Time to Design and Build your Website
With the good preparation you have done in the get ready part of the website kit you should now be in a position to start to design and build your U3A website. This is very much a creative process and the website you desgin and build will be unique for your own U3A.
As mentioned in the start of the website kit the website building tool that will be used is a product called Weebly. There are many other website building tools that are just as popular or even more popular than Weebly, but the one thing that Weebly usually comes out best with is ease of use. So regardless of your prior technical knowledge or skill, you can use Weebly to set up your U3A website.
Weebly is not an application that is installed on your computer, it is used through your internet browser such as Safari, Chrome, Firefox or just about any other that you use. It also does not matter if you are using an Apple computer, Windows computer, a Desktop or laptop. Any computer will be fine although you may find that the larger the screen the easier it is to move objects around and adjust photos.
Whilst it is possible to do, it is not recommended to build your website using a tablet such as an iPad.
It should also be noted that Weebly allows you to design and build a website for free and never pay a cent. However, by paying an annual fee for the hosting of the website there are many advantages which will be explained in detail later.
So let’s get started and by the time you have been through the following 6 steps you will have your website up and running for the whole world to see.
Step 1 – Sign Up for a Weebly Account
You will firstly need to go to the Weebly site which is weebly.com.au to create your U3A Weebly account which will need an email address and password. As mentioned in the get ready section, using a personal email is not a good idea so we always suggest to use a business email.
When you go to weebly.com.au your screen should look similar to that below and you will need to click on the blue button Create Your Website.
You will then need to enter the relevant details with your name, email address and creating a new password for your weebly account. Select Australia as the country, then click Sign up for free.
Next you will be presented with a screen with 2 options for the kind of website you wish to create.
Click I want a personal website.
An online store can be added later should you want to sell anything online like membership. However, we recommend MyU3A as the Business Administration application for a U3A. More on that later.
Step 2 – Select a Theme
After your Weebly account is created you are asked to select a theme for the website you are going to create. A theme is like a template where alot of the design work has been done for you and so you only need to make changes by adding pieces and removing pieces. If there were no templates to choose from everyone would need to build a website from scratch like a blank sheet of paper.
It should be noted at this point that you should not worry too much about the theme you select as this can easily be changed later, as many times as you like.
Some point of difference in the themes incude the position of the menu whether it is on the top or side, some look clean and simple whilst others look busy, some have more white space for easy to read texts whilst others have the texts over the pitcures.
As you will see, there are many themes to choose from so take your time to look around or just choose by clicking the one that will be used in this kit which is the “wag&paws’ which has a dog on the front.
Once you click on a theme you will be taken to the Theme Preview screen where you can click on the different pages and if you are unhappy with it then press the X in the top left corner, or if you wish to use this as your theme to start with you click the blue button Start Editing.
Step 3 – Choose your website domain
Once you have picked a Theme, you will see a screen that want you to select your domain name. The domain name is that actual unique address of your website and often this is the name of your U3A in this situation. For example, myownu3a then press Search. Weebly will search if the domain is available for you to use.
After Weebly checks your domain name it will make some suggestions that you can use. The first group of suggestions are using a professional domain which you have to pay for or have already paid for. The subdomain option of using a free weebly.com will be given to you which we will choose for the moment.
Once you have chosen the subdomain, in this example, myownu3a.weebly.com it will be set up for you and a Subdomain setup complete screen will be shown.
You have now finished all the setup and it is time to start to have fun with editing your website.
Step 4 – Design your Website in the Weebly Editor
The Weebly website editor is the place where you design and build your U3A website by adding in the texts, pictures, maps and forms that you have been planning in the get ready stage. This is where your website will come to life and where you will probably spend most of your time maintaining your U3A website over the years to come.
The following video has been produced by Weebly as a beginner’s guide and is worth watching as it provides you with a live demonstration on how to actually use the editor as well as an overview of the different tabs. If you prefer you can skip over the video and continue on.
When you start editing, you will automatically be taken to the homepage of your website, and in our case here in this website kit we selected “wag&paws’ which has a dog on the front. As mentioned earlier, building a website on Weebly is incredibly easy. On the left side of your screen, you will see a whole panel, full of options to edit and design your website.
These are basic Weebly elements, such as adding titles, text boxes, images, etc. Moreover, you’ll also find more advanced elements as well, such as adding products for eCommerce, Youtube media, social media icons, and so on.
Using the ‘Element Menu’, on the left hand side, simply drag and drop your chosen media icon anywhere on the page. You can throw text, videos, buttons, and more anywhere you like. Furthermore, any icons that have a lightning bolt on them means you need to upgrade to a paid version to use them.
Editing Text Boxes
Weebly is a ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWYG) website builder. This means you can click and edit, as well as drag and drop media, without needing to know any code. So to update the text, simply click the box and type.
When you wish to delete an element, simply click on the element, and look for the small blue cross that appears in the top right corner of the editing box. Click on that cross, the box will turn red, and you’ll have the option to delete that element.
Changing the Layout and Colour
If you don’t like the background image, you can click on it and you’ll get several options on how you can change it. Similarly, you can also change the color scheme of the theme from the ‘Theme’ tab on the top of your screen.
Making New Pages and Deleting Old Ones
Also, on the top of the screen, you’ll see some other tabs as well, along with the ‘Theme’. One of these is the ‘Pages’ tab. From here, you can add pages to your website. When you click on this tab, you’ll further get more options on what type of page and header type you want to add.
Besides that, if you’re not feeling great with some page, you can even delete it. Simply click on the page you don’t like, and select delete from the navigation menu.
Step 5 – Settings including SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
Before we publish your U3A website there are some settings that we need to point out to be aware of and some you need to change. To get to the website settings you need to press the Settings tab and then you will see the setting categories on the left hand side. Let’s go through these now.
Site Address is your U3A website address which up to now is still the free one such as myownu3a.weebly.com. This can be changed to a domain you have purchased elsewhere or purchased in Weebly, but more on this when we discuss upgrading to a paid Weebly plan.
Site Title should be the title you wish to give your website such as “MyTown U3A”. Make sure you change the default which is “My site”.
Site Category should be left as Business. There are other categories but none would be relevant to any U3A.
SSL should be enabled by default so nothing to do here.
Favicon is the little symbol some Internet browers show in the Tab, and this defaults to W for Weebly until upgraded to a paid Weebly plan.
Site Password is a feature which only allows people on the Internet to see your website if they know a password. This should be left blank for your U3A website.
Navigation has a tick box for when you have too many web pages to be displayed in your menu so a tick will make the excess pages group under a More heading. Leave this ticked but if you have 6 web pages or less you should not be impacted by this.
Archive – should not be available until you publish your website and is used as a way to save you Weebly files. You will not need to archive you website in the normal course of events.
Site Formatting should be set to:
Date Format :DD/MM/YYY
Time Format: 12 or 24 hour
Time Zone: Brisbane
Site Language: English
Cookie Notification can be left as default as seen above.
Authorize Adsense can be left as default.
Un-publish allows you to remove you website from the Internet immediately. After you publish your U3A website for the first time a button will appear here so that you can unpublish your website. Normally this would not be done unless you really wanted to remove your website.
To enter the details for the search engine optimisation you must click SEO on the left hand side.
Site Description will be the line that is displayed in the Google search for people looking for your website. This is usually one or two short sentences just to gain attention and hopefully then a click to go to your U3A website.
Meta Keywords help google match search words that people type in order to find your U3A website. Some suggestions have been included here with the mandatory ones being your U3A name, town or city, as well as some or all of the classes you hold. All of these are brief key words separated by a comma.
Footer Code and Header Code should be left blank here for the moment but are explained in more detail in the beyond basics section of this website kit.
Hide site from search engines can be turned on if you wish your website not to appear in Google searches, This could be turned on when you develop and build your website but most people will just leave this turned off.
Editors, Members, My Apps and Blog
These are explained in the beyond basics section of the website kit.
Step 6 – Publish your Website
Congratulations on getting this far, you are done setting up your website and all that’s left to do is publish it. Remember that you will always be able to come back and make changes and republish your website, even if it is in 5 minutes time.
When you publish your website it goes live for the world to see!
To publish your website, go back to the Weebly Editor and go to the Pages tab. In the top-right corner of your screen, you’ll see a bright blue button with the words ‘Publish’. When you click on this, Weebly will start publishing your website, and you’ll see a pop-up confirming it when it’s done.
So now if you go to your internet browser such as chrome and type in the address of the website you have just published you will be able to see it. The free website address we have used here is the from weebly which is myownu3a.weebly.com.
Most U3As and other businesses will choose to use a website address also called a domain that they have purchased rather than keep with the free one from weebly which has the weebly.com in the name. This is explained in detail in the beyond basics section of this U3A website kit.
So well done, you now have your own U3A website on the internet. When you take a look at your website you may choose to make some changes, this is quite normal. Also over time, classes, events, newsletters will all change and need to be added and taken off, so really the website is never really finished and must always be looked after by the webmaster.
To make changes you simply go back into the Weebly editor and go to the pages you would like to change, make the changes and then press the publish button again.
Remember you will need to tell everyone about your website and details about this can be found in the ‘Tell Everyone about your New Website’ Section.