Project 1: Build a Web Portal

Worth 15% of your final grade

Important Dates

  • September 10: Draft site for peer review in-class
  • September 15: Due date for Project #1
  • September 22: Deadline for Project #1 (the last day you can submit your work)

The Project Assignment

For this project, you will design and create a web portal where you will publish the work that you do for this course. Your work on this project will require that you do all of the following:

  • write and design text for online presentation (write web content).
  • use digital images (and if desired, video and audio).
  • recognize and use basic HTML and CSS syntax.

You’ll create your web portal using WordPress, which will provide the basic tools you need so that you can focus on your multimodal design and learning the basics of HTML and CSS coding.

The Assignment Process

These steps will walk you through the assignment. We will work on the sites in and out of class during the next 15 days.

Step 1: Create a WordPress blog

Setup a blog (recommended), a self-hosted blog, or a Blogs@VT site for your course Web Portal. Name your site something that we’ll be able to connect to you. Realize that your blog will be a public site, so anyone on the Internet can read it. Make wise, professional choices about naming your site and the information you will display.

Go to the Users tab on the left and then choose My Profile to update your profile and login information. You can change the way that your name is listed with each post, for instance. You can also change your password on this page.

Go through the Settings tab and update the information. In particular, be sure that you

  • Go to the General setting and give your site a unique tagline and fix the timezone.
  • Go to the Discussion setting and decide when you want the site to email you.

Decide on a backup plan for yourself. The easiest option is to copy and paste things out into files on your Google Drive, a flash drive, or your own computer. Dropbox works too. You can also go to Tools on the left and then Export to download your content as an XML file.

Step 2: Customize your blog

Use the various tools within WordPress to customize your site so that it represents you. While the work that you do for the class needs to be well-done, it doesn’t have to be formal. Choose whatever style suits your personality and the message you want to share with everyone in the classroom about who you are and what you care about. 

  1. Begin by choosing a Theme for your blog (under the Appearance tab on the left). There are nearly 300 to choose from and many can be customized with your own photos and your favorite colors. You can also think about the layout that you choose. For instance, where do you want the sidebars to be and why?
  2. Use the Widgets (also under the Appearance tab on the left) to customize the information that appears in your sidebar(s), header, and footer (as applicable). 
  3. Use Menus (again under the Appearance tab on the left) to set up the menus for your site. You’ll want to make each of the required elements for the site easy to get to by using this option.

If you need help, try the Support and Tutorials. Also remember that you can use the step-by-step tutorials at The Essential Training with Morten Rand-Hendriksen tutorial probably has a video for everything you need.

Step 3: Set-up your content

You’ll use the posts area of your WordPress site for daily blog posts that you do. Periodically, I will ask you to post something on your blog, rather than (or in addition to) in the Forums.  The Forums are a great place for whole class conversations, but your WordPress site will be an awesome place for collecting and archiving your own work. You can think of it as an online scrapbook for the course. In particular, I will ask you to write posts about the work that you are doing for the different projects in the course.  We’ll talk more about these posts in class.

Be sure that you give credit for any resources (like an image) that you use.

In addition to periodic blog posts, you need to add several pages to the site:

  • an about page, where you tell visitors about yourself and the site (Yes, you can use what you wrote as your class intro as a starting place)
  • a site information page (like a colophon in a book), where you tell visitors about the tools that you used on the site and the design decisions you made. If you need to document special resources, you can do so here as well.
  • pages for each class project. For now you can have placeholder pages for each of these assignments:
    • Interrogate an Interface
    • Remix a Story
    • Revision Plan

Step 4: Write your project reflection

In Scholar, you will write a short (about 1 page) message to me that tells me the URL to your website and then explains the decisions you made as you created your website. You can talk about content, organization, and design—telling me about what you chose and why you chose it.

This memo is your chance to tell me whatever you want me to know before I grade your project. Among other topics, you may want to answer the following questions:

  • Why did you choose to organize the information the way you did as opposed to some other possible organization?
  • Why did you choose the design that you did?
  • How did you decide about the visual elements that you have included?
  • How is this website personal and unique?

You can write this memo in class on the due date, September 15, but you might want to create a Google document where you track some of your decisions as you make them.


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