The Ohio STC community is one of the most resilient and successful communities in the STC. This is a result of the many dedicated volunteers that commit long hours ensuring our community has the resources needed to stay relevant to our members and be valuable to technical communicators, regardless of where they are in their career.
Volunteer opportunities include: Communications, Membership, Newsletter, Programs, GoToMeeting Specialist, Eventbrite Specialist, Networking Lunches and Social Events, Competition, Academic Relations, Honors Chair, Vendor and Sponsor Relations, and Webmaster.
This newsletter is going to share a bit of the responsibilities of the Webmaster/Web team. Our retiring webmaster is Julianne Forsythe, who has done an incredible job of anchoring the web-team’s effort and ensuring our website was clean, accessible, well maintained, and updated with new content.
The webmaster’s responsibilities are a one year term minimum and four to six hours a month, time commitment. The tasks are: develop, manage, and maintain the website, manage hosting and domain registration, and monitor and upgrade WordPress versions and plugins. Implement the site design based on input from the larger Ohio STC team, and generate and revise web pages to keep content current, and research and implement improvements.
Here is one example of a technical issue with which the web team was tasked. During the first half of 2021, Julianne directed the web team as we migrated the site to a new web address (URL).
The NEOSTC had expanded to provide STC access to a larger geographic area than just northeast Ohio. Based on that, we changed our web address (and other branding) to OHIOSTC.org.
Our site is hosted through siteground.com, our development site is godaddy.com. Prior to launching the process we did a complete backup of the site and database and moved it to the dev site.
Step one: We registered ohiostc.org through GoDaddy (our dev site). To start using the URL as our primary URL we transferred the URL from GoDaddy to SiteGround. This is a fairly straightforward process. We get a code from GoDaddy that we provide to SiteGround which validates our ownership of the URL, pay for one year of registration, and the URL moves from one vendor to the other. Once we provided the details, they transfer took about an hour.
Step two: Make sure ohiostc.org points to the correct hosting. We have a dev site that looks like our live site so, we made an innocuous edit to the home page on the dev site. That way when the URL is resolved to the new host, we can confirm it is pointing at the live site, not a development environment. To folks who are familiar with this process, that may be overkill but there is no more sinking feeling than seeing a site stop working properly because you were in the wrong directory.
Step three: Once step one and two are complete and validated, we need to change the URL within WordPress and the mysql database. Here is an image of the WordPress settings screen. The two fields, “WordPress Address” and “Site Address” originally read http://neostc.org/cmswp. All we did was change NEOSTC to OHIOSTC, leaving the rest of the text intact. The challenge is, as soon as you hit save, the site logs you out and if you have fat-fingered (yes that is a proper technical term) anything along the way, you are now locked out of your site. For this reason, before making this edit, we open the mysql database that drives our site (image below the General Setting illustration). If there is a problem, that allows us to do a search and fix any errant fields.
Step four: If all goes well, the web team sends an email to all the other volunteers sharing the update. This (changing a URL) is a simple task but one that, because of the risks, one should take slowly and methodically.
This is the type of technical, back-end work the web team takes on, over and above updating the site content.