Making it look good – Part 1

A common problem facing many people who are working to improve their online presence, especially those who have very little experience with web design, is trying to find ways to make their particular identity known, and making it look good. Ever since the dawning of the first web browser in the early 1990s, intensive studies and countless experiments have been devoted to understanding how we, as users, interact with content online. Fortunately for us, a lot of what we already know about art, human interaction, and an array of patterns already exists from long before the era of the internet, to guide us to more familiar territory.

Without getting too abstract, I’d like to highlight just a handful of areas where I feel people new to the concept of web design seem to flounder. There is no one-stop-shop for creating the perfect website, and many of the points I want to highlight can potentially be dug into much deeper than the intended scope of this series of articles. But taking under consideration these few areas can help bring your website up to par with your competition and allow you to stand out as an organization.

Stay tuned for future posts devoted to this topic!

Making it look good: Part 2 >>

But you don’t have to take my word for it…

A few months ago, I wrote about why you—yes, you!—should build a website. Today, I’d like to bolster my case with some help from one of the best science communicators out there today, Emily Lakdawalla.

Emily Lakdawalla is Senior Editor at the Planetary Society. I suspect many of our faculty and grad students already follow her on Twitter, but if you don’t, you should. If nothing else, follow her for the incredible photos.

Earlier this month, she tweeted this:

And she’s right! There’s a lot of amazing research that happens at NC State, and the University Communications team does a great job of promoting it. But it’s the researchers themselves who know their work best. Maintaining your own website, highlighting your interests and accomplishments, and providing an easy way for people like Emily Lakdawalla to contact you goes a long way toward promoting yourself to the broader world.

So when I saw that tweet (don’t tell Jen I was on Twitter during the work day…), I helpfully replied:

As long-time readers might be able to guess, I was thinking of our very own WordPress Blogs service at Similar services are available at institutions across the country, including our friends in Chapel Hill.

If you’re one of those young scientists Emily was referring to, you may be thinking something like this:

“I’m a post-doc! I love NC State and the phenomenal service offered by OIT, but I’m going to be heading to another job next year. Why put in the effort to build a website at NC State when I’ll have to do it all over again at my next institution?”

Anticipating your concern, I also tweeted:

This is one of the great things about WordPress, and why it’s the CMS of choice for OIT Design. It’s incredibly easy to transfer the content from one site to another. (If you’re having trouble or you need some pointers, that’s something we’ll gladly help with.)

And even if your next institution doesn’t offer a WordPress service, you can build a free site or purchase a unique domain name and import your NC State site’s content just as easily.

So it’s not just us that think this is important. Listen to Emily and go to to build your site today!

WordCamp is coming to Raleigh!

College_of_Engineering_Building_II,_North_Carolina_State_University_(2013)NC State will once again (third year!) be hosting WordCamp on Centennial Campus this fall. October 10 and 11 WordCamp RDU will take place in Engineering Building II (creative name, I know) at 890 Oval Drive.

The schedule is still being finalized and I believe they’re still looking for speakers, in case you’re interested and have something to contribute. You can see the schedule, speaker list, and much more on the website at

Tickets are already available so grab yours now. They’re $35 each and really a bargain for this kind of event and all the presentations. Those associated with NCSU in some way are eligible for a discount so just drop us a note – – if you need that coupon code!

Hope to see you there!


Hi everyone! My name is Chris Deaton, and I am joining Jen and Brian as the newest full-time addition to the OIT Design team.

Just a little about myself, I am a WordPress enthusiast, but a diehard developer at heart. I enjoy learning new things, and have been spending a lot of my free time digging into Laravel, Twig, and AngularJS. As a recent CHASS graduate of the History department, I have a passion for all things history, and love basically everything about the Middle Ages.

In my spare time, I love to run competitively as well as for leisure. I am also an avid tennis player, and am always looking for people to play with.

The opportunity to work with the OIT Design team has not been taken lightly; I am thrilled to be a part of such an awesome group of people, and I look forward to getting to know all of the clients we support, as well as making myself as useful as possible.


As part of our ongoing effort to improve the services we provide to campus, in the coming weeks we are going to be reevaluating all aspects of our free WordPress Blogs service. This will include a comprehensive review of the themes and plugins we make available to our campus users, and a push to add more documentation, tutorials, and other “how-to” resources to the site.

But we’re also going to be spending some time on the service home page at What do you want the new WordPress site to look like? What information would you find useful, and what resources should we link to? Aesthetically, what kinds of visual elements should we be including to show off our services?

Jen and I already have some ideas, but input from the broader campus community would be appreciated. If you’d like to help out, please review the site as it currently exists and fill out the form below. (Click here to open the form in a new tab.)