ve had Web Services remove the ‘.blogs.’ from your site name, make sure your privacy settings (under Settings > Privacy) allow search engines to read your site, and then visit these forms: submit your site to Google and submit your site to Bing.  Actually, it’s OK to submit a ‘.blogs.’ site name instead, but you might prefer the shorter name be how you’re known in Google.
      2. To track your incoming page visits, hook up Google Analytics under the Settings menu.  You’ll need to get your own Google Analytics account and then extract a unique ID from the code Google gives you.  Don’t plug all of Google’s code into your Analytics settings–just the ID.
      3. Hook up Facebook and OpenGraph.  Under Settings, you can define your site’s OpenGraph properties.  That controls what it looks like on Facebook when someone “Likes” you or shares a link to your site.  Once that’s done, add a Facebook recommendation widget to your menu.  It’s located under ‘Appearance’ > ‘Widgets.’  Visit step 3 above for more details about a widget-based sidebar, because you have to construct the whole sidebar that way–you lose the default sidebar once you add any widget.

Congratulations, you now have a pretty great web site.

Fill in the content and let people know about the site!

Addendum: more on banner images

Here’s a little more detail about adding a banner image.  Visit Appearance > Header on your dashboard to change the header image for any site that uses the default Rice theme.  If your image is not exactly 940 x 135 pixels in size, you will be given the opportunity to crop it.  If you save an image and attempt to replace it with an image with the same name, a commonly observed issue is that the old image will still be cached for a time.  But if you delete the old image from your media library and upload a new version (or simply upload a new version of the image under a different name), it will eventually work for you.