So you want to build a website at OSU? Well, the good news is that there are a number of very powerful and free tools you can use. The bad news is that building a website is still hard work, and sorting through the different departments that provide services and the numerous options for getting your content online can be rather daunting.
But we’re going to try to help by providing a single location where you can find everything you need to get started. And if you get stuck, you can always reach out to our team directly with specific questions.
The short quick start guide (service/department):
- Domain name requests – Network Engineering
- Drupal site requests – Central Web Services
- WordPress site requests – Self-service
- Web content support – Web Communications
- Other web hosting requests - Central Web Services
- Training – Central Web Services
- Your personal ONID webspace – Central Web Services
Before you start
Before you begin any website construction or overhaul project, you should first do a little planning:
- Determine the name of your site. It can be a sub-domain: something.oregonstate.edu. It can be off of the root of the site: oregonstate.edu/something. Or it can be a completely new domain: something.org or something.com.
- Make a comprehensive, hierarchical outline of everything you want to have on the site. Gather as much of that content electronically as you can before you begin. This content template (Word) is a great way to start gathering content for our OSU Standard theme.
- Decide who is going to build the site, and more importantly, who is going to be dedicated to maintaining the site. Warning: If you don’t have a full-time employee with at least 25% of their time dedicated to site maintenance, you probably can’t support your own website. It may be better to just have a single page on your parent organization’s website. Sites without owners and maintainers often do more harm than good by providing out of date information.
Domain names and addresses
There are three options for naming your site.
The first and simplest is to use a path off of the main site domain: oregonstate.edu/something. You can request this path via Central Web Services via this form. If you’re going to use Drupal, no need to do anything special…your path will come with your site. Best of all, it’s free.
The next option is a sub-domain: something.oregonstate.edu. This is also free. You can request it here from Network Engineering. It needs to be approved by a committee to ensure it is appropriate for OSU and that there is no overlap with other overall OSU needs.
Finally, you could request a new, non-osu domain if it is appropriate. You’d use the same form as above, and are subject to the same approval. The cost for registering this domain is passed along to your department, so have your index ready.
You may have already registered a domain name elsewhere (GoDaddy), so in that case, you can contact Network Engineering to see about moving that domain to OSU.
Content management system (CMS) sites
Content management makes your life easier. It allows you to distribute the task of maintaining your website to non-web professionals.
You have two choices at OSU for CMS sites: Drupal or WordPress. You can start a new WordPress site without even talking to or emailing a human. It comes with an address already (blogs.oregonstate.edu/something), but you can use the name requesting processes above to set up different redirects.
A new Drupal site is also very easy to request. That can take a day or two to complete after requesting the site. Usually, you will start with a development site, and when that development site is complete and ready for public launch, it is moved to production with a separate request.
CMS sites come with templates. There are templates for each of the colleges and their departments and programs. And there are standard templates for the whole university to use. Can you build your own theme or template? Sure, if you follow our brand guidelines and you do it yourself. At this point, only colleges get custom designed/developed themes and templates. Others who want a custom site instead of using our templates are on their own. We’ll happily review your work and offer any suggestions or guidance we can, though.
You can create, build and edit your own Drupal or WordPress website without any cost. But you’ll need some help (and plenty of time and energy) if you want to do it yourself. Central Web Services offers online training, classes and multi-day Drupal Bootcamp sessions. Web Communications is always available for free consultations.
You can also use the university’s brand guidelines as a reference for how to work with graphics, colors, words and imagery.
Hiring someone to do it for you
At the Web Communications office, we will build sites for you, using OSU’s standard templates. You can view this page to find out about our services and their costs. While we can’t create original content, we can add feature stories and video content, images and text and migrate content from another site. We can also build a site out of content that you provide. We charge $50 per hour for these services.
If you have a more complicated, feature-rich web application that you would like to have developed, there are several choices. Hire your own IT staff or work with Central Web Services or the Business Solutions Group in the College of Business. Any of these options are likely to be quite expensive and require a timeline of up to a year or longer.
Sites outside the CMS
For those creating a site outside the provided CMS systems, you can contact Central Web Services directly. You will receive limited support. This option is only possible if you are or have access to full-time web professionals. Any site you build that represents OSU must follow the brand guidelines.