Project 1: Build a Web Portal

Project 1: Build a Web Portal for the Course

Worth 20% of your final grade

Important Dates

  • Jan 30: Draft site for class discussion (draft and providing feedback counts as the in-class writing for that day)
  • Feb 4: Due date for Project #1 (no in-class writing for that day)
  • Feb 11: Deadline for Project #1 (the last day you can submit your work)

The Project Assignment


For this project, you will design and create a web portal where you will publish the work that you do for this course. The project requires you to write with, and for, digital media, to use digital images, video, and audio, and to recognize and use basic HTML and CSS syntax.

You’ll create your web portal using WordPress, which will provide the basic tools you need so that you can focus on your multimodal design and learning the basics of HTML and CSS coding.


Step 1: Create a WordPress blog

Setup a Blogs@VT site (or a self-hosted blog) for your course Web Portal. Name your site something that we’ll be able to connect to you. I suggest you do NOT name it with your actual name. You will probably want to use your name for an official portfolio site.

Go to the Users tab on the left and then choose Your Profile to update your profile and login information. You can change the way that your name is listed with each post, for instance. You can also change your password on this page.

Go through the Settings tab and update the information. In particular, be sure that you

  • Go to the General setting and give your site a unique tagline and fix the timezone.
  • Go to the Discussion setting and decide when you want the site to email you.
  • Go to the Permalinks setting and choose the format that you want.

Choose a backup plan for yourself. Virginia Tech has a backup system, but it’s always good to have your own system in case something goes wrong. The easiest option is to copy and paste things out into files on your Google Drive, a flash drive, or your own computer. Dropbox works too.

Step 2: Customize your blog

Use the various tools within WordPress to customize your site so that it represents you. While the work that you do for the class needs to be well-done, it doesn’t have to be formal. Choose whatever style suits your personality and the message you want to share with everyone in the classroom about who you are and what you care about. 

  1. Begin by choosing a Theme for your blog (under the Appearance tab on the left). There are over 100 to choose from and many can be customized with your own photos and your favorite colors. You can also think about the layout that you choose. For instance, where do you want the sidebars to be and why?
  2. Use the Widgets (also under the Appearance tab on the left) to customize the information that appears in your sidebar(s), header, and footer (as applicable). 
  3. Use Menus (again under the Appearance tab on the left) to set up the pull-down menus for your site. You’ll want to make each of the required elements for the site easy to get to by using this option.

If you need help, try the Blogs@VT Documentation and FAQs. Also remember that you can use the step-by-step tutorials at The WordPress Essential Training with Morten Rand-Hendriksen tutorial probably has a video for everything you need.

Step 3: Set-up your content

You’ll use the posts area of your WordPress site for any daily posts that you do. Periodically, I will ask you to post something on your blog, rather than (or in addition to) in the Google+ Community.  Google+ is a great place for whole class conversations, but your WordPress site will be an awesome place for collecting and archiving your own work. You can think of it as an online scrapbook for the course.  To begin, please add a Welcome post as the first post on your blog. In this post, tell readers a little bit about the site and your goals for creating and sharing things for the course. Be sure that you give credit for any resources (like an image) that you use.

In addition to periodic blog posts, you need to add several pages to the site:

  • an about page, where you tell visitors about yourself and the site.
  • a site information page (like a colophon in a book), where you tell visitors about the tools that you used on the site and the design decisions you made. If you need to document special resources, you can do so here as well.
  • pages for each class project. For now you can have placeholder pages for each of these assignments:
    • Interrogate an Interface
    • Remix a Story
    • Literacy Narrative

Step 4: Write your project reflection

In Scholar, you will write a short (about 1 page) message to me that tells me the URL to your website and then explains the decisions you made as you created your website. You can talk about content, organization, and design—telling me about what you chose and why you chose it.

This letter is your chance to tell me whatever you want me to know before I grade your project. Among other topics, you may want to answer the following questions:

  • Why did you choose to organize the information the way you did as opposed to some other possible organization?
  • Why did you choose the design that you did?
  • How did you decide about the visual elements that you have included?
  • How is this website personal and unique?

You can write this memo in class on the due date, Feb 4, but you might want to create a Google document where you track some of your decisions as you make them.

Random Examples for Inspiration

Grading Criteria

  • Deliverables: Does the website include all the required posts and pages? Does the project show effort?
  • Content:
    • Does the site use multimodal elements effectively to communicate the information?
    • Does the look and feel of the site fit the information that it includes?
    • Does the site’s linguistic tone match the audience, purpose, and overall presentation?
    • Does the visual and spatial content fit well with the site and its audience and purpose?
    • Does the information on the site personalize the information adequately? That is, does it help us see you as an individual? Do you stand out as different from the other students in the class?
  • Design:
    • Are all images clear? Are they correctly shaped, cropped, and sized? Are they placed effectively in the project?
    • Are font, text sizes, and color schemes implemented consistently throughout the project?
    • Are “white” space, graphic elements, and alignment used effectively?
    • Is the overall design clear, appropriate to the audience and purpose, and easy to use?
    • Does the design and the design elements add to (rather than distract from) the information?
  • Correctness:
    • Does everything work (e.g., no broken links, the images load properly)?
    • Has all content been finalized and proofread?
    • Are sources cited accurately?
    • Are effective alt tags used for images?
    • Are spelling, grammar, and punctuation correct (or if relevant, appropriate for the situation)?