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“Going Live”

Ipomoea pes.caprae - Beach Morning Glory (or Goat's Foot) sprouting on the sand at Galveston's west beach

Setting up a simple website is relatively easy these days. Setting up a website with content that will interest visitors is more difficult. Setting up a website with a flexible structure to allow easy additions and revisions while making sure everything works can be a real challenge. Perhaps that is why about 37 percent of all current websites are based on a system known as WordPress. WordPress has also spawned an international industry catering to businesses and individuals who want an Internet presence but don’t have the time or knowledge to start from scratch. WordPress provides the nuts and bolts to store and deliver the information and hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs have developed a myriad of different templates, or themes, to arrange how the information (text, images, diagrams, etc.) will be delivered to the web visitor’s browser to display on the screen. Setting up a WordPress website then consists of selecting a theme that fits your need, writing the content, testing everything to make sure it works and then loading WordPress, the theme and the content onto a host site where it can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection and a browser.

At least that is the sequence I followed, largely because it allowed me to experiment with different themes and content without making any payments to an internet host service or worrying about having a half-finished internet site on the web. All my development work was done on my laptop running Windows 10. I was able to change themes, start over if I didn’t like how things looked, revise content as often as I felt the need and do it all from the sofa in front of the TV with the dog curled beside me. If you want to do this yourself and are running Windows, the first thing you need is a program that simulates a web server. The easiest answer is to download Wampserver. This program installs automatically and once up and running, is a perfect base to develop your WordPress website. Next, download and install WordPress from here. I found this slightly more challenging – until I learnt to follow the instructions exactly! After that, the fun starts as you try to find the theme that matches what your website to look like. I spent the early months of the current COVID crisis searching Google for themes that I thought appropriate. Many are free, and many require payment. I really wasn’t interested in spending money at this stage. I finally ended up with Yazu, a theme labeled for photographers. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but the price is right (free) and the coding is honest and straightforward. That made it possible for me to modify the appearance without becoming a web expert.

After that, there are umpteen plugins that can be added to enhance the site including “galleries” to arrange photographs, “a light box” to display those galleries, contact forms to permit visitors to send messages to the author and so on – depending on what you need. It is like a candy-store. But, like all candy-stores, there comes a time to stop, and check-out.

So, this is my first edition. Is it perfect? Probably not and your thoughts and comments on improvements are very welcome.

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