ESUC’s Guide to Establishing a Strong Online Presence (Outside of Social Media)

As a student in the online environment, it often feels difficult to connect to other people and meaningfully engage in club activities. The computer barrier makes it more challenging to meet new people and learn from each other. However, student organizations can alleviate this disconnect by maintaining a good online presence with a unique website.

But how do you create a website? Where do you even start? We are so glad you asked. We have done a little bit of research ourselves, and here is ESUC’s guide to creating a wonderful website from scratch!

For organizations that don’t have a webmaster, don’t worry! Here are some online website creation platforms that are good resources to look to. They provide a way to build a website by just placing content on the page. These website template sites are fast, inexpensive, search engine friendly, and simple. WYSIWYG — What you see is what you get.

And best of all, no coding experience is needed for these platforms! If making a website sounds intimidating, don’t be worried because it’s as easy as 1–2–3 (literally).

  1. Make an account and log in to the website creation site
  2. Identify the goals of the website and choose a theme to start
  3. Customize your website with elegant words and captivating pictures!

We didn’t realize just how easy creating a website was until we tried it, but hopefully seeing it laid out encourages you to try it out too.

If you’re looking for even more customizations and professionalism, there are many more advanced tools you can choose from, albeit they require a little bit of coding. For the case of static sites (one whose contents doesn’t change), these frameworks are popular:

If you’re aiming to use one of these frameworks, you don’t need to be a programming overlord, but touching up on your javascript knowledge can make the process a lot easier. The key to all frameworks is their documentation!

Now that you’ve created an absolutely stunning website, all you need to do is deploy it to the world wide web. There are a couple of ways to do this, and most of them are free to start!

  • Github Pages
  • Heroku
  • Netlify
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or Amazon S3

All of the resources we listed are evaluated in more detail here, but for a quick summary, these platforms all allow you to do things like

  • Changing the domain of your website URL (www.example.com or www.your_org.com…)
  • Previewing your site before it’s published
  • Hosting your website indefinitely

Once you’ve deployed your website, anyone with the URL can access it and read the content on your page. Some things to keep in mind is how to implement things such as branding, good User Interface / User Experience, Accessibility, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). These aspects separate a mediocre website from a good one, and ultimately make your reputation as the website owner a lot better.

Security of static websites is a little less pressing as with dynamic websites (one whose content changes), but if you want to read more about it, this source is a follow up article to the deployment article about best security practices for static websites.

We hope that this article has alleviated some of your stress about starting a website. The process may sound daunting at first, but take it one step at a time and you’ll find yourself at the end in no time. Establishing an online presence is more than enough of a reward for the process, so what are you waiting for? Let’s create!

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