These pages were originally set up in summer 2017 by Ute (ute [at] tonica-aarhus.dk) to replace Tonica’s old home page, mainly because it had run into security problems. The gorgeous front page image is due to Lene Holmboe Sørensen and Louise Lind Elbro.
It took me uncountable many hours to set up these pages because I had no experience whatsoever, up to having written some pages in plain html before. Therefore I would like to share a few technical details in case you are in the same situation and need to set up or replace an orchestra home page without previous experience. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
The backbone of these pages is wordpress, apparently the most popular “content management system” (CMS). Why use a cms at all? Well, the old pages used some kind of cms, and it does make it easier to update a page for people who are not confident with html. Why not other cms, like Joomla or Typo3? After some discussion with experienced web masters in our orchestra (Anders who hosted these pages in the development period 🙂 and Jacob who administrated the old pages for several years), the choice was wordpress, because it seems easiest to update contents for non-administrators.
WordPress (like other cms) separates the content of a page and what the page looks like. The looks are described and coded in a theme. Having seen the home page of Aarhus Amatørsymfoniorkester, I chose the same theme, Tortuga, because of its clear look. I also stole their idea to show the next rehearsal on the front page :-). There are many more sophisticated themes out in the endless forest of wordpress themes. You can just start out with one of the standard themes and set up your content, the look can be adjusted later. I changed the look of Tortuga and adjusted it to match the colours of the old pages by writing a child theme. Added a gradient background following the description I found here.
Plugins are useful additions to wordpress that provide particular functions. Some of these functions are for administration only and not seen on the page, and others are for “user experience”. I have used about 20 plugins, all of them are free. Here are a few that may be useful for you:
- Event List: this is the machine behind the concert calendar and our activities. You can define categories for the events (like concert and rehearsal) and display events by category. There is a backend editor for events, but it also allows to import a csv (excel) file with dates. Very handy for rehearsals.
- File Away: a powerful plugin for organizing internal material. You cannot see it in action here unless you log in to the member area. I use it to create download areas for internal documents and for pdfs of sheet music written by our composers to be used in upcoming concerts. As a bonus, the same plugin is used to enable our archivists to upload sheet music. You can also use it for pictures and such. It is even possible to allow creating (sub)folders from the front end (what you see as a visitor or logged in visitor on the web page).
- Media Library Folders: I did not want the many old internal documents to be crammed into one folder, but neatly organized in subfolders. Because wordpress needs to make an entry in its database for every media file, this is not trivial to achieve. By default, all uploaded files are organized in folders by upload month/year. The media library folders plugin allows to set up a more sensible structure and move/copy etc files into subfolders.
- TablePress: another gem visible only to logged in members. I use it to display member directory and the list of our huge archive of printed sheet music as a sortable table. It comes with a backend interface that makes it easy to update the tables, edit / delete / add entries. You can either set up a table from scratch, or import an excel table. If you live in a country with non-english characters, make sure to save the table as “utf 8 unicode”. Enquote text with double quotes and save as csv. It might work with xls or xlsx, but this is still experimental as of 08/2017. I actually found it much easier to get the csv right with Libreoffice than with MS Office.
- Polylang: that is what I used for switching between Danish and English. Maybe not first priority for you, but it was a wish for me as expatriate to make at least part of these pages accessible without Google translate to people who are new in Denmark.To change the link in the footer, I used the little plugin polylang-conditional .