February 22, 2019


This course, which has followed the traditional static HTML page design for many years, will focus on using content management systems (CMS) as the foundation material. There are many off the shelf solutions, custom development, open source alternatives to consider. Although we will see what they may be, our main tool for content management and content-managed site development will be WordPress version 2.9.x.

WordPress is arguably the most popular blogging software in the world. It is freely available, frequently updated and maintained, well documented and supported. These features make it an ideal candidate to use in our course. Although it is a blogging software that manages mostly linear writings in the typical blog fashion, its page structure and many CMS style themes have made WordPress a popular content management system. The campaign site was powered by WordPress as well as many other commercial and private sites. The syllabus you are reading comes to you courtesy of WordPress, so does my photography site. Take a look at a small collection of sites run by big-name organizations, all powered by WordPress. So, you are playing in the big leagues!

CNN Political Ticker
NY Times Culture and the Arts
Department of Environmental Sciences, U of Virginia
Ford Motor Company – Global Auto Shows
Main : Furniture Warehouse
and many, many more…

In order to take full advantage of this very capable software, users need to learn perhaps a tiny bit HTML to understand the overall structure of the pages, as well as a good amount of CSS, cascading style sheets that control the appearance of the themes. So, we will spend the rest of the semester on the following main topics:

  • General technical background
    1. What is Internet (for a brief summary, read Hobbes’ Internet Timeline), how it works, network, protocol, hardware
    2. Communication on circuit switched networks and its problems
    3. Packet switched networks
    4. Client-server paradigm
    5. Layers of technology
      • Network
      • IP and TCP, later TCP/IP or just TCPIP
      • Higher level protocols
    6. IP numbers, Jon Postel, domain names, DNS, URL, fully qualified URL
    7. Higher level protocols, Telnet, FTP, Gopher, HTTP
  • How does a site emerge from nothing
    1. Domain names, domain registration, IP numbers, DNS, etc.
    2. Getting a Web hosting account, what to look for, options
    3. How to point the DNS to the hosting account
    4. How to manage the hosting account, the control panel
    5. Using FTP client to upload your work
    6. Directory structures
  • What is HTML
    1. The fundamentals
    2. Structure vs rendering, HTML, and CSS
    3. Basic HTML rules
  • What is CSS
    1. The idea of “cascading”
    2. CSS Declarations and components
    3. Styling HTML entities
    4. Creating and using classes
    5. Creating and using IDs
    6. Inline, In document, external file CSS usage
  • Server-side applications and WordPress
    1. Installing WordPress
    2. Configuring WordPress
    3. Blog vs CMS use
    4. Finding and using themes
    5. Finding and using plugins
  • Making changes to the theme
    1. Structural (when it is absolutely necessary)
    2. Visual with widgets
    3. Visual with CSS
  • Content matters
    1. Content is king, how to populate the site with relevant content
    2. How to use the site for marketing purposes, Web 2.0, interaction
    3. Search engine optimization and placement
    4. Following usage statistics, experimenting with marketing ideas (Godin, Big Red Fez)