So You Want To Make A Website (A Multipart Series, Just For You)

queer-your-tech-header_FINAL_640web

Well queermos, it is that time again. Time for a multipart series—we’ve done backing up (by the way, go back up all your technology right now and then come back to reading this), we’ve done computer spring cleaning. And now, I want to teach you how to build a website. There’s a reason for that choice, too—I have a lot of feelings about the internet and marginalized communities.

I was going to put in a video of the song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman.” But then I actually watched it and that song is a real bummer. My feelings about queermos on the internet are anything but a bummer, so I’m not going to put it here. But do know that it occurred to me! Anyhow—

Publishing things on the internet, relative to other kinds of publishing, is inexpensive. It’s inexpensive, it’s almost devoid of gatekeepers, and it’s made up of learnable pieces of technology that can be expensive, but don’t have to be. In short, almost any human can publish things on the internet as long as they have access to a few tools. This is great for the queers and for other marginalized communities: suddenly, we no longer have members of the majority able to tell us our voices aren’t valid. I mean okay, they’re able to tell us that. They can shout it into the ether of no-fucks-to-give, though, because your stuff is publishable and findable via the great Googley moogley. And things have a way of finding their audience once they’re allowed to exist.

 

It’s also a weird amorphous area of infinite space. So rather than there being a sort of upper limit on how many queer voices we get to hear at any given time—for instance, in a print publication with literal limited space—we can instead hear everyone’s voice and decide for ourselves who we want to listen to and about what. There’s enough internet for everyone. We can move in and take up a queer space and make it our own, and (here’s the crazy part), we don’t have to do it at the expense of any other group’s space. Fucking nuts, right?

Well, right. Of course that’s a bit pie in the sky. Just because our physical space isn’t limited doesn’t mean our emotional space isn’t limited—a good example of this is Kickstarter fatigue. In case you don’t know, Kickstarter fatigue is the phenomenon in which the uptick of people and organizations running crowdfunding campaigns gets so noisy that it drowns out the campaigns that we may actually want to support and annoys us like the buzzing of a million drone bees. Some people think that doesn’t exist, I personally do think it exists. I think that people only have so much disk space in their grey matter for new products and projects.

Web content in general is a little like that too—the uptick in web content (especially in silly content that doesn’t that claims “you won’t believe what happened next!” in the headline) means there are so many more grains of sand to sift through before you find a diamond or a cool fossil buried underneath. But! It does make finding the specific content you want to find—and specific readers or markets you’re speaking to—really easy. People still find worthwhile things to fund and read, even though the fatigue of being connected all the time is real. And I have faith that you, human who is reading this right now, has the potential to make a diamond. Not just another grain of sand.

So over the next few weeks (interspersed with other Queer Your Techs, of course), we’re going to learn how to make our websites together. And being that we all want to be shining diamonds, we’re going to discuss ways to make sure you can not only create the website, but that it’ll be awesome once you’re finished.

So the first question is, before we even begin:

What Do You Want To Do On The Internet?

I mean, of course you want to read Autostraddle on the internet. This we know. But what do you want your little corner of the internet to be? And I don’t mean what do you want it to look like—we’ll get to that later. I mean what is the purpose of the website you have been meaning to construct? Are you a femme cupcake baker in need of a website where people can see your work and hire you to bake them delicious treats? Are you a spunky, spiky-haired actor in need of a landing page that shows off your work and your headshot? Do you need to blog to connect with your fellow activists? Do you just want a place to put your poems that you design and control yourself, and that’s really just made for you and your friends? All are good things to want when you’re considering build a room of your own on the internet.

Take a minute to tell us—what do you want to do on the internet? What are you already doing on the internet? If you’re already moving and shaking on the internet, is there anything you wish you knew how to do, but currently don’t? Actually, that goes for everyone—if you have feels at all re: this, please share them below in the comments!


 

This has been the one-hundred-fifteenth installment of  Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy tech column. Not everything we cover is queer per se, but we talk about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology. Header by Rory Midhani. 


Are you following us on Facebook?

Profile gravatar of Ali

Staff Writer for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

Ali has written 510 articles for us.

26 Comments

  1. I know how to do a very basic html site, but the thought of doing so makes me want to run screaming. The last website I managed for work was by [company name redacted], a generic fill-in-the-blank thing that was so pathetic that Weebly would have been an improvement.

    I’m kind of interested in social media-type things right now, which I realize should be pretty much self-explanatory (or google-explanatory). For instance: I had a blog from 2002-2010 and decided to get another one going, this time with WordPress. There is A LOT of difference between Blogger in 2002 and WordPress in 2015. (2002: Google bought Blogger, people debated whether to call them “blogs” or “weblogs,” and this was a headline: “Weblogs Are To Words What Napster Was To Music.”)

    At any rate, I’m finding my old ways of editing don’t seem to work anymore, and it’s frustrating. There is also so much more to integrate– substantial things like a Twitter feed as opposed to WeatherPixie– and it’s hard to get it all to come together in a coherent way.

    • I’m pretty much in the same position. I used to blog regularly on livejournal but after the shift to WordPress (despite knowledge of basic html), I’ve had a lot of problems trying to integrate into WP and after awhile it just made me lose motivation to continue writing on it.

  2. I’m definitely interested in learning how to design and code my own websites, probably on the WordPress or Squarespace platforms. I’m a baby actor/arts administrator/dramaturg/director, and I’d love for web design and development to be in my wheelhouse. In an age where where web presence is absolutely necessary in the performing arts, I know there are way too many actors with ugly Wix and Weebly websites out there (#notsorry), and so many arts organizations who need to make their websites infinitely more easy to navigate. I can code Tumblr themes pretty well (got my start with HTML coding from the ProBoards days), but I feel a little out of my depth as far as my goals go.

  3. Ahh this is awesome and perfect timing! I’m in the process of working out how I want to go about starting a writing blog/site (I’ve realized a lot of places I’m interested in publishing ask for first electronic rights, which… means I couldn’t publish stuff online first, oops!), and I have some experience working with WordPress from a brief stint as an intern at a community TV station, I’m not quite moving forward with this project at the moment.

  4. Remember when we used to say “this is relevant to my interests” ALL the time? This is extremely relevant to my interests.

    I constantly want to blog but I get very nervous about putting myself out there too. So whenever I start a new blog I spend ALL my time making it look like how I think I want it to look, pretty and online magazine-like, inspired in Autostraddle obvs. and then by the time I am done and I think it looks perfect, Im drained of all energy to actually put any content up. And Also I get scared. But this post was the perfect inspiration for me to want to get back on the blogging track. My friends are dying to read a blog by me but Im so scared I will disappoint.

  5. I’d definitely like to build a website. More specifically, I’m looking for a “professional” website for my translation services – one that can, naturally, be translated into French without a ton of duplication of effort. Granted, I’ll probably be working with CatsCradle (translation software that essentially allows you to drag-and-drop sentences), but still.

  6. I need to make a more professional website and weekly isn’t completely covering it. Or maybe it would if I knew how to use it better?

    Also since I work as a massage therapist and interdisciplinary artist and do a lot of writing for activist work should I have separate platforms for each? Or one website with tabs for each stream of stuff?

    Looking forward to this series!

  7. Great post. I would ultimately love to write some code for my own website(currently learning JavaScript via online tutorials having started with HTML and CSS and enjoying it loads).I’d really like to get a (very) basic website up and running.

  8. Oh man, so excited! Over in Cincinnati we have started making a cool little wordpress site for our Straddler stuff. Check it: cincystraddlers.com

    We have a lot of the basics on there, but we want to do a couple things that I think we could use suggestions on how to do/ how to do it better:

    -include lots of resources for queers and allies – general links to helpful things (mostly AS articles, let’s be real) and also specific-to-our area resources (e.g., which doctors are queer-friendly in Cincy, etc.)

    -we have our monthly newsletter on the front page and currently it’s a jpg and I want it to be a pdf but WordPress won’t let us put a pdf in that way unless we buy the next level of WordPress and yes people can click and download the pdf but ugh it’s just not pretty and I’m wondering… is the only way to make this pretty to buy the customizable WordPress level?

    • Or now that I’m thinking about it -I’d love suggestions for making our newsletter more dynamic in general- I mean obvs a “newsletter” that you can’t comment on, etc., is rather old skool, so – I would also appreciate information on how to make individual content blocks within a unified structure that all comes out at one time? I dunno if that’s even possible or a good idea? Halp, Ali, halp. We don’t want to run a whole news site… How do we make a cool tiny magazine each month? On the front page of a site that does other things too?

  9. Actually, this is something that I’m in desperate need of at this stage in my life. I decided to file the paperwork and start my own business. I have it narrowed down to custom art journals, handmade paper flowers and wax seals. My mind does not process building websites at all. I can stitch together a book from scraps, but can’t build a single thing online. I’ve muddled through up to this point, but I really need some help.

    I am currently paying to use my website. I don’t like who I am using, and I rarely even visit my own because of it. I purchased it for an entire year and after that, I have no clue what I will do…but I need to do something.

    I would like to know about how to buy my own domain.

    I would like someone to explain SEO to me in very simple terms and how I can work that into my website.

    I’m very much looking forward to this series.

    ~Nikki

  10. I just went back to the beginning of this series because I am wrapping my head around a project idea I have that would eventually include a blog, a podcast and maybe a book! It’s like this, I want to I want to interview different organizers and activists in Pittsburgh about their framework and theory of change, bringing out their stories- their experiences and influences that have shaped them. So, among my first steps is developing a website with a blog.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.