Build your own website 101

A surprising number of our members have asked me about our website, and in particular about WordPress, the most popular CMS in the world.

A content management system, often abbreviated as CMS, is software that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge.

In simpler language, a content management system is a tool that helps you build a website without needing to write all the code from scratch (or even know how to code at all).

Instead of building your own system for creating web pages, storing images, and other functions, the content management system handles all that basic infrastructure stuff for you so that you can focus on more forward-facing parts of your website.

I chose WordPress over Joomla, Wix, Drupal and SquareSpace (other CMS’s) for a number of reasons;

  1. It’s the most popular CMS on the market. Some popular websites you visit every day such as apple.com, walmart.com, yelp, whitehouse.gov, amazon.com, microsoft.com, godaddy.com, and homedepot.com to are a few websites built on WordPress.

  2. As you can see from the list above, styling options are endless. If you can think it, you can build it. All without writing a single line of code.

  3. Documentation, tutorials, and online courses. Youtube is my friend 🙂

  4. Thousands of Plugins, which let you customize your site (for example, the calendar app on our website is a plugin)

  5. And most importantly, it’s all free.

So, why would you want to build your own website anyways? We are all communicators. Many of the organizations we align with such as CERT’s and EMA’s for example have an online presence, and as communicators for some strange reason, many of us have been asked if we could help maintaining their customer facing social media. Many of these sites use legacy technology (HTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL), so a decent understanding of these technologies is required. After you spend several days wading through the code, you will probably suggest to the director that they upgrade their technology, and here is the problem. First thing they are going to say is its too expensive to do that to which you will reply no, it’s free. Now, the trap. OK, put something together and let me see it. Now, you are stuck. How can you put together a prototype that you can show and tell? You’re thinking you need to pay for a domain name, web hosting, and build the site just to show a proof of concept right? Not really. What if I was to tell you that you could Install WordPress on your own computer, build a site, and show it off without spending a cent? What if I was to tell you that you don’t need a separate computer running Linux, Apache, WordPress, MyQSL, PHP and CMS? What if I was to tell you that you didn’t even need a separate computer and that you could simply add everything you needed to your existing machine? What if I was to tell you you could do all this on your existing Windows, Mac or Linux computer? And finally, what if I was to tell you doing all of this would take about 30 minutes, and that it’s completely free? Keep reading and I will show you exactly how to do this.

First, you need to download and install your environment. Watch the following video that will show you how to do this:

Here is the link for the software:
https://bitnami.com/stack/wordpress/installer

Next, you will want to watch the following video which will result in you building a complete website on your own machine. I skipped past the first 20 minutes of the video that explains how to get a domain name and web hosting which we are not going to do since we are building a local website on our own machine.

If you want to give this a shot and need any advise or help, leave a comment and I will do whatever I can to help you out.

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