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Working the Web: Start and grow an online presence - workshop proposal for Boston Skillshare

Proposed for the 2010 Boston Skillshare,

workshop title Start and grow an online presence
short name Working the Web

Benjamin Melançon and others from Agaric Design Collective

Learn how to start a free, cheap, or expensive web site; learn how to increase what you can do on the web; learn basic online strategy and resources available.

Most of the workshop will be devoted to asking participants what they want to do, say, sell, or spread online, and all of us figuring out good ways to do these things. We'll start with the needs that apply to the most participants and, with luck and time, reach your specific question about how to destroy the Farmville Facebook app while driving donations to charity.

  • A brief overview of the purpose of a web site and how it can work.

Common goals for a web site include people finding you (search engine optimization), your further contact information, your updates on what you are doing next, background material, reassuring history and depth of whatever it is you are doing, how you can help others and how others can help you, and words, pictures, video, and audio that share an experience or outlook on the world. All of this boils down to defining your own presence online.

Ways of getting there can range from a free site hosted by someone else (you can run an online magazine off a blog) to a custom site where every piece is controlled by you.

We'll then cover briefly:
* How to get a free site.
* How to get a domain name.
* How to define scope and tasks and ensure a site you pay to have built meets your needs.
* How to make your site your home, the definitive place for what you need to say, but to reach people where they are on various social networks, by e-mail, etc.
* How to share the work of running your web site and your broader online presence.

We will finally spend at least half the time answering questions about how to get online for a given purpose, how to achieve your online goals, what web strategies and tools can help you reach your real goals, and which things you can do to most quickly improve your current situation.

If we have a digital projector we can look at our own sites (and perhaps commiserate about them) and look at other real examples.

People looking to improve the way they get their own story, services, or stuff on the web (or to do this for the first time), and people who handle or help with the online presence of an organization.

Benjamin Melançon has done static HTML and custom PHP websites but after co-founding the Agaric Design Collective moved quickly through Wordpress, the gateway drug of content management systems, to Drupal, a powerful, modular, community-oriented publishing framework. He uses free software every day and tries to contribute back to its communities every month or so. Ben has helped promote several nonprofits and also volunteered for tech duties, which is the real experience facilitating this session will draw on. He is currently co-writing "The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7" with 17 much smarter other authors.

Additional Agarics and friends should be on hand to discuss and answer questions about getting online from a variety of perspectives– from the basic needs of a queer youth support and advocacy group to arcane technical details of a community site for scientists. (our site) (hosting and pre-installed Drupal for progressive people and organizations) (radical web dev who made this Boston Skillshare site!)
(more targeted online materials to come)


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