Start Blogging Today!

Next Wednesday, I will be teaching the first of our two Basics of WordPress classes for the summer session. Both classes’ waitlists are already full, so watch this space for announcements about our fall classes. And you’re always welcome to drop by at our WordPress Office Hours.

In our classes, we guide users through creating their own website through our free WordPress Blogs environment at wordpress.ncsu.edu. It’s a great introduction to the platform, and a safe space that many users use to experiment and get to know the tools that they will be using in another place. After all, it’s better to make mistakes on Brian’s Test Site than on a live site for your department, research group, or other campus unit.

But the WordPress Blogs service is available for more than just tinkering and training. It’s a robust platform for self-publication and self-promotion– especially at a major research institution like NC State.

Below, I’d like to make the case that not only is OIT Design’s WordPress Blogs environment a service you can use, it’s a service you should use. Every member of the NC State community owes it to themselves to start blogging today!

Continue reading

Hello, I’m David.

Greetings content consumers! My name is David Mueller and I’m the newest member of the OIT design team.  I’m just getting settled in my new digs here at the Hilsborough building, trying to keep new names and faces straight and working towards being able to find my way out of the basement in under 10 minutes. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

I’m a native son of Raleigh and an NCSU grad- CHASS ’98. No that’s not a typo. I did in fact graduate in the previous century. I’ve worked a technicolor laundry list of jobs in the vast expanse of time since I graduated but recently I’ve come back to State to take some courses in the MS in Technical Communication program- which is how, in a roundabout way, I came to work here at OIT. My hobbies include content migration, HTML hunt-and-peck and deleting the phrase “This Link Will Open in a New Window”.

I couldn’t hope to work with a friendlier crew- everyone has been so welcoming (and patient!) as I’ve been getting acclimated. The first major project I’ve been working on is drawing to a close and I’ve learned a great deal in just a few short weeks. I look forward to working with some of you as clients in the future and to helping find creative solutions to your ever-evolving web design needs.

Ok enough about me. For now at least. Like the cattle drovers used to say- there’s content needs migratin’.

WordPress Security Follow-up

All you WordPress fans should be aware of the recent problems WordPress has had with cross-site scripting vulnerabilities – I did a recap on the issue a couple weeks ago. Things have calmed down considerably but there’s still some who are unsettled with WordPress security so I wanted to take a moment to address this.

Brian and I recently participated in a Security Webinar and while we didn’t get any eye-opening information the facilitator did say one thing that stuck with me:

WordPress is both the most, and the least, secure content management system on the web.

For the record, I completely agree. A WordPress site created, thrown onto the web and then left to rot with no updates is very vulnerable. A WordPress site carefully built, with solid themes and plugins, configured to be secure, backed-up, with excellent web hosting, and frequent updates is as good as any site out there. Yes, there will always be new vulnerabilities discovered, new hacks attempted, and mistakes can be made – never assume that your site is 100% safe. But a WordPress site can – and should – be well-built and secure. And if you do that security problems should be exceptionally rare.

I’m going to supplement this with a link to some content we’ve been working on for the campus site, getontheweb.ncsu.edu. This is a new(-ish) site meant to help users identify the right campus web tools for them. It will also be a resource to answer frequently-asked questions and address other web issues: accessibility, domain and web policies for campus, and of course security. We’ve recently added some information about SSL (probably a blog post for another day) and have a lot of information and tips on WordPress Security. I urge you to check it out, and if you have the need or interest, do more research on the web and in the WordPress Codex. The Codex article on “Hardening WordPress” is an excellent place to start. Happy reading!

Summer WordPress Classes

In addition to our design and development projects, OIT Design offers regular classes introducing new users to WordPress. This summer, we will be offering two classes, both of which I’ll be teaching:

Basics of WordPress

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 – 2pm to 4pm
Avent Ferry Technology Center Room 110

Basics of WordPress

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10am to 12pm
Avent Ferry Technology Center Room 110

Class Description: 

Heard of this “WordPress” thing and want to see what it’s all about? Learn everything you need to know to get started using WordPress here at NC State.

Representatives from OIT Design, Education and Outreach will cover a complete outline of topics including: setup, configuration, themes, plug-ins, settings, options and management of WordPress.

There are just 15 seats in each class, so be sure to register soon. This is one of OIT’s most popular classes and seats fill up quickly. Follow these links to register for the June 17 class and to register for the July 22 class.

What’s covered in this class?

The Basics of WordPress class is just that: the basics to get you started. Students range from absolute beginners to WordPress users who need a refresher or have never been clear on how something works.

After providing some background on WordPress– what it is, why we use it– every student will build a personal WordPress website in NCSU’s WordPress Blogs environment. I will help you publish your first post, build a few pages, add some sidebar widgets, enable some plugins, and change your site’s theme.

You’ll walk away with all the tools you’ll need to maintain your personal website or add content to your departmental website.

What’s not covered in this class?

Advanced administrative topics, like coding your own themes and plugins or running a multisite environment, are not covered in this class. And if you’re already managing a WordPress site on campus, there may be some tools specific to your website that won’t be discussed.

If you have questions about more advanced topics, or if you need help with your site, Jen and I are always available during our WordPress Office Hours every Friday from 9am to 12pm in AFTC Room 106.

OIT Design Staffing Announcements

Lots of changes and excitement for OIT Design these days! We were delighted to get Brian in here as a dedicated WordPress person this past fall and now we’re happy to announce we’ve been given the go-ahead to hire another position for WordPress support and development. We can’t tell you how much we’re excited about being able to improve our offerings to campus, our support, and our own business processes. Stay tuned for more information about the position and the person we hire!

In other staffing news we were recently able to add a new part-timer person to our roster. David Mueller will be working with clients on content review and migration, along with assisting with our routine maintenance and support tasks. You may begin to see emails from him in the coming weeks and months. We’ll also get him in here to write a blog post at some point – he has an undergrad degree in writing so no doubt he’ll be much more eloquent than Brian and I!

Finally, we have a very busy summer coming up personally! David, Brian, and I are all engaged and getting married at some point in the next few months. I’m actually first to go – my wedding will be next weekend, May 16. Please note that my last name will be changing from ‘Riehle’ to ‘McFarland’ so emails might look a bit different – we’re hoping to minimize confusion.

Thanks all! Happy graduation and hope everyone has a wonderful summer!