This is the first of two versions of a professional web site that you will create in this course, each of which will be designed within the confines of a specific WordPress.org theme. For the first installation, each student will use the the same theme. For the second installation, each student will choose their own theme.
The theme we will be using is the WPFolio theme—a “free and open source theme for WordPress designed by artists specifically for visual artists. Visual artists who have a range of experience with the web (from none, to lots).” Though the theme was created for visual artists, it provides many of the attributes necessary for writers who also wish to create a portfolio of their work. In our contemporary communication culture, writers must understand how to present their work visually as well as alphabetically. This theme will help us think about how our work can be presented in such a light while simultaneously introducing us to the complexities and wonderful opportunities afforded by themes. One of the other nice things about the WPFolio theme is that the theme designers, Patrick Carey, Jeff Crouse, and Steve Lambert, have created a theme wiki with all sorts of wonderful instructions about using the theme and using WordPress, in general.
For this assignment, each student will
- install WPFolio version 1.6
- learn how themes are structured and especially how WPFolio is structured
- learn how to use Screengrab screen shot software so they can capture their writing and versions of their site
- make minor adjustments to the theme to make it their own (see below)
- make it a professional space informed by discussions, observations, and analysis about what best makes up a professional space
- ensure that it meets usability guidelines
The following are the minimum required attributes:
- professional title and tag line
- a static home page that presents your site with visual(s) and alphabetic text
- a blog space
- all blog posts must have at least one Category and a number of Tags
- blog posts that contain links when and if appropriate
- a detailed about page composed with sentences that reveals who you are, what your site is about, and the work that can be found on it
- a selection of sidebar and footer widgets
- a selection of plugins that will enhance the use of your site
- a portfolio containing a minimum of 7 pieces that are discussed and contextualized
The following are the minimum required adjustments:
- adjust the background and font colors
- adjust the font family
- adjust the font size
- adjust the link active, hover, and visited attributes
- install a custom header image using CSS
- create a navigation menu using WordPress 3.0’s navigation menus (each navigation heading must have at least one post associated with it
- adjust permalink settings
- set up Google Analytics and add the appropriate code to your site
We will determine other characteristics of a quality professional site based on what we as a group determine to be essential features of professional web sites for writers, artists, and/or educators (such as a clear resume or CV).
Each of the design and feature decisions you make must be grounded in a professional or rhetorical decision. For example, if I ask you why you chose a certain font family or background color, you must be able to tell me why and how that decision enhances or supports the goals of the site. Same for all plug-ins and widgets you use.
Part of the process of this class is going to be reflecting on the changes that you make to the site over time. To engage in this reflection it will be vital for you to be able to see the changes that you’ve made from one version of the site to the next. As a result, be sure to take screen shots of your site when you make changes. You can blog about these changes and use the screen shots as evidence and to help your readers understand the changes that you make, such as in this short post about my web site redesign. Or, just by looking at the redesign from 2006 to 2010:
On the reflective statement
Your reflective statement should have two parts in one document, single spaced:
- Part 1 (500 words in length) should focus on the medium, on the experience of composing a web site relates to/challenges your ideas and processes when composing more traditional forms of writing. Use the heading Medium before this section.
- Part 2 (750 words in length) should be a critical reading of your site in terms of usability guidelines and the features of professional web sites that we discussed. Be specific about how your site meets the guidelines and/or employs the features and why you decided to include what you have. If you have chosen to ignore a guideline or feature, discuss in depth why you made that decision. Account for things like layout, color, navigation items, and so on. Feel free to use screen shots. Ultimately, this part of the reflection should make the case for why this installation is an appropriate reflection of who you want to be online. Use the heading Critical Reading before this section.
Have an electronic version of your essay with you in class (via email, USB drive, and so on). We will be handing in the files electronically. Name the file in this manner: “wolff-iwsf10-yourlastname-inst1-reflection.” The file should be in .doc or .docx format.
Here are screen shots of the usability and features lists we came up with in class.
9/28: blog post discussing in detail (500 words min) what you want this site to be, what part of your professional life you want it to represent, and how what you think you are going to do to succeed at that representation
10/5: professional web site analysis due
10/12: draft of install and reflective statement due by class-time
10/19: final installation and reflective statement due by class-time