Building a Website

TEAM 3711 here, we are trying to build a website for our page. Suggestion for how we go about this? It there and particular web builder site better than other? Write all the HTML? Anywhere we could get a free domain? or cheap?

Any advise would be great appreciated!

Lucas is an easy place to start.

There are so many places to start.

You don’t need all the bells and whistles, you can start with something easy like a blogger site like Bill Miller uses. It’s free, easy and will get you running in a few minutes

Check with your school, They may allow you space on their site.

Approach sponsors or other local businesses. This is an easy way to help the team. Anybody that does web design loves to teach and share. It may bring on a new sponsor.

If you are interested in the website award, follow the guidelines that FIRST publishes. It is a great place to get started.

I recommend wordpress or ruby on rails. Both open source web platforms make building, editing, publishing, sharing and other functionality easy. As you get more experienced you can build your own themes or widgets and once you are extremely knowledgeable you can move to a pure CSS or HTML5 based web page.

Our webpage is entirely wordpress

Might be some help here:

I’m Team 1124’s webmaster (we won Best Website at CTR), and I’ll try and give a few good words of advice.

I would start by reading the presentation Jenny linked to - it has a lot of really good information - and by looking at the 2012 Website Award Guidelines (note: don’t design your website to win the award, design your website to be a central hub for team resources/communication. With that being said, the award rubric is a good standard to judge your site against to make sure you have everything you need). Then, do some “market research” by looking at other award winning websites and start to plan out your own site. Once you get some ideas for your own site, start to draw it out on paper. Be sure to think it out thoroughly and flesh out as much of the design as possible before you start writing it.

As for building the actual site, it really depends on what you know and what you’re comfortable with - just remember: content is king. My personal recommendation is to use PHP for servers-side scripting, and use HTML/Javascript/JQuery for client side stuff (read: avoid ASP). I’d also recommend that you use a CMS (List of PHP CMS’s) for managing your content. A few people on my team (myself included) wrote our own CMS and it’s worked great for us, but that’s not right for every team. From what I understand, Bluehost accounts have some tools integrated for building your site, and Wordpress is always a viable option. And as your knowledge builds, you can custom code more and more of your site.

I’d also check out this post, where I go into a little more detail about writing a good website.

The best domain/hosting service I know of is Bluehost (it’s pretty cheap too, $6/month). I work on a few websites on bluehost accounts, (Team 1124’s being one of them) and I’ve had no problems at all with any of their services.

Try the easy to use it builds great websites such as:
my team website (3339)
team 1578 -

look at the addresses, they are a little bit long but have a meanning

…but know that it absolutely positively will not work for people who do not use Flash (either by choice or by iOS restriction).

Our web design team lead Datwaan wants to use the kids time on the web team as a time to learn a skill so he makes it a point for them to learn to do web design the hard way by writing it all out in HTML. It’s a pain in the butt but what’s the point in doing this if not going to learn a skill that you can arm yourself with when you have to take on the real world? You’re gonna need all the help you can get nowadays.

How you create your website depends on the skills your team currently has and, potentially what skills your team wants to have.

If no one on your team has prior web design experience, you should look into CMS solutions, like Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, ect. Many website hosting providers have “one-click installers” that make it easy to install and setup and many CMS’ have a plethora of themes/templates available that can get you started.

If you are fortunate enough to have someone with prior web design experience, your solutions should be to do as much custom designing and coding as possible.

(Best Solution) If your team would like to learn more web design, I would start with hand coding HTML/CSS and possibly even trying to replicate other websites (locally on your own computer, do not publish online, obviously). I taught myself a lot replicating websites like Yahoo!, CNN, ect.

For domains and hosting, you get what you pay for; there are really no free services to make a quality robotics team website. However, hosting and domains are not too expensive and should be allotted in your team’s budget. Services like,, (I’ve heard) will get you hosting and a domain for under $100/year.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me and I will do my best to help.

Wordpress (as already suggested) is a really awesome platform. A couple reasons I would suggest it is:

  1. It has a large community that uses it and has a very useful collection of plugins
  2. It is based upon php, CSS, and HTML so you can learn code to your heart’s content
  3. It is very easy to add content to your website, even if you don’t know code

I have the same way of thinking. If you take a prepackaged theme, a drag and drop interface, and an automatic up-loader to package it all up and send it to your host, I think you’re really selling yourself short.

Take the time to learn how to hand code html. Start with tables, move on to divs and css, and before long you’ll have a functional website built 100% by yourself.

There are a number of websites that say “we coded this site completely by ourselves” but when you view-source on them the code is not human-readable, it does not have tab overs or logical spacing: it’s clearly an authoring tool that actually coded it. I’d never hold that against them, it’s a valid way to build a page: but have they really learned the behind-the-scenes functioning?

Don’t get me wrong - there are reasons to use tools. Creating a thousand image picture gallery, or pasting in embed code for twitter and facebook I understand. Please though - don’t limit yourself to an authoring tool. Learn HTML - you’ll be better for it.