Posted on June 19, 2009 by ari
Recently I’ve made the switch to WordPress, where I used to use Movable Type. I like that they’ve been committed to Open Source from day one, whereas Six Apart, the company that makes MT, has always seemed more profit-driven to me. I was shocked at how easy WP is to install, and at how deliciously comfortable it is to use. I’m able to search for, install, and configure plug-ins from within the WP admin area. Same with themes.
Many of the folks we work with are on a very tight budget, or have no funding at all, so being able to create an inexpensive or free site very quickly is something I’ve been wanting to learn to do for a long time. With WP, I can make a beautiful site that anyone can keep up-to-date in just a few hours. Finally.
What this has meant is that suddenly I’m able to do much more work for many more people, much more quickly. Here are a few recent sites I’ve made or worked on. These folks are really cool, visit their sites to find out more about them!
- Service Women’s Action Network – SWAN needed a new logo as well as a new site that they could update easily and use to reach out to potential funders. This site is the result – it features a Vertical Response mailing list, Google Analytics and AddThis sharing. Before it was even online they were talking to Congress with their new logo printed on new business cards. Go SWAN!
- Using Their Words – This site is an activist effort by a woman we’ve worked with over at NYCORe. I initially helped her polish a Google Site and created this new illustrated header for her. Then we found out that her radical web host, MayFirst (to whom Shirari Industries is now migrating!) wouldn’t even support her domain pointing to Google, since they’re so commercial. So we moved the site onto their server and installed WP. I set up the front page to look less bloggy since the site’s primary function is serving up radical curricula – and I used tags and categories to help visitors find the kind of lesson plans they’re looking for.
- AEI Convergence 2009 – This site was particularly fun because it was a barter! In exchange for making my friend Emily’s logo and putting together this quick WP, I got my bike fixed and she and Shira and I had a lovely meal together that she cooked and brought over one day. I love the little site, too – it’s simple but it does what she needs it to do, and she can keep it updated easily, herself. And what a cool convergence she’s planning! I love the photos she’s adding to the site.
- Share Tompkins – This one was particularly fun because I wrote the resources page, too. Well, the first edition. Now others have been invited in and hopefully the page will grow and evolve. The site is made using the free, hosted version of WP, in keeping with the Share Tompkins ethos of making life more sustainable and affordable through sharing resources. Using the free version of WP gives us less control over the site’s appearance and functionality, but the important thing is to get this content out and usable – not to have it be 100% beautiful and customized. That might come later – this is only the beginning for this fledgling mutual aid network. Our friends Jason and Joe are working on an even more useful sister site, where members of the network will be able to list haves and wants, to facilitate easier sharing and bartering. In the meantime, folks can check out the many trade networks listed on the resources page, or they can come to our community swap meets.
- freeDimensional – This site is still evolving, and has made some real progress lately! It’s the only one here that’s not a WP site – I built the splash page with some simple HTML, and the rest of the site is a Ning. Shira and I are very organizationally involved with these folks – we’re both on their steering committee and we may soon have staff titles. Not sure – it’s a horizontal network, and we’re still discussing as a group how to best handle roles and responsibilities. But what all of this involvement means is that Shira and I have been intimately involved not only in the visual design of the site, but in creating the content on it, and even in making the organizational decisions that go into how the network presents itself and how it functions. It’s an exciting process, with all of us volunteers and freelancers and staff people figuring out how to share power and how to talk about it. Mad props to Tricia Wang for her feedback on the site – I think we’re making more and more sense, and becoming more and more easily navigable and comprehensible, and useful to everyone in the network that depends on the site.
That’s it for now! Many more sites are currently in the works, and I’ll share them when they’re complete. Also on the table is a massive overhaul of this site right here, Shirari Industries. We’re experimenting with a very new, flexible, open-feeling site navigation that we hope will be easier for us to keep up to date, and which will give a much better idea of all of our current projects. If there’s anything you want us to keep or change or add as we do our redesign, please leave a comment with your ideas! We’d love to hear from you.
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