How to make a website

Thinking about making a website?
 
A Few Thoughts and Tips on "Why" and "How" to do it.

Note:  This page has been composed primarily as a presentation to my colleagues on the faculty of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology where I serve on the "Teaching Learning and Technology Committee."  It is designed for a brief presentation during a faculty meeting.  The content has been selected with this audience in mind. 

Many options are available, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, in addition to a personal website.  I will speak primarily about constructing a personal website. 

Why?How?  Why Not?
1.  It's fun.
2.  Personal Library
3.  Resource
4.  Class Notes
1.  A server to house the site
2.  A domain name
3.  Software / Template
4.  A Site Plan
1.  Copyright Issues
2.  Private / Public
3.  Diversity in the Church

Why create a personal website?

1.  It's fun.  I enjoy working on my site.  It is a place where I organize my thoughts, keep track of new books and publications, interesting things I read, etc. 

2.  It is my personal library.  It has replaced my file cabinet and many binders of notes.  It takes up less space!  It is accessable to me wherever I am -- even on my iPhone.  I can share information easily with others.  And "advanced Google search" lets me find anything that I might have lost (forgotten where I filled it). 

3.  It serves as a "resource".  I am the only one in the Cincinnati province of Franciscans with a doctorate in Liturgy and Sacramental theology and I am often called upon to give explanations, answer questions etc.  My website is a helpful resource for this.  And it is a recourse not only for my Province but for many others who find the site through a web search, such as Google.  For example during the month of January 2011 about 4,000 persons from 20 countries visited my site and viewed about 10,000 pages. I have access to this information through  http://www2.psci.net/home/webtrends/tomrichstatter/  [Visitors / Top Visitor Countries]

4.  Class notes:   For many years (1976 to 2000) I photocopied my lecture notes and gave (sold) each student a set.  I am sure that each student lovingly carried this binder of notes with him as he moved from assignment to assignment!  (I don't think this happens very frequently!)  However, with my thoughts being available online, should a student in the years to come be in a ministerial situation where he/she would want to refer to something that they remember from class, they can access the material online from wherever they may be living -- and they will have the "latest edition" of my thoughts (e.g. the most recent version of the class notes.)

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How to create a personal website

To get your site up and running, you will need four basic things to start:  1.  A server to house the site;  2.  A registered domain name;  3.  Software or a Template;  4.  A Site Plan

1.  A server to house the site

There are many options available in various price ranges.

For help and a list of some available options, simply Google hosting a website
For example:  godaddy.com   aplus.net

Google itself offers a simple and FREE way to house and construct a site at http://www.google.com/sites

I selected PSC basically because I heard they were very reliable.  (I began my website in 2000.  During the past 11 years the site has never been un-accessible.)  PSC has several plans, e.g. the basic plan:

Domain Hosting
$50.00 one time set-up fee
$24.95/mo.
250 MB Disk Space - $5/mo./each additional 10 MB
FTP Access to Site
FrontPage Server Extensions
1
0 Custom E-mail Addresses
Monthly Web Trends Report
2 GB Monthly Data Transfer, $10/additional 2 GB

Many other options are available, for example http://www.bluedomino.com/  for $5.00 / month

2.  A domain name

A domain name must be unique (that is, not already registered by someone else) and registered.   How to choose a name?  (Sometimes, when your site is housed on a "free" server, part of the domain name will be suggested or required.)  As my website was going to basically be about my own personal thoughts I decided to call it Tom Richstatter.  At the time when I was making my website, the extension  .com was for commercial sites;  .org was the extension for nonprofits; and .edu was for schools.  As my website was going to be very "nonprofit" is selected www.tomrichstatter.org    Father Eugene is www.biblicalcourses.com   (Note:  in this day and age, any one can find you simply by goggling your name.  As I was preparing this page, I could not remember Fr. Eugene's site but it was easy to Google.) 

I have registered my domain name through PSC which gives a discount.  In place of $35 / year they charge pay $10 / year (because they buy in volume).

3.  Software / Template

Three Options:  1) purchase software; 2) use a template; 3) hire a designer

Option 1:  Ten years ago, the easiest way to make a website was to purchase software that will help insert the proper formatting codes.  At the suggestion of Fr. Eugene I purchased Microsoft FrontPage which is now Microsoft Extension Web.   (Just as Microsoft Word helps you insert the codes needed for a printed document, letter, term paper etc.  Extension Web inserts the codes need for a web page.) 

Many other options are available, e.g. http://www.coffeecup.com/designer/

I have tried to keep my site "simple" without "bells and whistles" (pictures, video, etc.) because some of my readers have older computers and slower internet access. 

Option 2:  Use a template.  Many of templates are available free online, e.g.  www.blogger.com  Select a template, and modify it for your own needs.  Fr Eugene uses   http://www.joomla.org/

Google itself offers a simple and FREE way to house and construct a site at http://www.google.com/sites

For an example of a site created with Google sites click  http://www.spf-football.org/home

Option 3:   Hire a web designer.  This is a rapidly growing profession.  Give this person your basic idea and the designer will set up a page which you can then modify and add to in the future. For example PSC provides this service at $50 an hour.

4.  A Site Plan

Before you start to make pages, most people advise to start with a general, overall plan of the material you wish to post.  For example my plan was to list the seven sacraments and other key liturgical areas on my homepage and then have an index page under each of these major headings, and put the individual topics under the index page.  For example my homepage  www.tomrichstatter.org   Father Eugene, uses these groupings: biblical courses, resources, retreats, neat stuff, newspapers and magazines.  His homepage has links to each of these topics.  www.biblicalcourses.com    Or another example:   http://www.spf-football.org/home

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Some "cautions" about creating a website

1.  Copyright Issues --  As the site is "public" it is important to be attentive to copyright issues.  However, it is relatively easy to simply ask the permission of the copyright owner or the author of the text/photo.  Note:  be especially careful when quoting the NAB.  [Example:  the Rite of Marriage Lectionary]

2.  Private / Public -- The current "technological society" is causing a "rethinking" of what is public and what is private --  this is not always "comfortable."  If I put my private thoughts on my website they are no longer private and anyone can access them and critique them. 

3.  Diversity in the Church -- We live in a time when there is a diversity of opinions as to what is "catholic" and to put you thoughts on your website is to open yourself to a certain amount of "critique".

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The Next Step

The Saint Meinrad Teaching, Learning, and Technology Committee would like to be of assistance to you in this endeavor.  However, what can we actually do?   We realize that there is a broad range in interest in technology among the faculty and not everyone is interested in blogs or websites.  Also, we faculty members each have various degrees of "computer literacy."  We were trained in theology, not computer technology.

If you have any interest in this area, and if there is some way the committee can be of assistance, please contact a member of the committee: 

Faculty Reps:  Fr. Tom Richstatter, O.F.M., and Fr. Patrick Cooney, O.S.B.
Student Reps:  Mr. Kevin Hurley, Mr. Trevor Schroeder
Ex Officio:  Dr. Robert Alvis, Mr. Aaron Stetter, Dr. Dan Kolb

PS.  Other current committee activities include: 
Increased broadband width for Saint Meinrad...
Wireless internet access throughout the entire building...

Any questions, observations, discussion.... ???

If at some time in the future you would like to visit this page again,
go to  www.tomrichstatter.org
click:  Recent Postings to this Site
click:  Thinking about a making a website?