Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Web Sites: How to Avoid Trauma and Triage

Regional contest deadlines are rolling by, and I'm happy to see dozens of web site entries on a dizzying variety of topics.

I'm not so happy, though, when I get a web site URL that has problems. Here are the two biggest issues we're seeing:

1) The web site was not constructed at the NHD Weebly Portal. A number of students have gone to weebly.com directly, set up an account, and created a web site. They're lovely, they're interesting, but they're not rules-compliant. How can I tell? The sites constructed through the NHD Weebly Portal all have numeric URLs, something like http://12345678.nhd.weebly.com.

If your site has a descriptive name--http://laurenssite.nhd.weebly.com--you didn't go through the portal. In which case I have good news and bad news for you.

The good news is that it's not too difficult to reconstruct your site at the NHD Weebly Portal. Go to www.nhd.org, and click on "Start Your Web Site Entry at the NHD Web Portal." This is the only way to create an NHD web site. Really.

The bad news is that you have to recreate your site from scratch. Regular Weebly sites can't be copied over to the NHD Weebly Portal. I've heard from students in this predicament, though, that reconstructing their sites wasn't too bad.

So double-check: look at your web site URL. If it's numeric, you're probably safe (read number 2 below to be sure). If it's not, create a new account at the NHD Weebly Portal and reconstruct your site there. It's the only way your site can get evaluated by judges.

2) Sites aren't published. When you create your web site using the NHD Weebly Portal, you spend lots of time constructing it. When you're ready to take a break, you click in the upper right corner of the screen: either "Publish" or "Close." You must publish the site in order for it to be viewable (by your teachers, your friends, History Day judges). Publishing saves your work, too.

So don't just close your site when you're done working on it; publish it! And don't worry: the numeric URLs that identify NHD sites mean that it's highly unlikely anyone will stumble across yours.

Let's review: Your eight-word mantra for web sites is, Use the NHD Portal and publish your site. Now go check that you're doing it right!

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