As more and more prospective employers become web-savvy, they will often search the Internet for information about potential hires. Parents and students increasingly expect teachers to have a presence on the web where they can go for information, copies of handouts and assignments, and more. A professional website will help you shape your professional identity and can provide a place where you can reach out to parents and students regardless of where you teach.
Although you may feel trepidation about this project, you’ll find it’s not as difficult as it may seem. For this assignment, you will take advantage of BYU’s domain name registration services and their hosting. Taking advantage of BYU’s service will help you create a professional domain name and a polished site that will impress others. You might look at my professional site (at jonostenson.com) as a model, but you can also find other teachers’ site around the web.
To create your site, you’ll follow these steps:
- Create and Register a Domain Name. You’ll want to come up with a professional and recognizable domain name; this should probably include your name or some variant. For instance, Alex Smith might choose “mssmith.com” or “smithenglish.com”; you could use your first and last name in some combination as well. Once you’ve decided on a name, you’ll want to register it (for free) with BYU’s service at domains.byu.edu. For help with this process, see the help page at the BYU domain service.
- Install WordPress. While there are other options, I’d strongly suggest you use WordPress as the platform for your site. You may know WordPress as a blogging platform, and it does serve that function, but it’s also widely used for generating all kinds of web sites. It’s very popular and it’s easy to find support on the Internet for any problems you’re having (or neat tricks you want to do). Again, there’s help for installing WordPress onto your new domain on this help page from BYU.
- Choose a Theme. There are lots of themes you can choose from in WordPress. One you’ve got the platform installed, hover over the “Appearance” link from the dashboard and select the “Themes” option that pops up. To access the dashboard, log in to your WordPress install by going to http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin (replacing “yourdomain” with the domain name you chose earlier) in a web browser. From the Themes page, you can preview the installed themes and select from new themes. Find a theme that you like and that reflects your personality, but keep in mind that you want the site to be professional at the same time.
- Organize the Site and Create a Menu. Give some thought to the major pages or categories of information you’ll want to have on your site. Some ideas would include a page about you, a page with your teaching philosophy, pages with disclosures or sample lesson plans, perhaps pages for assignments from your classes, and so forth. You can always adapt this structure in the future as your status and teaching positions change. Add these pages to your site (even if the content is blank right now) before creating the menu; after you’ve created major pages for your site’s content, you can add them to a navigational menu. To help you with creating new pages and with the menu, see this help section on customizing your WordPress installation.
- Create a Landing Page as Your Main Page. For now, I’d suggest that you have a static home page that will load whenever someone visits your site (this is sometimes called a “landing page”). Since this will be the first page visitors see, you might consider introducing yourself briefly, telling a bit about your current position/status, and explaining the content that people might find on the site. Once you’ve created that page, set the static home page by (in the dashboard) hovering over the “Appearance” option and choosing the “Customize” link from that option. On the page that loads, look to the bottom of the list for an option titled “Static Front Page” and click that option. From the new set of options, select the radio button for “A static page” and then select the page you want from the drop-down list below. When you’re finished, make sure to hit the “Save & Publish” button that’s above the list of options.