About this document.
This manual is intended to help you, the user, manage and update the content of the AGFOA.com website. The next sections will provide some step-by-step instructions for this, but this overview will provide some helpful context about the website and how it works.
Website software (and the AGFOA website) are constantly changing, so this manual exists online. This allows for easy updating of instructions and screen shots as things change, and assure that what you are reading here is as up-to-date as possible. If you find yourself looking at instructions here that don’t match what you are are seeing on the the site, just let your web developer know, and he can update this manual.
Why have a web page?
Fair question! A big part of having a web presence is to give businesses and organizations a virtual public-facing entity. It lends legitimacy. In that respect, we want a website that looks professional, is up-to-date, and works across multiple platforms, meaning the various internet browsers and different smart phone operating systems.
Ideally, web pages are also providing information to those that go to it. Let’s think of that information in two categories: Static and Dynamic. Static information is the stuff that rarely changes, like a company’s origin story, or the rules for membership. Static information also tends to stay in the same place on a website. Dynamic information tends to be temporal, like job announcements, annual conferences, or newsletters. Dynamic information can also be displayed contextually - that is, it can be made available for a certain amount of time, be shown only to certain users (i.e. “Members Only” content), or move to different parts of the website (i.e. from “Latest Updates” to “News Archives”). Knowing whether the information you want to share on a website is static or dynamic has big implications for how it is handled on the site.
One more thing. As of May 2023, 67.81% of the total web visits were from mobile devices. Mobile devises, because of those smaller screens, use a different set of rules for displaying internet information than a computer browser does. We need to be sure that the virtual public-facing entity reflects well on the organization. This starts to really impact web design when we consider the next point below.
Websites and website software are constantly changing.
Here’s the rub. Even though the world wide web has been around for a while now, the rules and standards for how it works are still a constant and ever-changing thing. Every new smartphone operating system, every new browser update, every new device that wants access to the internet creates a ripple effect that inevitably requires updating the software that runs the internet, and thereby the software that keeps each website working. Likewise, there are literally millions of hackers, spammers, and other agents of malfeasance who are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in websites. Each time a weakness is discovered, website developers push updates to their software. Many of these updates are invisible, but sometimes that change in software means a thing that was working on a website doesn’t anymore, or something that used to be displayed well on an iPhone now makes the website look broken.
There are a lot of ways to put a website on the internet. It can be done without any third-party software, with just a little knowledge of html coding and a computer. That website might look ok on a computer screen, but likely will not look well on a phone. And, as discussed above, a home-spun webpage is going to require near constant updating if we want it to look professional. That’s why most professional pages use third-party software form an organization with a vested interest in keeping up with the ever-changing web environment.
There are a lot of choices out there. There are some over-the-counter options, like Weebly and Squarespace that work well for simple storefront-type sites, but woe be to anyone who wants to customize their site beyond the out-of-the-box options that are given. Then there are companies that build websites. They are still going to use a third-party service to build their platform. There are some options out there for more customizable sites, and each web service will advocate for the one that they use. Here’s why I use WordPress:
- WordPress powers 43% of all websites on the internet.
- It is easy to use.
- It is free, open source software.
- It is fanatically supported, so you can be sure when web weaknesses are found, WordPress will address them.
- WordPress will not disappear. Not only are so many businesses and organizations using it for their websites, but there is a substantial industry of web designers who base their business on the platform. If you need help, there will be someone out there who can provide it at a reasonable rate.
WordPress and Concept of Degrees
My business is one of those that solely use WordPress. COD websites are hosted by a business called WPEngine, which is a hosting service that solely provides hosting to WordPress sites. They run routine checks on all the websites that they host to check for vulnerabilities, needed updates, or potential breakdowns. They make daily backups of all websites so that if something should go wrong, there’s still a functioning version of the site to go back to. All this to say that websites built and hosted through COD are going to be safe, secure, and functioning.
Concept of Degrees wants your business, but also wants the client to be in control. At any time, COD will assist in transferring the site to another service provider. COD will never keep the “keys” to your website. It is your property, and you can manage it accordingly.