On 2 February 2015, I launched the IowaCity3D.com website as a pop-up site. My goal was to design and launch the site in just a few hours. It’s primary use is as a disposable site created for an afternoon symposium.
Hosting. To keep the costs down, I chose WordPress.com with a dedicated domain name at a cost of $18 per year. The hosting comes with some built-in social network integration that I find helpful.
Theme. I decided to use the WordPress Goran theme, developed by Automattic (the WordPress people). It’s free and offers a modern design with responsive layout. Below you can see the home page for the site. You can click the image to visit the site.
Website as a Pinboard. Having an event specific website is nice because you can use it like a pinboard. Pinterest is a great concept. It lets people create topic-centric collections of their favorite visual content. With Facebook pages it’s possible to do this as well. Simply create a page on Facebook for a specific topic. Then, whenever you find a story online, an image, or a post on Facebook that relates to the topic, just put it on that page. Voilà, you have the equivalent of a Pinterest board. Blogs like Tumblr and WordPress.com let you do this also. Just setup a dedicated blog/site for a topic you enjoy, and then fill the site with all the content you find. The nice thing about a website is that it can be organized by pages, and the various posts can be categorized by tags.
Online Video Database. For the 3D Technologies symposium, I wanted to collect, organize, and offer a large collection of videos about 3D technologies. The WordPress.com platform is excellent for this. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of videos on YouTube that can be easily embedded in a site. There’s no restriction for their use. In fact, most content creators want their videos shared as widely as possible to increase their views. By creating a post for each individual video, and using descriptive tags (keywords), you can essentially create a database of videos on a certain topic or range of topics. The Inspiring-Music-Videos.com website is an example of this. It’s possible to create a curated website with only the videos of higher quality content and clarity. With the 3D Technologies symposium, I posted YouTube videos and assigned the publish date to be the date the video was originally published to YouTube. The end result is that I can see the videos chronologically, which is relevant when studying the development and progression over time of 3D technologies. It’s also easy to find a specific video by date.
Multi User. With the event website, I envisioned that there might be others who would want to edit or add content to the site. With WordPress.com it’s possible to have multiple editors for a site. This helps foster collaborative content creation and makes it easy to bring in help when you need it.
Transferable. With the event website, I thought that I might want to let someone else manage it in the future. The nice thing about a WordPress.com website is that it’s easily transferable. Let’s say you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in a website, but decide to gift it (or sell it) to someone else. It’s easy to do with WordPress.com.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). On one occasion I was visiting with an SEO ‘expert’ who charges his clients thousands of dollars per month for SEO services. My advice to people is that they simply write their website content authentically, passionately, and thoroughly, and then let the search engines scan the site and index accordingly.The tricks people play to outsmart search engines like Google usually backfire. Give attention to your website address, title, description. Titles of pages and posts should naturally include meaningful keywords relevant to the content. Create lots of content, and make sure it’s genuine and unique. The rest will take care of itself. I provide this introduction as it relates to the IowaCity3D.com website. In about 14 hours after launch, the site was on page 1 and page 2 (a total of three listings) on a search with over 2 million results. Total cost: $18 per year. Click the image below for a larger view.
I’ve known of people who sign up for SEO services and have their sites blacklisted. If people would just focus on their passion, and write about it, they’d get better results than being distracted by SEO tricks.
Event Website. It’s typical with small events to host the event information on an existing website, and include the basic details about the event. It’s an approach that’s easy, but limiting. A dedicated event website provides a focus on the basic information needed without including any extra information that might confuse site visitors. A conference website nested inside another website (like this example), ends up presenting the site visitor with numerous other navigation links that are irrelevant to the event. Like Russian nesting Matryoshka dolls, in this example, we see that the conference website is actually four levels deep within/under three other websites. By contrast, a dedicated event website like the IowaCity3D.com website (or like this example) offers the site visitor only the navigation and options relevant to the event and nothing more. In making ‘one off’ event websites, it’s a good idea to choose a domain that can be repurposed or expanded on later. An example of this would be TheEventInformation.com website. It’s an easy website address to remember, and the site that can be used over again for other events.