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Environmental Studies

WordPress Options

The ENVS Program requires WordPress for students without current sites, as summarized here. But there are several WordPress options! The information below will help you make an informed choice, and remember the DS overview presentation for guidance on your WordPress sites.

  1. WordPress.com or WordPress.org? There is a difference!
    • WordPress.com is the easiest to get started, as they administer the site for you on WP.com. You just use it! But this limits your options.
    • WordPress.org (also called a “hosted solution”) is the most flexible and powerful, as you administer your own WP.org site on a host. You can set it up however you want, and build marketable skills—but you must maintain the site.
    • Our advice: if you’re ready, do a hosted WP.org site—you’ll build skills immediately. If that sounds like too much, do the easier WP.com for starters, then export your work to a hosted WP.org site in future. Here is one good comparison of the two, eventually recommending a hosted (WP.org) solution. 
  2. If you chose WP.com, we strongly recommend a paid vs. free plan to avoid ads and offer some customization.
    • Here are their paid plans; consider the Blogger ($3/mo) or Personal ($5/mo).
    • Note that, if you want the flexibility and power of a hosted solution via WP.com, you will minimally need the Business plan ($25/mo)! That’s way more than the typical hosted solution, so don’t do it.
  3. If you chose a hosted (WP.org) solution: who will host (i.e., manage the server for) your site? And what else do you need to do?
    • WP.org has recommended hosts; these are the companies that manage (serve) your sites. We recommend SiteGround, where you can get a StartUp Plan free for one semester, then do an inexpensive student plan for $1.99/mo…and the cost doesn’t go up as long as you’re a student.
    • To take advantage of the SiteGround free start, go here and sign up using your lclark.edu email address. You’ll receive a confirmation email with link to setup wizard; make sure to follow instructions on this image to set up WordPress. You’ll then be able to choose a theme and install some recommended plugins; you can always change these options later. Some hints on the SiteGround dashboard are here!
    • One thing you’ll get to do with a hosted site is to choose your domain name: basically the URL people use to get to your site. This will typically cost about $15 or so annually—it’s easiest to use SiteGround for this too (here are their allowed suffixes), or check out Google Domains (which you’ll need to access from your personal Gmail account). Most people go for .com, but there are many other suffixes available.
    • Once you choose your domain you’ll want to set up SSL so that people get to your site via https://. To do this on SiteGround, see these instructions, where you will (a) verify that your site has an SSL certificate (and add one if necessary), then (b) make sure everyone visits your site using https://.
    • You can endlessly tweak the look and functionality of your site! Make sure to have others look at it and offer input, as many different people will be visiting your site.

We appreciate your comments toward improving this guidance; just email envs@lclark.edu.