Adding a Contact Form to your Site

There are two main options to have people contacting you through your OpenCUNY site. Both options are plugins: WP Jetpack and Contact Form 7. With either option, the end result is an email generated to you.

(of course, you could always go with posting an email address instead of a form, and if you want to avoid spam you could write the address out like yourname [at] gmail [dot] com)

Contact Form 7 is the more “old school” way to do this. It’s a plugin you activate specifically for contact forms. WP Jetpack (read more here) is a suite of plugins all put in the same place, and is constantly adding more functionality; they have recently brought in contact forms into their special features. Jetpack is more streamlined and simpler, but Contact Form 7, though more complex, allows you a bit more flexibility and customization.

The first step for either option is to install the plugins while in the dashboard of your site. Look for their names and then click activate. Once Jetpack is activated, follow the steps here to set it up. Once Contact Form 7 is activated you will see a new option in your Dashboard sidebar called “Contact”.

If going with the Jetpack option, in your Dashboard click Jetpack –> Settings. You’ll find “Contact Form” in the list and you should click Activate. Once you do this, when you now open the edit view of a post or page, you will see this option available to you:

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.25.32 AMThe form builder that pops up when you click on Add Contact Form will walk you through setting up your contact form, and to which email address(es) your form should send. And that’s it! (Note: Choose this option if you would like your form content to be sent to multiple email addresses because it is more buggy with Contact Form 7 when sending to multiple people).

Contact Form 7 works a little differently. In Contact Form 7, you create a form independent of a post, and then you later embed the contact form code into any post or page. This might be a better option if you have a very complex contact form where you are asking the person contacting you to fill out a lot of information–and you want to have this information displayed in various pages on your site. In Jetpack, you would have to recreate this in every post by clicking on Add Contact Form and adding extra areas to each form. However, in Contact Form 7, you just do this once, and then can embed the same form in as many places as you like. You can even add the contact form into a widget area to display in your site’s sidebar!

When in your dashboard, click Contact–> Add New. Contact Form 7 displays in HTML. The default is already set up to a basic contact form.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.34.22 AMIf you would like to add more information you can use the buttons to generate new HTML for you, or if you know how to write in HTML, you can go ahead and write it out yourself.

Once you have done this, you will want to paste the contact form shortcode in to your post, page, or widget area. You can find your shortcode by clicking in your sidebar Contact –> Contact Forms.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.41.47 AM

And remember to contact your OpenCUNY Coordinators with any questions. You can use our contact form to get in touch (which we built using Contact Form 7).


Professional Website Basics: Posting Your Academic Bio & CV

This post will guide you through the basics of publishing your academic bio and CV on your own OpenCUNY site. In this tutorial, you will also learn how to activate and use plugins, format a custom menu, and change your basic website settings. At the end, you’ll learn how to further build on these steps.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

  • You’ll need to be an OpenCUNY participant and have an OpenCUNY website where you can build. You can sign up for a username and/or create a new website here.
  • You’ll need an academic bio to post.
  • You’ll need a version of your curriculum vitae that you can post online. The CV section of this post will further discuss formatting possibilities for this document.

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How to Choose a Theme: 5 Tips

Especially when you’re building a new website, you might be thinking a lot about how your site should look. In WordPress, the look of the website is largely governed by its theme (learn more of the WordPress lingo here). With a number of themes available on OpenCUNY and many thousands more built for WordPress (that you can request we make available), how do you choose? This post is written not only to help you decide, but also to give you some general ideas about how to make that decision alongside theme suggestions. If you’d like to discuss any of this further, feel free to email us! Continue reading

I Want to Run A Conference–What Next?

The OpenCUNY Coordinator for Organizing and Action is here to help you work through what you could do to use OpenCUNY in your conference planning, not just to get your information online, but also to help you streamline the organizing and make it easier for you!

OpenCUNY can help you with registration; there are various ways of using forms on an OpenCUNY site.

OpenCUNY also can help promotion of your conference with various social media integration into your site.

We also can set up contact forms on your site to standardize how participants communicate with you.

Want to save paper? Work with OpenCUNY coordinators to make dynamic mobile friendly conference programs.

Alumni on OpenCUNY: 3 Tips

In short, yes, you can use OpenCUNY as an alum. OpenCUNY is created by and for The Graduate Center, CUNY students, and we know that GC connections and projects often continue after graduation. We strongly support our alums and their projects that continue to build on existing work, but we ask that alums keep in mind that our resources are limited and act accordingly when possible. The following three tips detail responses to questions that we often receive from alumni. Read more! →

I Am In Charge of an Organization–What Next?

Are you a chair of a DSC Chartered Organization? Are you thinking of starting a DSC Chartered Org? OpenCUNY can support you in the creation of a website for your organization. We can also give you access to a site previously created for your Chartered Org. If you don’t have an OpenCUNY account, you can create one, along with a site. You can read about how to use OpenCUNY, WordPress (the system on which OpenCUNY runs), and learn the “lingo”. Read more! →

Check Your Spam: 3 Tips & PSA

Spam comments aren’t just annoying—they’re potentially dangerous and a strain on our system. Read more to find out how you can do your part to keep OpenCUNY safe and running smoothly! Read more! →

Password Protecting Your Materials & Documents

Note: This post was created out of a demonstration for the Beyond the Blog: Making Your (Digital) Teaching Portfolio event. Further resources on teaching portfolios from the event can be found here.

When you’re posting materials online, sometimes you don’t want everything to be publicly visible to everyone. Other than setting a site-wide privacy level (see this post for more information), you can specify passwords for your various content: pages, posts, and documents. Read on to learn about password protecting your materials & documents! →

OpenCUNY and WordPress Lingo

It’s almost impossible not to talk in code (pun-intended) when discussing how websites work. This handout explains some of the terms we often use when speaking about WordPress and OpenCUNY.

Open-source: Software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. WordPress is a free and open-source blogging tool and content-management system (CMS).

Content-Management System (CMS): Software that allows you to create, publish, and edit web content from an single user interface supported by underlying computer code. WordPress, is an open-source CMS specifically designed as a tool for blogging and OpenCUNY is a student-run and supported Wordpress installation for The Graduate Center, CUNY community (broadly-defined) who work, create, dream on OpenCUNY. Terms of Participation: OpenCUNY’s governance document that can be shaped according to the will of the participants.

Back-end and Dashboard: Front-end is what you see when you’re browsing the Internet and happen upon a website: all the coding languages and scripts come together to show you a website in a particular way. Back-end is a term for getting behind and inside the front-end where you can create, edit, and build what you see on the front-end. On WordPress, you work in a back-end environment called the Dashboard where you create, edit, and build the different parts of your site.

The following five sets of terms are important elements you work with in the Dashboard, reachable via a menu bar on the left-hand side.

Pages: One of the two most common types of content on a WordPress/OpenCUNY site. Pages are undated and best used to publish information that does not often change, such as an “About Us” page.

Posts: One of the two most common types of content on a WordPress/OpenCUNY site. Posts are organized by date, category, and tag. Posts are often what you encounter when you see a series of articles one after another such as a blog or a news site.

Categories and Tags: Two methods of organizing posts. Categories tend to be broad and tags tend to be more specific. Categories are usually used for navigational purposes (i.e. you may have a menu on your site that points to all upcoming events). Tags are usually used for users to search. A post about a meeting discussing Karl Marx’s Capital for a socialist reading group website might be categorized as “meeting” and tagged as “Karl Marx,” “Capital”. Someone searching for “Karl Marx” will come up with any articles or blog posts with the tag, but also the event.

Theme (in the Appearance menu): A theme is a collection of files that structures how your content will be visually represented on your website. Some questions determined by a theme: Where will the title of my site go and how will it look? How and where can the pages and posts of my site be seen? A site begins with a default theme, which can be changed in the Theme Sub-menu. Some of the most popular themes, because they’re great to create with as a new or more advanced participant, are the WordPress-created themes, named after the year in which they debuted (e.g. Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve).

Plugin: A plugin provides additional functionality not coded directly into WordPress. For example, you might want to include your Twitter feed on your webpage or create a registration form for an event you’re running. You can browse and activate the plugins you want to use on your website in the Plugins Menu on the Dashboard.

Sidebar, Columns, Widgets (in the Appearance menu): Most theme layouts have multiple columns, one of which contains main content (pages, posts) and one or more of which is a sidebar where associated information or plugins can live. Any of the things that can live in a sidebar or other space (sometimes the bottom footer of a website) in the theme’s layout are called widgets. Some of these widgets are built-in features of WordPress (e.g. list of categories, list of recent posts) whereas others are plugins (e.g. Twitter feed, list of items in a Google Calendar).

PHP (aka Hypertext Preprocessor) and MySQL (pronounced “My Sequel”, aka Structured Query Language): These are the coding and programming bones that WordPress is built in and runs on. PHP is the server-side scripting language and MySQL is the open-source relational database management system. The operations for how WordPress runs are written in PHP, while MySQL is the database that stores all the blog information, including posts, comments, metadata, etc. Learn more about the other coding and technical components that make up WordPress:

Metadata: Associated information about data. For a post or page you create, some of the associated metadata include author, date created, date modified, etc

Non-proprietary Resources from Across the Web

While OpenCUNY can provide free, open-source space for your websites, you may find yourself yearning for non-proprietary alternatives elsewhere in your Internet life. Or, having become more of a WordPress wizard, you may find yourself wanting to learn more about the ins and outs of technology. We want to point out a few resources we know about and encourage you to suggest others…

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Welcome to OpenCUNY: 5 Ways to Participate

OpenCUNY is a a student-based and student-organized digital, open-source platform. And the folks behind it seek to empower students to create content to share and to collaborate. Students on OpenCUNY are participants—not users. They can shape the governance documents and actively take part in the community. Here are five participatory features of OpenCUNY: Read more! →