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Starting a Website

12 years 8 months ago #158998 by vmlumbard
Replied by vmlumbard on topic Re:Starting a Website
We developed a website over the summer after investigating a number of different options. We ended up hosting with GoDaddy and using Joomla for our Content Management System (CMS).

I see a few people mentioned WordPress. WordPress works on a CMS similar to Joomla. One of the nice things about our site is our ability to set up committee chairs as "authors" who can write articles for the site, but can't publish until it's been edited and approved. Joomla is open source and there are a number of different plug-ins/extensions you can add (some free, some not). There is a learning curve on the backend (administrative portion) of the site, but once you understand how Joomla works, it's actually pretty easy.

I was lucky in that I have a former IT person on the board who developed a lot of our internal members-only programming for us (got her working on something for the Treasurer now so members will be able to search ALL the financial records in the future). Much of it isn't visible on the public portion of the site, but we have an internal calendar, online volunteer opportunities, help articles, file archives, etc. for our members.

The most important thing, I think, is to have a pretty clear idea of what you want to accomplish with the site and lay it out beforehand. The time you spend pre-planning is worth it. Saves frustration long term.

If you want to see what we've done so far, our website is www.hopepta.org.

Vivian
12 years 8 months ago #158869 by BalloonStoryteller
I love WordPress for websites. I've built several websites, and truthfully, I really don't know what I'm doing. And yet somehow it still works out okay in the end.

Someone below mentioned the district's social media policy. Are you talking about the comments section of a blog? You can easily turn off comments on any pages, and the default setting is for the administrator of the site (you) to approve any comments before they go live.

I use GoDaddy.com for hosting and it costs me something like $46 per year for my hosting. I have room for several small sites at that price (different domain names). I build simple sites for my friends all the time and I can host all of them under that plan. They have 24-hour technical service based in Phoenix, and they never make me feel dumb for not being technical. I knew nothing about hosting my own site when I started, and they held my hand and walked me through it, very gently.

Have you asked around in your school to see if there is someone like me who would be willing to build a simple site as a way to volunteer for the school? I'm a big fan of hiring a pro in most situations, but if you want just a simple site, asking an amateur can be a good way to get started.

One word of warning if you choose this path: I always tell my friends that if I build a site for them, they're getting what they pay for, and I'm never offended if they decide to scrap my site after a while and go with a pro. I'd make sure the person who builds your site feels the same way or a bruised ego is a guarantee. :)

As far as a Facebook site is concerned, I'm not for it. Facebook has control of this content, not you. They make the rules and they change them any time they want. You'll have advertising all the time (their choice of ads) and when they make their changes, is someone from your school going to be available to make sure the site is still running smoothly?

I love the idea that a website can help the parents stay updated with what your parent group is doing for the school. What a great way to remind them of the value of what you're doing, and then maybe they'll want to get involved as well!
12 years 8 months ago #158845 by ConnieM
Replied by ConnieM on topic Re:Starting a Website
Beth, while everyone/each organization has their own preferences, here is my professional opinion...and by professional I mean that this is what I do for a living. That is not a solicitation by any means, just want you to know what your options are.

If you would like to have your own website at little to almost no cost, look into WordPress at WordPress.org. WordPress was originally built as a blogging platform years ago but has morphed into THE most popular website content management platform. Not only is it easy to use (if you can edit a Word document, you can create and update pages), but most reputable hosts offer it as a one-click install. It is also VERY customizable and you can get about a gazillion free themes to make it look nice. Heck you could spend a whopping $39 for a premium theme if you like.

This is not Wordpress.com ~ same company but these are hosted by them, which is fine unless you want to customize it or add plugins for functionality.

As far as domains go, it may be easier for your group to keep track of the domain name if you purchase it with your web hosting company...all in one place. In addition there are several web hosting companies that will give you 1 domain for free :)

Web hosting companies to DEFINITELY stay away from: GoDaddy & Network Solutions

Great web hosting companies that are inexpensive and have super customer service: Dreamhost & HostMonster. Both have plans starting as low as $8.95/mo and I think HostMonster is $3.95/mo right now with a sale. You pay these annually. BOTH give you 1 free domain, too :)

I'm happy to answer any questions :)
(and just to be clear, no I'm not charging or soliciting...it's free advice)
12 years 10 months ago #158235 by schadley
Replied by schadley on topic Re:Starting a Website
I have used officelive (it is a Microsoft site) to put our website up. I found it very easy to use. I think however they may be discontinuing it. Not 100% sure. It is free and drop and drag text editor stuff. Give it a look, won't cost you anything. If you'd like you can PM me and I will give you the link to our site so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

Do you maybe just want to set up a Facebook site for your group.
12 years 10 months ago #158226 by texasebeth
Replied by texasebeth on topic Re:Starting a Website
You can use any host and domain registration you like. There are a variety of inexpensive good hosting companies out there. Host Gator, QTH.com are 2 I know of off the top of my head. You can Google for more.

Depending on what you want to your PTO website to do will determine what platform you use. WordPress is great for simple things and there are plenty of plug-ins for calendars, pages for different areas, you can upload forms, etc.

There is a new company out there called DigitalPTO.com too. They provide a free basic PTO website (not your own domain though) as well as 2 upgraded options that will give you your own domain. The upgraded versions do have annual fees.

If there is someone in your PTO who is knowledgable about web design you can probably go with someone like HostGator, etc. and let them build it for you. I use WordPress for my personal blog and love the flexibility of it.

There are small companies that will also build websites and provide hosting services as well. Again, Google can find them for you. Keep in mind if your PTO is 501(c)3 you can have a .org instead of a .com

Here are some nice examples from our area -

www.soepto.org/
scepto.org/
schiffpta.org/
www.bmspto.org/

We don't have our own website yet but I'm working on it. I just need to decide what I want to present to the Board as far all of it goes. I'm still trying to find out the district's social media policy!
13 years 6 days ago #157795 by Lisa @ PTO Today
Replied by Lisa @ PTO Today on topic Re:Starting a Website
Beth,
Here's the link to the old message board thread:
www.ptotoday.com/boards/21-day-to-day-pt...0-pto-website#154608

~Lisa
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