All semester, you've worked hard on researching, building, and designing things with digital tools. With the opportunities we've made available to you through UMW Domains, you should now be prepared to show off a polished, intentional, and professionally-oriented digital identity presented through your website. This is one of the most important ways by which you can have a say in expressing your digital identity, so you should take full advantage of this opportunity!
Every domain is unique, and you are entitled to your own goals for your site -- that's the great thing about owning it yourself. But in practical terms, for many of you, this final project will mean: polishing and tweaking your primary website, thinking carefully about what software to install and what content to present at the front page of yourname.com.
This website should accomplish several goals, and although these specific options may vary, you really should follow the suggestions below or be able to explain a good reason for doing something differently.
- An appropriate platform. For many uses, WordPress is a stable and sufficiently flexible platform, even if you don't intend to use your primary site for blogging. Flat HTML is completely flexible but requires more work to set up.
- A specific, clear title. Normally this should just be your name. This title is one of the most important ways by which Google will index your site, so if you want people to find your site when they Google your name, include your name as the title.
- An unique or customized design. Similar to resume-writing, using the default theme implies a lack of effort and attention to detail.
- Content. Tell us about yourself! Show off your work! Link to your projects. Consider including a resume or CV, but at least include a Portfolio or Projects page where you list, link to, and briefly explain your best work from this semester.
- Links. Your site will be more visible and more valuable if it exists within a network. Contribute to the connectedness of that network by linking to relevant and related sites.
- Contact. Include some means for people to contact you directly. I do not recommend posting your phone number or email address. Instead, link to a Twitter profile or Facebook, or include a wordpress-based contact form.
- Analytics. If you aren't already tracking your visitors, install Jetpack or set up a Google Analytics account and install it on your site.
We'll work on some of the items listed above in class, but in addition, I am requiring you to meet with me or a DKC tutor sometime before you complete this assignment for a website consultation. In addition to the checking or advising on the recommendations listed above, this consultation will also help you check for some things like
- changing the theme to anything other than the default
- making sure Akismet is set up correctly
- disabling comments on pages (l“About” and “Resume” shouldn’t really be conversations)
- removing inactive widgets and placeholder content
- adding content to a portfolio page
- basic SEO like unique site titles
- contact info or form
- image-rich designs where possible
You can find me in my office hours by reserving an appointment zachwhalen.youcanbook.me.
The Digital Knowledge Center will continue scheduling appointments through April 27. Visit their website to schedule an appointment with one of the tutors. (Select "Domain of One's Own" for the "tutorial type" when you make your reservation.)
In addition to providing assistance, the point of a consultation is to help you and I discuss your goals for the project so that my assessment of your work will be appropriate for your goals. In other words: in a conversation, you'll explain what you want to accomplish with your website, and by grading it, I'll assess how well your website actually does those things.