If you need to keep people informed but e-mail isn’t enough and you don’t have time, skills or money for a website, then a Blog may be the answer. It’s free, and really easy; read on for a guided tour. [First published May 2005.]
A plea for help
CommunityNet Aotearoa recently received the following plea for help. (We’ve changed a couple of details for privacy reasons.)
We are a free service that provides information to members on what — where — when. We were wondering whether there was a free website available to keep informing our members? We are a non-profit organisation and therefore have no funds to run a website, but this is desperately needed. At present we are using the email system which is less than satisfactory. PLEASE help!
A free blog was our suggestion. A blog is very easy to set up and you don’t have to know how to make web pages — you just fill in a form on a web page to add a new notice. WordPress.com and Blogger offer free Blogs.
[Note: when I wrote this tip the superb WordPress.com was not available. I’d recommend that rather than Blogger for many reasons — quality being the main one.]
Free Sign Up
I visited Blogger at the above address and worked through the sign-up process. I chose the Username: KiwiCNA and a secret password. Then I read and agreed to the Terms of Service.
Name the Blog.
The next screen asked me to choose a name and address for my Blog. I chose CommunityNet Kiwi and cnakiwi.blogspot.com.
Next I had to deal with a “captcha”. That’s a picture of some distorted text, which helps ensure that I’m a real person filling out this form and not some kind of spam robot. This may cause difficulties for users with visual disabilities and I have not yet established how blind people will manage this step.
Choose a layout.
The next step gives me some attractive layouts to choose from. I note these have been created by some leading web designers who know how to create websites which meet current standards. I chose Minima.
Now start sharing information.
That was it for the set-up phase. Now I can start putting information into my website. I write a title and a few paragraphs and press the button marked Publish Post.
A few settings.
There are many settings you can change if you wish, but you don’t have to change them to run a perfectly good Blog. It is worth setting the Time Zone to NZ time; visit Settings — Formatting — Time Zone and scroll down until you reach UTC + 12 Pacific / Auckland. After you’ve changed it click the Save Settings button.
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, May 2005.