Outline of a School Web Site

I’m bouncing around some thoughts about the possible shape of a future website for the SAV School in Nepal. If you have suggestions, please don’t hesitate to jump in!

Draft Spec:

  • Easy to maintain. A drag and drop development environment would be perfect if it doesn’t compromise functionality.
  • A combination of blog and static web pages.
  • Home page will carry several blog pages, probably in their entirety
  • Home page will have buttons to static pages, possibly by cascading menu
  • Home page will display first few lines of  selected “sticky” “featured posts” (eg news items) in sidebar
  • Host must be able to assign a domain name if ever one can be afforded
  • Desirable to own a .com or .org domain but costs, school has little funding, and have to think long-term
  • Desirable to have paid-for hosting if that means better reliability & support, but costs etc
  • Storage space requirements are modest (media files can be hosted elsewhere if necessary)
  • Say up to twenty-five static pages
  • Desirable customisable look and feel (fonts and colours)
  • Must be possible to back up
  • Master password and multiple sub-password access desirable if multiple authors
  • Social media features (eg ning-like) not necessary
  • Moodle, Joomla, Drupal are ruled out because of complexity

I’m thinking WordPress, Blogger, Weebly at the moment. The requirements don’t sound especially onerous to me but I haven’t really looked yet. If you have suggestions and can point me to examples of sites that fit the bill then please let me know – thanks 🙂

Update 2012/08/13

I had a couple of kind suggestions from folk on Twitter. I’ll follow them up and will copy them here in case they’re useful to anyone else:

From @SusancMcCarthy:  This might help re your website http://www.anseo.net/design-school-web-site/

From @1MvdS:  Make your own free Web Site – a list of wonderful websites out there that take care of everything – http://make-website.com/free-websites.php. 🙂

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7 comments

  1. mrchrisjwilson

    What about Edublogs? I think they have some extra media storage and customisation options that standard wordpress doesn’t and you can set a static homepage. It’s also free to start with some upgrade options (including domain purchasing.) I actually don’t know how to make a static homepage for blogger so I don’t know if that’s an option.
    Hope that helps with some ideas.

    • clivesir

      Hey Chris! Thanks for dropping by! Yes, I mustn’t forget Edublogs! I don’t actually want a static homepage but do want buttons or links to static pages – eg school history, staff, location, funding, contacts – that kind of thing. I would like the home page to display latest posts in a main panel and featured posts (newsy stuff) in brief in the sidebar.
      It’s a slow process wading through all the themes and checking the details.
      Yes, it does help – thanks for the reminder!

      • mrchrisjwilson

        The Jetpack plugin (on all wordpress.com blogs) can have an image link to a static page. I use this in my sidebars sometimes.
        As for the “Sticky news” items I’m fairly sure you can do that on WordPress by assigning a category and then taking the rss feed from just that category and displaying it in a feed on the sidebar.

    • clivesir

      Thanks Brenda. Yes, I have encouraged several non-techy people to use Weebly. Gives good results for simple sites but I’m not so sure about using it as a blog platform with featured blog posts. I’ll do a bit of hunting and see if I can find anyone using it this way.
      Cheers!

  2. Vicky Loras

    Hi Clive!

    Not knowing much about websites myself, all the criteria you list look reasonable to me. I would say WordPress, (not because I have one) but people who have used it as a website are really pleased with it.

    I wouldn’t recommend Moodle for the complexity reason – it is for ither uses, for nstance at the college I work we have it divided into weeks, so the structure suits us there.

    Best of luck!
    Vicky

    • clivesir

      Hiya Vicky!
      Thank you! Yes, probably WordPress or Blogger will be the way to go. I just looked at Edublog – it claims lots of features which make it suitable for a classroom environment but that’s not where this will be used. And only 32MB storage? Seriously?! WordPress.com gives 3GB!! There are one or two WordPress themes that seem to work with featured posts (eg “The Morning After” and “Bueno”). For a comparison, I checked Google’s offerings – they’ve improved a lot in last 18 months since I last had a Blogger blog. Coupled with appropriate plug-in I’m sure there’d be something suitable. I like the ability to alter look and feel. BUT, it might just be TOO flexible, bearing in mind that the eventual maintainers will not have a lot of time to tinker and improve/fix. More food for thought.
      Thanks for your help, Vicky 🙂

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