I redesigned the website of the Alumni Association of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Philippines, the PTS-Alumni Online (http://pts-alumni.info). After talking to the original person (Ptr. Rei Eusebio)who created the site (through Liza, current secretary of the association), I was given permission to change the design.
Which is which?
The original site was a forum website. So I was thinking and experimenting with different CMS to do the job. However, I decided that this site shouldn’t only be a “forum” site but an interactive site that can host articles, announcements, and forum discussions. I tried SMF but was stumbled by the complexity (for a beginners) to create articles. Same goes for phpBB. I tried Joomla! but also faced the hindrance of back end management and looking for a forum plugin was hard (since SMF already stopped supporting the SMF-Joomla! bridge due to license issues). There is a release called Kunena but it required a good hosting that I can’t meet. And I fell to my favorite CSM, WordPress.
Forum in WordPress.
Since I am already familiar with WordPress, I decided using this for the site. Setting up was no problem, but integrating a forum gave me a bit of headache (it’s not that it can’t be done, but because I was so noob I forgot some basics – php limitations). At first, I tried looking for a way to integrate different forums to wordpress. It’s either the bridge failed, not supported or I just don’t like the way it looked.
I then discovered Simple:Press. A wordpress plugin that will give you a, what else, forum. At first try, installation failed. But after asking Simple:Press support forums, I was told to adjust memory limit on my php (server), and if I can’t do it (like in my case), I can disable some plugins (which I did). Nothing much on the forum yet since the site hasn’t yet been promoted that much.
Another big puzzle in my mind was the theme of the website (design). I want to create my own theme, but I am only beginning to learn and was not successful on all of the attempts I made (still needs practice). I looked for free themes and tested it with the forums. Some are too narrow, some doesn’t support widgets, etc.. I encountered the theme that is currently used on the website (credit goes to jauhari.net). I edited the theme to suite the intent of the site (adjusted footer, column width for forum, etc.). It was my first time to dig that deep into the “codes” and I was very happy I was able to do it.
There are still a lot of tweaking to be done on the theme. But I’ll do it slowly and when I get more info from the Association.
One of the biggest part of the website is the webhost (server where all the files are, etc.). Fortunately, a colleague whom I helped on her thesis (a website also) has an abandoned web space from msweb networks (a Philippine based web hosting company, where I registered my domain, marvincruz.com) that she used for her thesis. She is not using it anymore and doesn’t have a plan to use it. I asked her if I can use it and she said yes (thanks Apple Vasquez). I will renew the subscription on the hosting since I already moved one of my blog (sundayschooldirector.co.cc) there.
I learned a lot of things on this “project”.
- Get a good hosting service (I tried it on some free hosting services but it failed). I attempted to use my space here at driphost, but I am reserving the last domain available for another blog.
- Get a good internet connection. I tried setting up the website at home (and my net is a headache), and everything just screws up. I sneaked the setup in the office (during avail time).
- Research, read, read, read, read, read,… you’ll learn lot of things through reading.
- Don’t be shy to ask for support in the forums… they are there to help..
- Be imaginative/creative… that’s where my struggle is during and currently on the design…. go to be more imaginative.
- Ask for feedback.
There are still a lot of things to do on that website. I hope people would post their feedbacks on the forum.
BTW, that website is open for all Alumni, students, former and current faculty and staff and Pastors of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Philippines.
Some screen shot of the website:
The website can be accessed at: http://pts-alumni.info