Categories
Web

Building a Website for Free

Hangout with me long enough and I’ll help you launch your own WordPress blog or website. I’ll talk you into it somehow! I live and breathe this stuff.

This morning I helped my girlfriend Kara launch her blog at karajade2020.wordpress.com. Earlier this year I launched a co-authored blog with my good friend Charles at alwaysdeep.wordpress.com. And I helped my HOA launch theirs at inspirationhillsnet.wordpress.com. I’m on a spree because the list doesn’t end there!

In 2018, there’s no reason not to have your own blog or website. WordPress.com is free! So it doesn’t cost you anything. It’s a WYSIWYG, meaning you don’t have to learn how to code. The bar for entry has never been lower. You can always get fancier with your website, but keeping things free and simple works too!

Personally, I like having my own domain, configuring DNS Records, and managing my own @agarcia.tv email addresses. I enjoy it.

There was a time when it was more difficult. Today, it’s easier. It costs a lot less too. IT admin won’t tell you that because it’s their own job security that they’re worried about, but you could easily get away with launching a WordPress or Squarespace website for $96 or less!

Your student organization can launch a free site with WordPress. There’s no excuse not to be online! Every entity can now have their own website. There’s no cost associated with having one. Unless you want more features.

I remember hearing that a church I previously attended paid $40,000 for their website. It wasn’t mobile friendly, it was very hard to navigate, and it was rarely updated with new content. I now realize they could have just paid $299.04 for the Business Plan (the top tier) and still saved thousands! The site would have been mobile-friendly on day one and would have been easier to keep updated with fresh content.

Times are changing. Costs are diminishing. And while I could see this as a threat to all the hours I’ve spent learning how to do this stuff, I recognize that times change. And there will always be people who want it done for them. So if your business or organization wants a website, doesn’t want it to cost too much, but you don’t want to do it yourself, I’m always here to help!

Categories
Thoughts

Making Friends on the Web

Some of us are introverts. I’m an introvert. I can spend a whole weekend inside working away on my computer and be surprisingly content.

Even though I’m alone at a desk, I still have the potential to make friends all around the world. I’ll never forget the time a girl from China messaged me on Skype. She asked me to help her with a Photoshop project.

She lived in Hong Kong. I don’t know how she knew I would be able to help with her Photoshop project… I had literally helped another student with a similar project that day.

Closer Than You Think
This is the travel poster I designed for the unknown overseas college student. I was hoping that she would study the layers and learn how shadow effects worked. (Insert eye roll here)
uiw-mac-lab-communication-art-aaron-garcia-geekdom

The day she reached out, I had accidentally turned my Skype settings to allow anyone to message me. At first, I was surprised that someone from Hong Kong was trying to message me. I thought she might be a scammer. But, she quickly mentioned the Photoshop project and because it paralleled with what I had helped another student with earlier that day, I listened.

At the time I had a work-study job at UIW where I helped students with creative projects on Mac computers. I really enjoyed sharing what I knew about Final Cut Pro X, Photoshop, WordPress, and Apple computers in general with students and faculty. They would ask me how to do this and that, each time I somehow knew the answer.

I’ve spent more than a decade with my eyes on a screen. If the computer were a physical world, I could say I’ve seen many countries. I’ve learned how to edit videos, photos, extensively explored Excel’s capabilities, configured DNS Records, run virtual machines, created ISOs, recovered deleted files, experimented with steganography, generated strong passwords, used Terminal, made PDFs searchable with OCR, converted various file types, created encrypted archive files, opened a Bitcoin wallet, designed a font, I’ve installed many operating systems, and the list continues.

For as much time as I’ve spent alone on the computer, the Internet has introduced me to many new people who I’ll never meet in person. I’ve held conversations with Londoners and Asians. I use software from Canada and Switzerland. I’ve made friends and had many arguments with people from around the globe on social media.

I’ve found that I prefer making friends. Skip the politics, there’s more to life than that.

I recently commented on K.C. Wise’s blog blackbunchedmassmom.com. I read her about page, which will inspire improvements to my own. I feel as if I know her, even though I’ve only read a few posts and her about page. It was a great post, inspired profound reflection, I recommend giving it a read.

While there are those who insist meeting in person is a prerequisite to forging a lasting friendship… I point out that for the heavy thinkers — it is our thoughts, our souls that are boundless and can travel across the world; echoing into time.

Obama needs no introduction. With as much as we’ve seen him and heard him speak, it’s like we know him. Social media gives us the opportunity to experience a similar phenomenon mutually.

So if you want to be my friend, simply comment on my blog and follow me on Twitter. The Internet is the world’s largest mixer. We may know how easy it is to argue with a complete stranger, but how about transforming strangers into friends?

Categories
Web

WordPress.com Introduces Free Images

Now I don’t have to go upload my own or download from pixabay.com, though I highly recommend them.  This new feature drops another exclamation point behind Why WordPress.com is Better, a post I published recently.

How to Add Free Stock Photos to WordPress.com

How to Add Free Images on WordPress
Searching for Stock Photos in WordPress
Choosing a Free Stock Photo as Your Featured Image

Adding a free stock photo to your post or feature image is incredibly easy! For adding images directly to your post, click add and choose the third option, “Free photo library.” You’ll then be greeted by a blank pop up. Use the search bar to search for photos relating to a keyword.

Since I am writing about free stock photos, I decided to search for “photo.” I chose one of an iPhone taking a photo of a sunset because I take a lot of my photos with my iPhone.

To add a stock photo as a featured image, click on the featured image panel on your right, click choose featured image and then click the WordPress icon on the top left of the popup that appears.

Now that I can add free stock photos this easily, I’ll likely blog more! The featured image is my favorite part of blogging. I can’t explain it, but I just love choosing gorgeous stock photos and writing a post to accompany them. Perhaps that’s the visual artist in me. I admire images.
Hope you found this post helpful if so let me know in the comments! I know I’m really going to enjoy this new feature.

Categories
Web

How to Set up an SSL

One way to get a free SSL is to migrate DNS control of your domains to CloudFlare. By default, CloudFlare offers a free “Universal SSL”. Under the “crypto” menu select “Full” for the SSL box.

cloudflare_crypto_ssl_full

The process takes 24 hours before your certificate works consistently. After 24 hours have passed you can force your website to only be accessed through https. This option is found under page rules. You’ll want to create two rules for your non-ssl URL: http://yourdomain.com and http://www.yourdomain.com and turn on “Always use https”.

agarciatv green lock

If you don’t wait to turn on forced https your website will work intermittently for 24 hours in 30-minute intervals. But don’t worry, it will start working tomorrow!

Categories
Web

Mobile First Design

Let’s face it, our readers prefer purchasing a new iPhone every other year than buying a computer. Computers are for nerds. There I said it.

In 2015, designing a website for desktops and laptops when our readers will only view it on their iPhone is embarrassing to say the least. So, when are we going to start designing with the predominate mobile audience in mind?

It’s the dominating statistic: 61% of my website viewers are on mobile. The majority of these views come from iPhone’s Safari browser. This is a trend that I’m seeing everywhere including with older demographics; even 65+ (I work closely with the oldest operating HOA in San Antonio and eight public golf courses).

Using a computer just as much as your iPhone makes you elite. Unfortunately, not everyone is elite. That’s why we cannot design for ourselves anymore (not that we ever should have). Some leave their laptops off most of the time. I guess laptops remind people of work and school.

So moving forward, we need to ask our friends to check out our websites as we are developing them. If they grow impatient with how slowly it loads or how many finger flicks it takes to scroll down the pages – redesign it. The desktop versions of our websites are the best around, scoring a 77 easily in Google’s PageSpeed Insights, but if the mobile site makes our audience put down their phone in boredom, that’s a clear sign of failure.