LIVE BLOG: Crack the Code: WordPress

By Kara Tabor

Hi everyone! We're beginning our latest event "Crack the Code: WordPress." Feel free to follow along on this live blog post or on Twitter at @ONAMizzou.

Our featured speaker is Madi Alexander, a journalism grad student and coding wizard who has interned for the New York Times and ProPublica. She's leading our event and introducing some invaluable hacks for getting started with WordPress.

Customize Your URL:

Here's her first recommendation: Buy your own domain for hosting your site! Buying a domain will ensure that you can have the URL of your choice and have that control. Alexander says options include GoDayddy, Google and even WordPress itself.

Another option for domains including hosting your site yourself. is one resource that she highly recommends.

Pick Your Theme Wisely:

Site themes may be fun to flip through and pick out, but make sure you choose one that fits you and your goals. Alexander suggests that you pick a WordPress theme that is closely tailored to your content showcasing themes. If you have a photo- or video-heavy portfolio, pick a them that is built to maximize the display of that work.

Don't Leave All of Your Content on the Front Page:

Alexander says to be wary of both bombarding your potential site viewers with a ton of content and blog posts on the front page. Since many people who may be looking at your site are likely journalists and prospective employers, give them a site setup that invites them to dig into your content. However, she warns against going crazy on the site pages. "If you did something impressive though, feel free to give it its own tab," Alexander says.


Installing widgets is also a fantastic way to show dimension to your content and your personal branding. Twitter, Instagram and other social media tools all offer widgets that are great for using if you have a fun yet professional tone to your accounts. Don't forget to include links to your LinkedIn, YouTube or GitHub accounts if you have them!

Embedding Your Work:

Don't go overboard when it comes to the content attachments that you have on your site, because it may drive anyone checking out your clips a little crazy if your site is making it rain with files that have to be downloaded for view. While PDFs such as resumes and clips will open in another tab in Google Chrome, they'll download to your computer if you are in other browsers like Safari.

"Don't link to PDFs. Just don't," Alexander says.  "There's really no reason to link to a whole bunch of PDFs or to link people off of your site."

Short and Sweet for Your Resume:

Alexander says to skip plastering your whole, detailed resume on your site. Instead, make an abbreviated version and include that for brevity and display purposes. "If someone really wants to look at your resume and know what you did in your internship three years ago, they are going to look at your resume anyway," Alexander says.

Searching is Your Friend for Coding:

One of the biggest assets that you can tap into when customizing your website or working on any coding project is Google. Alexander says searching for answers to code questions is fantastic for finding resources such as W3Schools that have a plethora of teaching content for learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript. "Even if you can't code well, knowing how to find the solution is great," Alexander says.

Learn how to learn.

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