Georgia Tech Webmasters Knowledge Base

Georgia Tech Webmasters Knowledge Base

General-purpose web development resources can be found in the knowledge base, and anyone in the Georgia Tech community can make additions and updates to the knowledge base, so please feel free to share your web knowledge, experiences, tips and tricks.  If you have questions or would like to submit a correction, update, or suggestion for a non-editable page, please contact the site maintainers.

Looking for Drupal specific information?  Anything related to Drupal is kept on the Georgia Tech Drupal Users Group website.

Knowledge Base Top Level Categories

root Tue, 03/12/2013 - 15:56


klp Wed, 01/28/2015 - 14:59

Accessibility in short is the process of making websites and website content percievable and usable by people with disabilities.

With Georgia Tech receiving federal funding, all colleges, schools, research centers and other departments and divisions of the institute are legally required to adhere to the official accessibility standards defined in Section 508 of the Workforce Rehabilitaion Act.  These standards define how information is to be presented in websites and other online materials so that users with disabilities can still properly access that information.

As a good starting point for anyone creating web content, the Ivan Allen College has provided a short fifteen minute Accessibility Primer that addresses the most common problems and how to prevent or correct them.  It covers accessibility issues with images, headings, lists, page layouts, navigational aides, and handling audio and video content.  In addition, the WebAIM organization provides simple explanations of the general principles of accessibility.

Accessibility Sub-Topics

Accessibility Compliance Resources

Accessibility Compliance Resources
afrank30 Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:35

AMAC (On Campus Accessibility Organization)

AMAC (On Campus Accessibility Organization)
esembrat3 Wed, 02/18/2015 - 14:55

AMAC is a Georgia Tech entity operated by the College of Architecture that provides accessibility support to the entire University System of Georgia. However, its services are also made available to entities outside of the university system on a subscription basis.

They can help with any accessibility compliance concerns you or your faculty might have.

Using AMAC

Each campus department/unit that wants to use AMAC services has to become a 'member' of AMAC.

The person to talk with is Kimberly Allen (, who can help a department/unit get enrolled as an AMAC members.

Registration Point of Contacts

Per AMAC's request:

[AMAC recommends] that each school create an account to manage the budget manipulations in order to receive payment for services that we render. Then the school can let [Kimberly Allen] know who needs access to order when the membership application in completed.

Registration Process

To register, follow the directions below:

  • Open a web browser and navigate to the AMAC Join page.
  • Fill out the Become a Member form, choose your membership type ( Georgia Board of Regents Post - Secondary) and select Next to view the agreement.
  • Select the check boxes at the bottom, (print for your records) and electronically sign the membership agreement when you submit.
  • AMAC will contact you with login credentials to the ordering system.


Georgia Tech / USG pricing for transcription and captioning services from AMAC:

  • Transcript only: $1.40/min.
  • Captions only (transcript provided by requester): $1.20/min.
  • Transcript and captions: $2.60/min.

Captioning & Transcription Questions

Please forward all captioning and transcription questions for AMAC to their Captioning Services team ( ).

Accessibility Tools

Accessibility Tools
afrank30 Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:10

Accessible Documents and Files

Accessible Documents and Files
esembrat3 Wed, 09/09/2015 - 08:15

This page lists resources for accessibility for files and documents attached to your website.

Accessible Documents and Files Sub-Topics

Creating Accessible Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and PDF Documents (Video Tutorial)

Creating Accessible Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and PDF Documents (Video Tutorial)
esembrat3 Wed, 09/09/2015 - 08:16

This one hour presentation was provided via Adobe Connect and incorporates a demo of JAWS screen reader accessing a Word document (Demo 1 which begins at timestamp 8:11).

For those who may be new to Adobe Connect:

  • Closed captioning is provided in the Captioning Pod
  • Adobe Connect Accessibility Features
  • The Events Index (visually located on left side of Adobe Connect screen) contains a list of topics covered during the webinar
    • Each topic can be expanded to access direct hyperlinks to that specific section

Courtesy of AccessGA.


The checklists from are available via the USG Accessibility Tutorial, under Training, Intermediate/Advanced and Creating New Content.

All About Image Carousels

All About Image Carousels
esembrat3 Tue, 09/01/2015 - 08:49

While carousels are traditionally seen as a good way to squeeze more content into a limited amount of screen space, studies (see Should I Use a Carousel?) show that site visitors are most likely to ignore anything beyond the first slide, and a poorly built carousel can irritate users, leaving them with negative feelings towards your site and your organization.

From an accessibility standpoint, it is possible to build an accessible carousel, but this usually has to be done from scratch, as most popular carousel widgets (e.g. Flexslider) have been unwilling or unable to update their code to make it properly accessible.  If you are interested in building your own carousel system, the AccessIQ tutorial and W3C tutorial will give you a good framework to help you code your system properly.

So, in short, for the time being it's best to avoid carousels whenever possible, especially with Drupal sites, as there is yet to be a really simple, easy to configure carousel system for Drupal.


On-Campus 508 Compliance Testing

On-Campus 508 Compliance Testing
esembrat3 Thu, 08/06/2015 - 14:34

From the Office of Information Technology's EIS Quality Assurance Team:

Presently, the EIS Quality Assurance team provides these value-add services to the Institute, both Load Testing and Compliance Testing, at no charge.  However, if a requester wishes to learn how to use the many tools in our toolkit, our team can work with the requester until they become proficient.  It's more of a consultation and testing service.

The EIS Quality Assurance​ team has access to over 1000+ mobile handsets for testing the responsive design web site approach.

Contact Information

Video Captioning and Audio Transcripts

Video Captioning and Audio Transcripts
esembrat3 Fri, 02/13/2015 - 12:51

Georgia Tech is legally required to caption any video content and provide transcripts of any audio-only content used on its websites. This includes video and audio content created for academic (classroom) and non-academic (promotional) purposes.

For a list of possible transcription and captioning services and systems, please see our Video Captioning and Audio Transcription page in our Recommended Systems and Services section.


Community and User Groups

Community and User Groups
esembrat3 Wed, 01/21/2015 - 12:18

Web development is best accomplished when working together with peers.  Lucky for us, Atlanta has a ton of great user groups around town to keep up-to-date with the latest trends, and there are many larger conference events hosted throughout the southeast and the rest of the country.

Groups and Conferences

2018 Web Developer Related Conferences

2018 Web Developer Related Conferences
kp37 Mon, 05/01/2017 - 12:48

This page details upcoming web development related conferences for the upcoming 2018 calendar year.


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To Be Determined

Exhaustive Campus/Conference Lists

2017 Web Developer Related Conferences

2017 Web Developer Related Conferences
kp37 Mon, 10/31/2016 - 15:22

This page details upcoming web development related conferences for the 2017 calendar year.

We also have a page for the 2018 calendar year.







  • N/A



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Exhaustive Campus/Conference Lists

2016 Web Developer Related Conferences

2016 Web Developer Related Conferences
klp Tue, 01/12/2016 - 19:12

This page details upcoming web development related conferences for the 2016 calendar year.

We also have a page for the 2017 calendar year.


  • N/A


  • February 15-17, 2016: DevNexus (Atlanta, GA)





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Exhaustive Campus/Conference Lists

2015 Web Developer Related Conferences

2015 Web Developer Related Conferences
klp Wed, 01/21/2015 - 11:24

This page details upcoming conferences for the 2015 calendar year.


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  • Nov 9-11, 2015: edUI conference (Charlottesville, VA)


  • N/A


  • Great Wide Open (Atlanta, GA - at the Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center)

Exhaustive Campus/Conference Lists

Atlanta User Groups

Atlanta User Groups
esembrat3 Fri, 02/13/2015 - 11:42

This page details a few of the largest user groups here in Atlanta.

Atlanta Web Design Group

The Atlanta Web Design Group (AWDG) is for anyone who makes Websites. Markup, style, code, typography, SEO, e-commerce, Web apps, and social networking are all valid topics here. We aim to provide a place for Web professionals to meet new people, exchange ideas, learn new things, and have a little fun. We have several events each month: one for learning, and happy hours all over the metro area for socializing.

Build Guild Atlanta

Build Guild Atlanta is a monthly gathering for web folks that enjoy chatting over drinks. High-fives encouraged.Mustaches optional. Monthly meetings happen at Joystick Gamebar.

Atlanta Drupal User's Group

The Atlanta Drupal User's Group (ADUG) is interested in building and strengthening the Drupal Community. Discuss new and exciting Drupal-related news - or just socialize with like-minded people!

Atlanta PHP User Group

The Atlanta PHP User Group is the Southeast's premier PHP community. We are dedicated to building up the PHP community, providing networking opportunities, and developing the skills of our members.

Atlanta JavaScript Meetup Group

The Atlanta JavaScript Meetup Group allows developers to meet other local JavaScripters to share knowledge, to review the state of the art, or to dream up new applications.

Atlanta NodeJS Developers

The Atlanta NodeJS Developers group focuses on learning node js through a practical approach. We will have keynote introductions of meetings, followed by discussions, and then hacking/development sessions where we will learn to rapidly build applications. While we may have the occasional outside expert speaker, our goals are to promote knowledge and gain experience in this new technology by work from members within the group.

We will have a heavy focus on mobile computing devices and other smart devices like TVs with less focus on plain desktop pc.

Atlanta WordPress User's Group

The Atlanta WordPress User's Group is the oldest and largest Atlanta WordPress Meetup.

It is usually held in the evening, on the 4th Wednesday of each month, in Inman Park near Downtown, Atlanta.

We have one or two presentations depending on the degree of complexity of the topic. The presentations are designed for beginners and/or intermediates to learn to build, customize,and maintain WordPress websites.

Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems
esembrat3 Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:47

This section contains information about different content management systems used on campus.  The recommended content system for Georgia Tech websites is Drupal.  A separate knowledge base for Drupal is maintained by the Georgia Tech Drupal Users Group.

Information about other content systems is kept in the sub-sections listed below.

Content Management System Sub-Topics


root Fri, 12/12/2014 - 14:30

SharePoint is the content management system provided by Georgia Tech's campus Office365 subscription.  You can access SharePoint by logging into Office 365, then selecting the icon in the upper-right-hand corner, often described as the 'waffle' icon.

Help and documentation about SharePoint can be found inside the application itself, and also in the OIT Frequently Asked Questions site.


root Fri, 12/12/2014 - 12:12

WordPress is a content management system used by millions of websites across the world.

WordPress at Georgia Tech

At Georgia Tech, WordPress is officially provided through the Professional Web Presence (PWP). PWP is especially well suited for faculty, research group, research lab, organizational, and personal websites.

You can learn more about PWP service-specific resources, such as deleting a website and adding a custom domain in the PWP section of this Knowledge Base.

WordPress Sub-Topics

Getting Started with WordPress

Getting Started with WordPress
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:52

This page details all topics of guides for getting started with WordPress.

Getting Started Sub-Topics

Creating a Website with WordPress

Creating a Website with WordPress
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:30

Creating a WordPress website has never been easier. This page details the best-practices for configuring your new WordPress website.

Steps For a Creating a Successful Website

WordPress may seem a little daunting at first, but following the steps below will help ease the development process of your new site.

1. Select a Theme

Select a Theme by going to 'Appearance -> Themes'. 

2. Customize Your Theme

Edit your theme settings by going to 'Appearance -> Customize'.

3. Create a Main Menu

Create a main menu by going to 'Appearance -> Menus' . The menu does not need to have any links on it yet, but defining the menu first will make selecting a theme a bit easier.

4. Enable Plugins

Next, enable plugins to add additional features and functionality to your website and the administrative backend. Plugins such as contact forms, polls, Google Maps integration, and more can be added. 

5. Add Users

Add or edit users to add additional content editors and users on your website.

6. Create Content

Now for the fun part of website design. Create pages, posts, and other custom content (like forms, maps, etc) and bring data to your website.

WordPress Log In / Authentication

WordPress Log In / Authentication
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:56

To log in to your WordPress website, follow the directions below.

Logging In

These steps are adapted from the WPMUDev website.

  • Navigate to the main page of your website (e.g. ).
  • Add wp-admin to the end of the URL and press enter ( e.g. ).
  • From this page, you will be redirected to the Georgia Tech Login service (for Professional Web Presence [PWP]) or given a login screen for WordPress (for non-PWP websites).
    • For PWP, type in your GT account username and password. 
  • You should be redirected to the WordPress Dashboard.

WordPress Pages and Posts

WordPress Pages and Posts
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:42

This page details all topics of guides for pages and posts.

Pages and Posts Sub-Topics

What Are Pages?

What Are Pages?
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:29

Courtesy of

In WordPress, you can write either posts or Pages. Pages are for content such as "About," "Contact," etc. Pages live outside of the normal blog chronology, and are often used to present timeless information about yourself or your site -- information that is always applicable. You can use Pages to organize and manage any content.

In addition to the generally required "About" and "Contact" Pages, other examples of common pages include Copyright, Disclosure, Legal Information, Reprint Permissions, Company Information, and Accessibility Statement.

What Are Posts?

What Are Posts?
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:30

Courtesy of

Posts are entries that display in reverse order on your home page. Posts usually have comments fields beneath them and are included in your site's RSS feed.

Upload Media & Files

Upload Media & Files
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:30

Uploading files can be accomplished through the WordPress interface. No FTP access should be needed.


Content on this page is derived from the documentation on Uploading Files.

Upload Files

The Administrative Dashboard lets you upload files in the following ways:

File Format Support

WordPress supports uploading the following file types:


  • .jpg
  • .jpeg
  • .png
  • .gif
  • .ico
  • .svg


  • .pdf (Portable Document Format; Adobe Acrobat)
  • .doc, .docx (Microsoft Word Document)
  • .ppt, .pptx, .pps, .ppsx (Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation)
  • .odt (OpenDocument Text Document)
  • .xls, .xlsx (Microsoft Excel Document)
  • .psd (Adobe Photoshop Document)


  • .mp3
  • .m4a
  • .ogg
  • .wav

PWP may not permit large file uploads. 

Video Uploading

We recommend not uploading videos directly through PWP. Instead, upload your videos through YouTube, Vimeo, or another video streaming service.

To Upload a File in a Post/Page

  1. On the Dashboard menu, click Posts or Pages, and then click Add New to display the "Add New Post/Page" page.
  2. On the Upload/Insert menu, click the icon for the type of file you want to upload and the "Add media files from your computer" page will appear.
  3. Click the Select Files button.
  4. In the dialog box, select the file you want to upload. 
    To select multiple files, hold down the SHIFT key (for PC users) or the COMMAND key (for Macintosh users).
  5. Click Open.
  6. When your file uploads, a field appears. At the bottom of the field, click the Insert into Post button.

Note: If you are having problems uploading files with the default Flash uploader, you may want to use the Browser uploader instead.

To Upload a File for Later Use

  1. On the Dashboard menu, click Media and then click Add New to display the "Upload New Media" page.
  2. Click the Select Files button to open a dialog box.
  3. In the dialog box, select the file you want to upload. 
    To select multiple files, hold down the SHIFT key (for PC users) or the COMMAND key (for Macintosh users).
  4. Click the Open button.
  5. When the upload is complete, a field with your file details appears. Below the field, click Save all changes.

Note: If the file does not open, then the file type is not supported, the chosen format may not match the file’s true format or the file may be damaged.

Embed External Media in WordPress

Embed External Media in WordPress
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:56

WordPress allows you to embed a number of social services into posts and pages automatically.

All Embed Services

For all embed services supported by WordPress, see the WordPress documentation.

Embed a YouTube Clip

To embed a YouTube clip, simply paste the URL where you would like the video to go.

  • e.g.

WordPress will convert the URL into a YouTube box. Once that is completed, you can then re-align the box to be formatted with or around text.

Embed a Tweet

To embed a tweet from Twitter, simply paste the URL of the specific tweet where you would like the video to go.

  • e.g.

WordPress will convert the URL into a Twitter tweet box. Once that is completed, you can then re-align the box to be formatted with or around text.

Embed a Vine

To embed a Vine clip, simply paste the URL where you would like the video to go.

  • e.g.

WordPress will convert the URL into a Vine video. Once that is completed, you can then re-align the box to be formatted with or around text.

Embed Instagram Media

To embed a Instagram photo or video, simply paste the URL where you would like the media to go.

  • e.g.

WordPress will convert the URL into an Instagram video/photo box. Once that is completed, you can then re-align the box to be formatted with or around text.

Embed Flickr Media

To embed a Flickr photo or video, simply paste the URL where you would like the media to go.

  • e.g.

WordPress will convert the URL into a Flickr video/photo box. Once that is completed, you can then re-align the box to be formatted with or around text.

Embed a Meetup Event

To embed a Meetup event, simply paste the URL where you would like the event information to go.

  • e.g.

WordPress will convert the URL into a Meetup event box. Once that is completed, you can then re-align the box to be formatted with or around text.

Embed a Vimeo Video

To embed a Viemo video, simply paste the URL where you would like the video to go.

  • e.g.

WordPress will convert the URL into a Vimeo video box. Once that is completed, you can then re-align the box to be formatted with or around text.

Embed External Media Sub-Topics

Google Docs Embeds

Google Docs Embeds
esembrat3 Thu, 08/20/2015 - 09:27

PWP has not found an appropriate plugin that allows for safe and easy-to-use Google Docs embeds. 

Obtain Embed Code

To use a Google Doc in your WordPress page, please obtain the embed code from the Google Document. Documentation on how to complete this process can be found on WordPress's knowledge base.

  1. Use the above link to copy the embed code.
  2. Edit the page or post where you would like the embedded content to go.
  3. From the 'Edit Page/Create Page' screen, click the 'Text' tab to enter the HTML view.
  4. Paste the embed code at the bottom of the HTML code shown in the 'Text' tab.
  5. Return to the 'Visual' tab.
  6. Save the content.

Media Embeds

Media Embeds
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 11:24

WordPress has built-in embedding support for various media services.

Note that this content is derived from the article on Embeds.

What is Embedding?

Embedding allows you to paste a URL from a media service, which is then converted into the proper code for placing into a webpage.

As an example, pasting a YouTube URL into a post or page causes WordPress to convert that URL into the proper YouTube player on your page.

Embedding Services

ervice Embed Type Since Animoto Videos WordPress 4.0 Blip Videos WordPress 2.9 CollegeHumor Videos WordPress 4.0 DailyMotion Videos WordPress 2.9 EmbedArticles Various WordPress 3.9 Flickr Videos & Images WordPress 2.9 Videos WordPress 3.0 Hulu Videos WordPress 2.9 Imgur Images WordPress 3.9 Instagram Images WordPress 3.5 iSnare Articles WordPress 2.9 Issuu Documents WordPress 4.0 Kickstarter Projects WordPress 4.2 Various WordPress 3.9 Mixcloud Music WordPress 4.0 Photobucket Images WordPress 2.9 PollDaddy Polls & Surveys WordPress 3.0 Rdio Music WordPress 3.6 Revision3 TV shows WordPress 2.9 Scribd Documents WordPress 2.9 SlideShare Presentation slideshows WordPress 3.5 SmugMug Various WordPress 3.0   SoundCloud Music WordPress 3.5 Spotify Music WordPress 3.6 TED Videos WordPress 4.0 Tumblr Various WordPress 4.2 Twitter Social media WordPress 3.4 Vimeo Videos WordPress 2.9 Vine Videos WordPress 4.1 Videos WordPress 2.9 YouTube Videos WordPress 2.9

How to Use Embed

To embed a video or another object into a post or page, place its URL into the content area. Make sure the URL is on its own line and not hyperlinked (clickable when viewing the post).

Content Privacy

Content Privacy
esembrat3 Wed, 01/27/2016 - 09:41

To change the privacy of the content, follow the directions below.


To change a post or page to be private or password protected, please follow the directions provided by WordPress:

  1. Visibility for posts and Pages is set from the Edit screen. The option is available under the "Publish" option normally found at the top-right of the Edit screen. The screenshot below shows the interface, with the relevant section highlighted in the red rectangle.

  2. The default state for post and Page visibility is Public. Public visibility means that the content will be visible to the outside world as soon as it is published.

  3. By clicking on the edit link next to Visibility: Public in the Publish options, you can choose from an expanded selection of visibility options.

Content URLs

Content URLs
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 11:08

You can easily change the URL of your pages and posts.


Content below courtesy of's page on Pages.

URLs of Your Pages

WordPress will automatically create a URL part ('slug') for your page as soon as you complete the name of the page/post title. 

Changing the URL of Your Pages

To change the URL part (also referred to as 'slug') containing the name of your Page, use the 'Edit' button under the Page title on the Edit screen of the particular Page, accessible from Pages tab of WordPress Administration Panel.

Create Posts/Pages

Create Posts/Pages
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 11:28

To create a post/page:

  1. Log in to your WordPress Administration Panel (Dashboard).
  2. Click the 'Posts' or 'Pages' tab.
  3. Click the 'Add New' sub-tab.
  4. Start filling in the blanks: enter your post title in the upper field, and enter your post body content in the main post editing box below it.
  5. As needed, select a category, add tags, and make other selections from the sections below the post. (Each of these sections is explained below.)
  6. When you are ready, click Publish.

Creating Teaser for Post

Creating Teaser for Post
esembrat3 Thu, 07/30/2015 - 14:42

To create a teaser or a preview for your post for display on the blog page, follow the directions below.


  1. Edit the post you would like to trim down.
  2. Locate the area on the story you would like to place the 'Read More' on.
  3. From the editor box, select 'Insert "Read More" tag'.
  4. Save your post.

Edit Posts/Pages

Edit Posts/Pages
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 11:29

To edit a post or page:

  1. Log in to your WordPress Administration Panel (Dashboard).
  2. Click the 'Posts' or 'Pages' tab.
  3. Click the 'List' sub-tab.
  4. From the table list, select which post or page you would like to edit.


esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 11:07

Subpages allow pages to exist as child-pages of another page.

Create a Subpage

  1. Go to Administration > Pages > Add New panel.
  2. In the right menu, click the "Page Parent" drop-down menu. The drop-down menu contains a list of all the Pages already created for your site.
  3. Select the appropriate parent Page from the drop-down menu to make the current Page a child Page.
  4. Add content to the subpage.
  5. Click Publish when ready.

When your Pages are listed, the Child Page will be nested under the Parent Page. The Permalinks of your Pages will also reflect this Page hierarchy.

In the above example, the Permalink for the Cameroon Page would be:

WordPress Appearance and Themes

WordPress Appearance and Themes
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:42

This section contains information and guides for WordPress themes and theme customization options.

The Available Themes page is now part of the Professional Web Presence (PWP) section of this Knowledge Base.

Appearance and Themes Sub-Topics

Selecting a WordPress Theme

Selecting a WordPress Theme
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 09:21

Changing themes in WordPress can be accomplished from the 'Appearance -> Themes' page.

Page content is courtesy of

Changing Themes

The Appearance Themes Screen allows you to manage your Themes. That means you can install, preview, delete Themes, activate, and update Themes. Two tabs, Manage Themes (the default view) and Install Themes, can be clicked to provide access to each of those functions.

A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a website. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.

Select this to make this theme the current theme.

Live Preview 
Select this and you can preview how your blog will appear with this specific theme version.

WordPress Home Page Setup

WordPress Home Page Setup
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:47

To set up a home page, follow the directions below:


  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. From the top administrative bar, select Dashboard.
  3. From the WordPress Dashboard, select Settings.
  4. From the Settings page, select Reading.
  5. You can select to display a static page, a listing of recent posts, and provide settings for both.
  6. Click Save Changes to save your changes.

Static Page

A static page is a page you have already created on WordPress that you would like to use as a front page.

Latest Posts

The latest posts generates a dynamic page listing the most recently created posts.

More Information

For more information, please see the WordPress documentation on home/front pages.

WordPress Theme Settings

WordPress Theme Settings
esembrat3 Thu, 04/23/2015 - 15:24

All PWP themes allow additional customization for end-users.

How to Customize

To customize, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. Ensure that a theme is enabled.
  3. Under the administrative menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.

Customization Options

The customization options allow you to make changes to the theme options, then view the changed settings in real time.  

Site Title & Tagline

The title and tagline (subtitle) are text used for social media sharing and appear in your header. You can also change these settings from 'Settings -> General'.

The title and tagline are used on the title bar, the header, and the search-engine optimization of your website, so make sure these are set appropriately. 


Colors allow you to change the color of various theme elements, such as the background or header text color.

Each theme has preset color customization options tailored to its theme.

Header Image

Upload and crop a replacement logo for the site title on the website. This will hide the title text. 

Please note that your image should be approved by Institute Communications before usage.

Background Image

Upload a replacement background image for the website. This will override any background color or image currently used on the website.

Please note that background images should not be tiled unless the image is tailored for the tile format.


This enables which menu should be used for the primary (main) and secondary menus. 

Please note that this requires you to create menus first.

Static Front Page

Select either an already created page (static front page) or a listing of latest posts as the front page of your website.

You can also change these settings from 'Settings -> Reading'.

Site Layout

Select which site layout (sidebars) is best for this website. Please note that this can be overwritten on individual pages and posts.


Enable or disable breadcrumbs on certain page types on your website.

Comments and Trackbacks

Enable or disable comments or trackbacks on pages and posts. The recommended value is to disable comments and trackbacks for both pages and posts.

Content Archives

Configure how you would like archiving of posts should be displayed and formatted.

WordPress Plugins and Tools

WordPress Plugins and Tools
esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:43

Professional Web Presence (PWP) has curated a select list of plugins for your websites.

What is a plugin?


*Plugins are ways to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress.

The core of WordPress is designed to be lean and lightweight, to maximize flexibility and minimize code bloat. Plugins then offer custom functions and features so that each user can tailor their site to their specific needs.

*Please note that the use of certain plugins can limit or break functionality in other existing plugins used within your site. If you believe you are experiencing this, you may want to temporarily disable your different site plugins to test functionality.

WordPress Plugin Sub-Topics

Simple Social Icons

Simple Social Icons
esembrat3 Thu, 04/23/2015 - 15:16

Simple Social Icons allows users to apply social media links to various services to their website.


This is not social media sharing, but rather linking services to your website.


To use Simple Social Icons, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. Install and enable the Simple Social Icons plugin by going to "Plugins".
  3. Navigate to "Appearance -> Widgets" and drag the "Social Media Header" block to one of the available widget areas on the right.
  4. Edit the settings on the new block to your preferences.

PWP Notice

PWP's default theme, GT Boilerplate, has support for Simple Social Icons out of the box. To match how Georgia Tech's institute websites look, place the Simple Social Icons block into the "Social Media Header" for the GT Boilerplate theme.

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:07

Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.


More detailed information about Contact Form 7 at


To use Contact Form 7, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. Install and enable the Contact Form 7 plugin by going to "Plugins".
  3. [If you have experience using this, add additional notes here]

PWP Notice

[Any specific notes/issues relating to using plugin within GT PWP]

Forget About Shortcode Buttons

Forget About Shortcode Buttons
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:07

Forget About Shortcode Buttons are a visual way to add CSS buttons in the rich text editor and to your themes. Instead of adding shortcodes in the post editor, you insert real, styled buttons – making the process of adding buttons to your posts and pages much more natural whilst improving the appearance and usability of the post editor.


To use Forget About Shortcode Buttons, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. Install and enable the Forget About Shortcode Buttons plugin by going to "Plugins".
  3. [If you have experience using this, add additional notes here]

PWP Notice

The use of the Forget About Shortcode Buttons plugin along with the Ninja Forms plugin will break the Download All Submissions functionality of Ninja Forms (the button for "Download All Submissions" will not appear at the bottom of the submission listing/table for a given Ninja Form).

Genesis Simple Share

Genesis Simple Share
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:07

Genesis Simple Share enables the display of share icons (i.e. Faceboook, Twitter, Google+) on posts. Once activated, you can choose which post types Simple Share will be active on, if it should show on archives, and which icons to enable. Additional information relating to the plugin on Github.


The default settings should automatically enable the share icons on posts.


To use Genesis Simple Share, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. Install and enable the Genesis Simple Share plugin by going to "Plugins".
  3. [If you have experience using this, add additional notes here]

PWP Notice

[Any specific notes/issues relating to using plugin within GT PWP]

Google Analytics by Yoast

Google Analytics by Yoast
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:07

Google Calendar Events

Google Calendar Events
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:07

Google Language Translator

Google Language Translator
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:07

Jetpack by

Jetpack by
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:08

Ninja Forms

Ninja Forms
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:08

Ninja Forms is the ultimate FREE form creation tool for WordPress. Build forms within minutes using a simple yet powerful drag-and-drop form creator.


More detailed information about Ninja Forms at


To use Ninja Forms, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. Install and enable the Ninja Forms plugin by going to "Plugins".
  3. [If you have experience using this, add additional notes here]

PWP Notice

The use of the Forget About Shortcode Buttons plugin along with the Ninja Forms plugin will break the "Download All Submissions" functionality of Ninja Forms (the button for "Download All Submissions" will not appear at the bottom of the submission listing/table for a given Ninja Form).

Obfuscate E-mail

Obfuscate E-mail
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:08

Page Links To

Page Links To
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:08

The Events Calendar

The Events Calendar
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:08

Twitter Plugin

Twitter Plugin
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:08

WP Google Maps

WP Google Maps
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:09


esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:09


esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:09

WordPress Popular Posts

WordPress Popular Posts
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:09

WordPress Training and Walkthrough Videos

WordPress Training and Walkthrough Videos
esembrat3 Tue, 03/17/2015 - 10:10

We have training resources both on- and off-campus available for WordPress usage and best-practices.

WordPress Training Sub-Topics

WordPress Campus Training Sessions

WordPress Campus Training Sessions
esembrat3 Tue, 03/17/2015 - 10:10

Campus training sessions will be conducted by Eric Sembrat of the College of Engineering. 

Topics Covered

The training will cover basic usage of WordPress, with emphasis on PWP-specific actions. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Page/Post Creation & Management
  • User Management & Roles
  • Media Management
  • Theme Options & Settings
  • Supported Plugins
  • PWP Features


Training is set to commence in a pilot program in Summer 2015, with a full schedule rolling out throughout the Fall 2015 semester.

Contact Information

Contact Eric Sembrat for more information on the WordPress training initiative.

WordPress Video Walkthroughs and Guides

WordPress Video Walkthroughs and Guides
esembrat3 Tue, 03/17/2015 - 10:10

Various video walkthrough and guides are provided by Georgia Tech resources for learning about WordPress.

The most in-depth walkthroughs and guides can be found through the Georgia Tech subscription. You can view all WordPress training courses available through our subscription.

Highlighted courses for training:

WP Beginner

WPBeginner has some great free videos for getting started with WordPress. 

Please note that viewing the videos requires creating a free account on the WPBeginner website.

Securing WordPress

Securing WordPress
kp37 Tue, 01/31/2017 - 12:56

Anyone who is running their own instances of WordPress that they fully administer themselves (this doesn't include people maintaining sites on Professional Web Presence), should make sure they are running a comprehensive security plugin like WordFence to monitor and protect their WordPress instance from cyber attacks. WordPress sites are popular attack vectors, especially ones that rank well in the major search engines.

Minimal Security Settings

If you have a valid reason for not running a comprehensive security plugin, it is recommended that your website has Limit Login Attempts Reloaded to prevent brute force login attacks. 

Please note that WordFence limits login attempts as well, so you don't need a separate plugin for that if you're running WordFence.

User Login

To strengthen user logins on campus, CAS/Single Sign-On based authentication for user logins is strongly recommended. Please see the article on CAS for Drupal 7 for recommended settings and server information.

If you cannot enable CAS/Single Sign-On, consider adding a two-factor authentication (2FA) plugin to your site. WordFence supports 2FA but only in their paid premium version.

Please note that you should not run both CAS authentication and 2FA, as that will result in a three-factor authentication for all of your faculty/staff users. 

WordPress Menus and Navigation

WordPress Menus and Navigation
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:57

Menus and navigation can be edited through the WordPress Appearance dashboard section.

Menus and Navigation Sub-Topics

Add WordPress Menu Links

Add WordPress Menu Links
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:46

The most up-to-date information on adding menu links to menus can be found on's knowledge base page.

Locating Menu from Dashboard

  1. Login to the WordPress Dashboard.
  2. From the 'Appearance' menu on the left-hand side of the Dashboard, select the 'Menus' option to bring up the Menu Editor.

Adding Menu Links

  1. Locate the pane entitled Pages.
  2. Within this pane, select the View All link to bring up a list of all the currently published Pages on your site.
  3. Select the Pages that you want to add by clicking the checkbox next to each Page's title.
  4. Click the Add to Menu button located at the bottom of this pane to add your selection(s) to the menu that you created in the previous step.
  5. Click the Save Menu button once you've added all the menu items you want.

Attach WordPress Menu to Theme

Attach WordPress Menu to Theme
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:50

One thing that WordPress does not automatically do is attach menus to your theme. To do so, follow the directions below.

Attaching a Menu

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. From the Administrative Dashboard, select 'Appearance -> Menus' 
  3. On the top of the page, select your current menu from the dropdown and click 'Select'.
  4. From the 'Menu Structure', set the 'Menu Settings -> Theme locations' to assign where the menu should live in your selected theme.


  • You can also assign menu locations by using the 'Manage Locations' tab on the 'Appearance -> Menus' page.
  • You can also assign menu locations through the 'Appearance -> Customize' page.


Create a WordPress Menu

Create a WordPress Menu
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:42

To create a new menu, follow the steps below.

Creating a New Menu

  1. Log in to your WordPress website.
  2. From the Administrative Dashboard, select 'Appearance -> Menus' 
  3. On the right, create a new menu by giving it a 'Menu Name' and click 'Save'.

WordPress User Roles and Access

WordPress User Roles and Access
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 09:28

WordPress allows you to add users and provide them with preset roles for editing, posting, and administration.

User Roles and Access Sub-Topics

Add a WordPress User

Add a WordPress User
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:10

Add a new user to allow multiple users manage content and editing for your website.

Latest Documentation

For the latest and greatest documentation, see's article on Users -> Add New.

Adding Users

To add users, navigate to 'Users -> Add New' from the administrative portal.

For PWP users, all you need to do is add their GT account name and click 'Add User'. All new users will take the role of Subscriber

Edit a WordPress User

Edit a WordPress User
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:25

To edit a user, follow the instructions below.

Edit a User

  1. From the administration dashboard, select 'Users -> All Users' from the left-hand menu.
  2. Hover over a user row for a 'Edit' text to appear. Click 'Edit' to edit the user.

Edit Multiple Users

To edit multiple users (change role), do the following:

  1. From the administration dashboard, select 'Users -> All Users' from the left-hand menu.
  2. From the user table, check the checkboxes of all users  you want to change roles of.
  3. Select the dropdown 'Change role to...' and select a role you want to change all users to.
  4. Click the 'Change' button to confirm this role change.

Remove a WordPress User

Remove a WordPress User
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:40

To remove a user, follow the instructions below.

Remove a User

  1. From the administration dashboard, select 'Users -> All Users' from the left-hand menu.
  2. Hover over a user row for a 'Remove' text to appear. Click 'Remove' to edit the user.

Remove Multiple Users

To remove multiple users, do the following:

  1. From the administration dashboard, select 'Users -> All Users' from the left-hand menu.
  2. From the user table, check the checkboxes of all users  you want to remove.
  3. Select the dropdown 'Bulk Actions' and select 'Remove'.
  4. Click the 'Apply' button to confirm this removal.

WordPress User Roles

WordPress User Roles
esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:10

WordPress has a predefined set of user roles for your users to be placed into. 

Read More

Wordpress maintains the most up-to-date documentation on user roles. Wordpress also has a developer-centric page on Role delegation.


The following roles are available:

  • Administrator – nothing is off limits
  • Editor – has access to all posts, pages, comments, categories, tags, and links.
  • Author – can write, upload photos to, edit, and publish their own posts.
  • Contributor – has no publishing or uploading capability, but can write and edit their own posts until they are published
  • Follower (public sites) / Viewer (private sites only) – can read and comment on posts and pages

Role Inheritance

Each user role is capable of everything that a less powerful role is capable of. (In others words, Editors can do everything Authors can do, Authors can do everything Contributors can do, and so on.)

Data Integration and Services

Data Integration and Services
root Fri, 12/12/2014 - 14:01

This section contains information on various campus-available and campus-recommended resources for third-party data integration and services.

Data Integration and Services Sub-Topics

Google (Search, Analytics)

Google (Search, Analytics)
root Fri, 12/12/2014 - 15:09

The campus uses many of Google's services.

Google Service Sub-Topics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics
root Fri, 12/12/2014 - 15:09

LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)

LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) afrank30 Thu, 06/11/2015 - 11:46

This section contains information about Georgia Tech's LDAP system and ways of accessing it.

LDAP Sub-Topics

Finding GT Accounts Using the Public LDAP Server

Finding GT Accounts Using the Public LDAP Server
afrank30 Thu, 06/11/2015 - 11:54

Example code of how to retrieve a person's gtaccount (gburdell1) using command line.

Start command

For each of the examples given below, the command will start with this line:

ldapsearch -x -LLL -h -b "dc=whitepages,dc=gatech,dc=edu" 

For example, 

ldapsearch -x -LLL -h -b "dc=whitepages,dc=gatech,dc=edu"

Use email to find gtaccount

Use unique given or first name


Use unique family/last or surname


Use part of full name




Other ldap variables

Whitepages also lets you narrow your search using other values, such as:

  • building: William C Wardlaw Center
  • telephoneNumber: 404-385-4275
  • displayName OR cn: Burdell,George P
  • title: Web Developer Sr [job title]
  • objectClass: luPerson
  • primaryUid OR uid: gburdell1
  • postalAddress: 0181 [campus mail code]
  • ou: Institute Communications [department]

Sensitive Data Considerations

Sensitive Data Considerations
afrank30 Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:48

This section provides information and links to policies, checklists, and best-practices about storing and transmitting data that might be sensitive (FERPA, HIPAA, SSN, birthdates, etc).

Recommended Systems and Services

Recommended Systems and Services
esembrat3 Mon, 12/15/2014 - 13:28

This section contains information on web related systems and services recommended by the campus IT administration or your fellow campus web developers.

Note: OIT Web Hosting, and Professional Web Presence [PWP] now have their own section (Web Hosting Solutions) in the handbook.

Recommended Systems and Services Sub-Topics

Georgia Tech Mercury: News and Events Aggregation

Georgia Tech Mercury: News and Events Aggregation
esembrat3 Wed, 01/28/2015 - 14:41

Mercury (Hg) is a central repository for sharing events and news at Georgia Tech.  It can provide news and events feeds to websites hosted on our campus web servers within the campus network, but cannot provide feeds to off-campus servers.

The basic concept for using Mercury is that a campus unit will have a news and events group created on the Mercury server (  The unit can then add the Mercury Hg Reader module to their website to pull news and events from their Mercury group and display those items on their web pages.

Ample documentation on Mercury can be found on the Georgia Tech Drupal User's Group website:

Conference Website Solutions

Conference Website Solutions
root Fri, 12/12/2014 - 14:01

There are multiple services, platforms, and options for developing a conference/event registration website.


Drupal Installation

Eric, we’ve used Drupal for this sort of thing (just did a conference this week). Registration is done via WebForm, with email confirmations. Payment is then forwarded to a Georgia Tech implementation of Touchnet’s Marketplace Upay site we setup for the specific conference.--  A pretty simple site with 2-3 forms wouldn’t be that bad to do J.

Conference Organizing Distribution

There is a conference organizing distribution (COD) of Drupal that comes pre-built with modules, features, and views for event registrations. This is used for DrupalCamp Atlanta.

On Campus

On campus (non-Drupal) resources.

GTPE Conference Services

Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) offers full conference service planning for both on and offsite:  including contracting, planning and registration management here at GTPE.  I’d have to check on the international status for payments but we process them all of the time. See the attached flyer.  If you would like to discuss further, I can meet with you and/or chat sometime next week.

GTPE can help with conference registration.  We have an established relationship with RegOnline that is already integrated with Touchnet, and managing conferences and events is one of our businesses.  While the service is not free, it may save you a significant amount of time and headaches.  Please give Greg Stenzoski in our registration dept a call at 5-3543 if you are interested and he can point you in the right direction.


Bursar's Marketplace


Forms and Surveys

Forms and Surveys
esembrat3 Wed, 01/07/2015 - 12:36

This page details recommended services and applications for forms, surveys, and questionnaires.


Qualtrics is a hosted commercial survey solution that has been licensed by Georgia Tech for campus use.


LimeSurvey is available on OIT Webhosting via Installatron.

Short URLs with Georgia Tech Bitly (

Short URLs with Georgia Tech Bitly (
afrank30 Tue, 03/10/2015 - 10:26

Georgia Tech maintains a subscription to the Bitly whereby any "" link submitted to the Bitly service will be shortened to a Georgia Tech branded bit link.  Learn how to make a short, Georgia Tech branded web address using



Summary:  Browse to Paste in the "" based URL or the Office 365 URL you wish to shorten. Click "Shorten". Your Georgia Tech branded shortened link will be displayed to you, and you should click on "Copy" to copy it to your clipboard.

Detailed Process

  1. Browse to
  2. Paste in the "" based URL or the Office 365 URL you wish to shorten.
  3. Click "Shorten".
  4. Your Georgia Tech branded shortened link will be displayed to you, and you should click on "Copy" to copy it to your clipboard.


  • This procedure can be used for any '' based URL or any URL from Office 365 OneDrive or SharePoint Online.
  • You should record this shorten URL as you will not be able to retrieve it later from Bitly, but you can always create another one.
  • You can use this process for non-Georgia Tech websites as well, but you will not receive a Georgia Tech branded shortened URL.

Video Captioning and Audio Transcription Services

Video Captioning and Audio Transcription Services
esembrat3 Wed, 02/18/2015 - 14:52

These systems and services deal with transcription of audio content and captioning of video content, per Georgia Tech's requirements.

The groups, services, and providers below have worked with Georgia Tech previously or currently on transcription and captioning services.


AMAC is a Georgia Tech entity operated by the College of Architecture that provides accessibility support to the entire University System of Georgia. However, its services are also made available to entities outside of the university system on a subscription basis.  For a summary of AMACs captioning and transcription services, please see our main page on AMAC.


Per 3PlayMedia's website, the company has provided captioning and transcription services with the Distance Learning unit on campus. was recommended by a contact within one of the schools on campus for video transcription and captioning.

For pricing information, see their How It Works page.

Third Eye Media

Still waiting on content details from Institute Communications.


More information to be provided in the future.

WReally Transcribe

More information to be provided in the future.


YouTube can add transcripts and captions to each video. However, you should never use just the automated captioning service for video. For most audio, it is unusable and produces incorrect results.

To add transcriptions and captions to YouTube videos, follow this YouTube guide. You can add captions in three different ways:

  • Create new subtitles and captions from scratch.
  • Transcribe the video on the fly.
  • Import a text document with the transcript or captions. 

Web Development

Web Development
esembrat3 Wed, 01/21/2015 - 09:43

This section contains content system agnostic web design and development documentation and knowledge.

Web Development Sub-Topics

Appearances and Themes

Appearances and Themes
esembrat3 Wed, 01/21/2015 - 09:45

This section contains generic appearance and theme-related resources for web development on campus.

Please be sure to also see the Georgia Tech Web Branding Rules for Georgia Tech's specific website standards and requirements.

Appearance and Theme Sub-Topics

CSS Preprocessing (Sass)

CSS Preprocessing (Sass)
esembrat3 Wed, 01/21/2015 - 09:54

CSS preprocessing allows you to write shortcode, functions, variables, and other time-saving methods for building up your website CSS.

The preferred tool on campus for CSS preprocessing is Sass.


Sass is an extension of the CSS framework that is already in wide usage across the web. However, Sass provides scripting capabilities to make writing CSS easier. Sass compiles Sass commands, variables, and references into cut-and-dry CSS that can be interpreted by websites.

Sass-written CSS looks very similar to the CSS you already know, with a few new features. 

Sass Documentation

Getting Started with Sass

Getting Started with Sass
esembrat3 Fri, 02/03/2017 - 11:26

Getting started using the Sass preprocessor is easy, provided you have experience with command-line interface tools.


The recommended setup for writing Sass on campus is:

The Ruby Sass release and have been deprecated or phased out. 

Getting Started

To get started, unpackage the Github package gt_sass_template into your theme's directory. 

Please note:

  • All files in your /css/ folder will be overwritten when compiled. So, if you want to save your custom CSS so far,  convert your CSS into Sass.

Once you have the package into your theme directory, run node-sass by:

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Navigate to the folder to which gt_sass_template was installed to.
  3. Type ./startup to run the node-sass compiler and watch status.

Now, any changes you make to a Sass file will be compiled into CSS.

HTML/CSS Templates for Creating Georgia Tech Websites

HTML/CSS Templates for Creating Georgia Tech Websites
eh94 Mon, 04/06/2015 - 11:46

You can find a repo of a static HTML/CSS template for creating a Georgia Tech website available on the Georgia Tech Github page.


To access the template, please see:

You must have an active Georgia Tech account in order to view this repository.


The markup and styling associated with this repository is ported from the Georgia Tech Drupal theme. This template serves as a starter-kit to help one follow Georgaia Tech Website Brand Requirements when building a static Georgia Tech website or website in a content-management system other than Drupal.


If you have any questions about this repository, please contact For technical issues, please post an issue to the repo.


ma195 Tue, 02/03/2015 - 12:12

This section has security related resources including authorization and authentication techniques, data encryption techniques, and security best practices.

Security Sub-Topics

Central Authentication Service (CAS)

Central Authentication Service (CAS)
kp37 Tue, 03/21/2017 - 18:09

What is Central Authentication Service (CAS)?

From Wikipedia (Central Authentication Service):

The Central Authentication Service (CAS) is a single sign-on protocol for the web.[1] Its purpose is to permit a user to access multiple applications while providing their credentials (such as userid and password) only once. It also allows web applications to authenticate users without gaining access to a user's security credentials, such as a password. The name CAS also refers to a software package[1] that implements this protocol.

Georgia Tech implements the CAS service to allow campus members to easily log into campus websites using their GT Account Username and associated password.  However, for a website to utilize CAS, it must be set up correctly, which usually means adding a module, plugin, or library, and configuring it to work with Georgia Tech's CAS servers.

CAS Sub-Topics

CAS and Stand-Alone PHP Applications

CAS and Stand-Alone PHP Applications
kp37 Tue, 03/21/2017 - 18:27

The most common approach for adding Central Authentication Service (CAS) support to a custom stand-alone PHP application is through the phpCAS Library.  As of mid 2017, the most recent version was phpCAS 1.3.5.  Note: If you are using an earlier version you should upgrade as soon as possible to obtain the latest security patches.

The basic approach to using the library is to unpack it into a subdirectory of your application, require the library's main file, then add the appropriate calls to it before you application does anything that requires the user's identity to be known.  It is preferable to store the user's identity in a session cookie for later accesses, so that you are not authenticating the user against the CAS server on every single page access.

The phpCAS documentation has an example of a really simple phpCAS implementation.  More information on using phpCAS can be found in the documentation library.

Note:  You would not utilize phpCAS in this manner if you are wanting to add CAS authentication to most content management systems (CMSs), such as Drupal or WordPress.  Instead, you should look for a CAS module or plugin for your particular CMS, and use it.  These modules and plugins are designed to integrate CAS into the CMS's user management system to give you proper security and a good end user experience.  Not every CMS will have a CAS module, but most of the popular CMS's will.  If you can't find a CAS module for the CMS you are using, you could look at it's module/plugin API and see if you can write your own module or plugin to integrate phpCAS, but this requires a fairly advanced knowledge of PHP programming, the CMS in question, and the CAS protocol.

SSL Encryption

SSL Encryption
ma195 Tue, 02/03/2015 - 12:12

SSL encryption (technically Transport Layer Security, but still commonly referenced as SSL, the acronym for its now deprecated predecessor) is a protocol for encrypting communications between a web browser and a web server. Encrypted connections (denoted by a web URL starting with 'https://') are not easily monitored by third parties unlike unencrypted connections (denoted by a web URL starting with 'http://'), where all content can be easily viewed by anyone with access to some part of the connection path. SSL works through a system of public-key cryptography, and is intended to not only keep communications private, but to also help ensure that you are actually communicating with the right server and not a hacker's rogue server that is merely impersonating a legitimate server.

By default, SSL is provided and available on OIT Webhosting, and can be enabled other types of on-campus web hosting where you or your information technology support staff have low-level management access to the web server.

SSL Certificates

In order to enable SSL encryption for a website, you need to have an SSL certificate that securely identifies that your server is the genuine server for your website's domain name. There are many possibilities for obtaining an SSL certificate – too many to list here.

Presently, Georgia Tech is a member of InCommon, a collective of universities which have pooled resources. This means campus units can get SSL certificates for free. Usually one person in a department, college and/or school has the ability to request and issue certificates. Ask your information technology support staff for assistance if you need a certificate for a web site.

InCommon Certificate Caveats

  • Georgia Tech's InCommon account can only [documentation needed] issue certificates for sub domains of Georgia Tech (addresses that end in  If you need a certificate for a non-Georgia Tech domain, you will most likely have to obtain a certificate through an outside service, which will most likely require a yearly fee.  Check with your information technology support staff for more information.
  • If your site is on OIT Web Hosting, you may not need a certificate, as web hosting has a 'wildcard' / multi-site certificate that covers a lot of common Georgia Tech sub domains, and they are often willing to add additional Georgia Tech sub domains if you ask. Please see the OIT FAQ Article on SSL Certificates and Web Hosting for more information.

Other Types of SSL Certificates

Before InCommon, there were several options for SSL certificates. You may stumble across them:

  • Paid SSL certificates - Issued by GoDaddy, Thawte, Comodo and others.
  • Self signed certificates - Generated and signed on the server that hosts them.  These are fine for development, but should never be used in production, as users will get a certificate error message in their browser when accessing a site with a self-signed certificate.
  • Georgia Tech Signed certificates - For many years, Georgia Tech had its own root certificate.  It's no longer used, but may still be on systems.  If you find this, you should remove it, as the root certificate has expired, as have any certificates signed by that root certificate.

Implementing SSL Encryption

Security Best Practices

Security Best Practices kp37 Fri, 03/10/2017 - 12:41

Patch, Patch, Patch

The most important security practice for web application software is to keep up with your software patches.  The more commonly used the application, the greater a chance that someone out there is looking for insecure installations to hack.

Systems like Drupal and WordPress are so popular that you need to be prepared to deploy security patches for them just as soon as they come out.  If your hosting server is running Installatron, you can configure it to automatically install many of these updates.  If you don't have Installatron, you can still configure WordPress to automatically install new updates on its own.  Drupal, unfortunately, requires manual intervention if you don't have an outside tool like Installatron, but modules can usually be updated from within the application.  Drupal core updates have to be installed from the command line or from a web hosting file manager control panel.

Non-security patches can be important, too, but should be tested more thoroughly before deployment since they could break things.  (Security patches could break things, too, but sometimes it may be better to break a small feature of your site temporarily than to leave it susceptible to a known vulnerability.)

Lock Down Site Access

Securing the back doors to your site is pointless if you leave the front door wide open.  Make sure you have configured your web application properly so that only the proper authorized people can access it.  

  • Consider user roles carefully and don't give out more access privileges than are necessary.
  • Audit user access lists and remove users who no longer need access (employees who no longer work for your unit, students who have graduated, anyone who has moved to a different role that doesn't need to use the application.)
  • Besides auditing access lists within web applications, also audit the access lists for their server hosting accounts as well.  Make sure that the people with access to administer those accounts still have reason to be doing so.  Take old developers off of these accounts if they aren't actively working for you, even if you think you'll bring them back in later, and remove anyone who has left Georgia Tech, as they could potentially still be able to get to your hosting account even after many of their standard IT privileges have expired.
  • If you implement a configuration where anyone with a GT Account can log into your application, be very careful about what you make available to these 'regular' users.  Keep in mind that when you include all GT Accounts, you include all guest users, outside vendors and developers who are doing work for Georgia Tech units, retirees, alumni, etc.  That's a pretty big pool of people.  If you really don't need to include all of those people, look into options for validating that someone logging in is a current faculty/staff member or student.
  • If you add custom security modules to content systems like Drupal and WordPress, don't just assume they work as you have configured them:  open a different browser and test to make sure a non-logged in user really can't get to the content you are trying to protect.  A security configuration that doesn't actually work is worthless.

Run a Tight Ship

Module and plugin based applications like Drupal and WordPress have one distinct downside:  not all modules and plugins are created equal, and poorly written and managed ones can put your application at risk.

Before installing a module or plugin, review it carefully.  Avoid ones that do not have active support, ones that haven't been updated in several years, and ones that have never left alpha/beta status.  It's usually better to tell a stakeholder that there's nothing available to provide a certain functionality than to offer up a module or plugin that isn't stable and risks introducing security holes.  It's also far better to say no up front than to try something that stakeholders get used to, only to later discover a serious uncorrectable problem that necessitates removing the plugin/module.

Avoid Frankensites

What's a Frankensite?  It's a module/plugin based web application where so many extra components have been added to it that it's impossible to properly audit the functionality of the site.  Upgrading these sites can either become impossible, or strokes of pure luck if a major update doesn't break several things at once.

When any kind of complex functionality is required, look at abstracting that functionality out to a separate application that can run in parallel with the main application.  For example, if you are running a Drupal site and your stakeholders want a nice photo album, don't load up the Drupal site with the half-dozen extra modules needed to make a barely functional internal photo album system.  Instead, set up a copy of ZenPhoto, which is designed from the ground up to handle photo albums.  Or, suggest the usage of an online system like Flickr or PhotoBucket.  Any of these options will keep your main website application from turning into an unmanageable Frankensite.

(Setting up multiple applications may seem like more work at first glance, but it's far less work in the long run, as you'll be able to streamline the installation of updates, not to mention that you can update the secondary applications one at a time without having to bring down any others or the main application/site.)

Enable and Monitor Security Logs

Many applications and all hosting account systems will log different kinds of activity related to your web application.  While a lot of these logs may seem unreadable to the untrained person, they could still be invaluable should a problem arise - especially a security incident.  It's a good idea to keep these logs around for at least six months, and even longer if your application handles any sensitive data.  Check the Georgia Tech data security policy to find institute requirements and recommendations for log retention.

When possible, sending logs to a remote server is a really good idea, as that prevents those remote copies from being modified by a hacker who gets too far into your web server.

Make Regular Site Backups

Nothing is worse than having a site crash without a recent backup available.  Whether the crash was due to a patch gone bad or a hacker getting into the site, being able to restore the site to a previously known good state is critical.  Here are some recommended guidelines for handling backups:

  • For all sites, run a full backup once a week, and for important sites, also run an incremental backup daily.
  • Store backups in a safe location, ideally on a remote server.  If possible, configure your infrastructure so that the web server can't modify a backup once it's been written to the remote server, so that a hacker who breaks into the web server can't delete your backups.
  • TEST your backups!  Far too many a systems administrator has been bitten hard by backup files that were corrupted, missing important components, or even just plain missing because the backup process didn't write out the files as expected.  After running your first backup, download the files and try to recreate the website in a test environment to make sure you have a complete backup of the site.  And, don't forget to check the backup archives periodically to make sure they're still functioning as you expect.
  • Be sure to cycle out old backup files periodically, so that your backup system doesn't run out of disk space.  This is yet another way to discover that you have no recent backups when you need them the most.

Install and Utilize Security Tools

Some applications may have third-party tools to help you monitor for security problems.  A good, reliable security tool can block many types of known attacks, stop brute-force login attempts, log more details about accesses to the site, and/or point out configuration settings that you ought to change to make the site more secure.

Since every application is unique, you'll have to research the available security tools that work with a specific applications.  Be sure to look at how well respected the tool is within the user community, as that will give you an idea of how safe and reliable it will be.

There are also server level security tools that you can utilize, such as Web Application Firewalls (WAFs).  These have to be installed by a server administrator, but can add an extra layer of protection beyond the tools available for the specific application(s) you are running.  The OIT Web Hosting servers all run a WAF that protects their hosting accounts by filtering any requests coming from off-campus.

Write Safe Code

If you are coding applications for the web or even just coding modules / plugins / themes for existing applications, take the time to write safe code:

  • Sanitize any user input that you utilize to deter hackers from running malicious commands by submitting carefully crafted values into a form field.
  • Use proper security wrapping methods to make sure that authorization is being checked properly before the execution of any higher level command.
  • Avoid putting in a backdoor "just for testing", as it can be all too easy to forget to remove it later.  If you must use one, document it boldly and clearly so that it's easy to detect when you review the code later.
  • Do carefully review your code before putting it into production, and even better, have someone else review it as well, since they might catch bugs that aren't obvious to you.
  • Always keep a copy of your code on a separate server, so that if your development or production servers get hacked, you can run a code comparison to your protected code to see if anything was changed by the hackers.

Clean Up After Yourself

Leaving junk behind in your public web hosting account directories can cause multiple problems, so keep your public directories clean:

  • When installing code updates, keep the installers out of your public directories, or at least move them out once you are finished with the update.  If your hosting account doesn't already have a private directory, create one and use it for installers, backups, etc.
  • If you edit live code, don't leave any backup copies in the live directories.  If you need to make a backup of a file before editing it, put the copy in a private directory.  There are many ways in which an improperly named backup file could accidentally expose the program code to a hacker, and depending on the file, this could expose internal user account credentials, shared secrets, or internal server names, all of which could be quite valuable to a hacker.
  • If you run a major update and want to move your current installation to a different folder, once again move it somewhere inside a private (non-public) directory, especially if there is no need to be able to access the old installation over the web.  If you do need to leave the old installation up temporarily, plan a date at which it will be shut down, and if at all possible, firewall that directory for the interim to just on-campus IP addresses (or if possible, just IP addresses for your local unit).  Old installations usually never get patched, and thus can become huge forgotten security holes if left publicly accessible over the web.
  • Security precautions aside, keeping your public web directories neatly cleaned up will help you in many other ways, including making it easier to debug problems and in some cases even speeding up application performance.

Suppliers and Contracts

Suppliers and Contracts
esembrat3 Wed, 01/14/2015 - 10:27

This section covers all aspects of having websites created or managed by someone outside of your Georgia Tech unit, such as hiring a consultant from another part of campus, or using an outside web development company.

Suppliers and Contracts Sub-Topics

Georgia Tech Web Design Contract

Georgia Tech Web Design Contract
esembrat3 Tue, 01/27/2015 - 09:54

This page details the Georgia Tech Web Design Contract active as of January 2015.

What is the Georgia Tech Web Design Contract?

The Georgia Tech Web Design Contract allows units on campus to request and receive web design and development work through pre-approved suppliers without having to go through the usual RFP process for selecting and working with a supplier. This allows for campus web projects to be initiated faster and to work with suppliers that understand Georgia Tech's web infrastructure, platforms, and restrictions.

Georgia Tech Web Design Documents & Updates

The Georgia Tech Campus Web Suppliers website houses documentation, updates, and details for both on-campus units and off-campus pre-approved web suppliers.

Web Design Contract Sub-Topics

Starting the Web Design Process

Starting the Web Design Process
esembrat3 Wed, 01/14/2015 - 10:28

In January 2015, Georgia Tech finalized the Small Web Project Specification and Large Web Project Specification. This change drastically simplifies and accelerates the process for evaluating and selecting suppliers for web development work. 


Please note that you must complete the BuzzMart training before you can view, evaluate, and select a supplier in BuzzMart. The training takes approximately 1 hour to complete for Shopper access. See details at Procurement's website.

For questions about completing the training, contact Procurement & Business Services.

Selecting a Supplier

To view suppliers for a small or large web project, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to TechWorks.
  2. From the TechWorks homepage, select the 'Access Buzzmart' icon from the middle column.
  3. From the left black bar, select the shopping cart icon ('Shop') and select 'Browse By -> Contracts'.
  4. On the Search for Contract page, type 'web' for Contact Keyword and click Search.
  5. On the results page, all suppliers with contracts of "Web Design Project - Small/Large Job" are Georgia Tech contracted suppliers.
  6. Click the contract number to view the Contract Summary.
  7. Each contract contains a SUPPLIER GENERAL INFORMATION WORKSHEET. Supplier information (email, phone) will be available for you to contact the supplier and initiate a job.  You may contact the Contract Owner (Teresa Holcomb) to discuss how to select between suppliers. 
  8. It is recommended for any job greater than $10,000 you request a quote from multiple suppliers.
  9. Services of $5,000 or greater require an approved CTR.

For any questions about this process, contact Purchasing at Procurement & Business Services @

Starting the Project

Once the supplier has been selected, initiating the project is just a few steps:

  1. First, ensure that the estimate you received from the supplier matches the pricing matrix for the supplier listed on BuzzMart. This is required for initiating the project and will be denied if the pricing does not match.
  2. The Business Partner/Contact for your unit must create a Requisition Request in BuzzMart.  
  3. Once the Requisition Request has been approved, a Purchase Order will be assigned to the project, and work can begin with the supplier.


  • Institute Communications recommends that any large web design project first meet with them to discuss any resources for branding, theming, and additional assets. Contact your Client Manager to begin this process.
  • Scope changes, additional work over the estimation process will require the re-submission of documents (CTR, Requisition Request) to match the updated costs.

Large Project Suppliers

Large Project Suppliers
esembrat3 Wed, 01/14/2015 - 10:27

Projects for the RFP are categorized into whether they are small or large.

Large Project

A large RFP project is defined as a project requiring multiple areas of feedback and deliverables, large development, and long-scoped projects. These projects usually cost more than $25,000.

An example of this project is:

Complete redesign of an existing site using Drupal 7

Large Project Suppliers

  • Enablus LLC
  • Mediacurrent Interactive Solutions
  • Simply Web Inc
  • TBS Communications Inc (dba)
  • Whats Up Interactive LLC

Small Project Suppliers

Small Project Suppliers
esembrat3 Fri, 01/30/2015 - 14:51

Projects for the RFP are categorized into whether they are small or large.

Small Project

A small RFP project is defined as a project requiring a simple web-related task to be completed. These projects usually cost less than $25,000.

An example of this project is:

Migration of an existing site to Drupal 7

Small Project Suppliers

  • Not yet available.

Supplier Scores & Prices

Supplier Scores & Prices
esembrat3 Thu, 02/12/2015 - 11:30

In order to assist web projects in determining the RFP scores (technical prowess and expertise) and pricing matrix (pricing scales), an extra document has been added to each supplier contract on BuzzMart.


Each supplier contract on Techworks has a document titled [SUPPLIER NAME] Pricing Matrix & RFP Scores. This document contains (in order):

  • A pricing matrix provided by the supplier listing suggested pricing for example projects.
  • A scoring matrix of the supplier compared to all similar suppliers on the project list.

Please note that a high cost score on the scoring matrix translates to a lower cost supplier

On-Campus Contract Work

On-Campus Contract Work
esembrat3 Tue, 01/27/2015 - 11:39

On-campus web developers can, in some cases, serve as contractors for on-campus web work

Important Notes

  • Please note that is strongly advised that you receive direct agreement from your supervisor and the hiring unit's leadership before beginning work. 
  • To simplify the process, the best practice is to complete this work outside of the employee's regular working hours. 

Employee Policy

5.3.2 Extra Compensation:

Extra compensation may be paid to employees for tasks performed after normal business hours for duties not included in the employee’s normal job responsibilities, provided the following three criteria are met:

  1. The tasks must be outside of the employee’s regular department.

  2. The Departmental Agreement Form, must be completed and signed by the appropriate department heads. Departmental Agreement Form

  3. The employee must meet at least one of the criteria listed below (Criteria from the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 45-10-25):

    • Chaplain
    • Fireman
    • Dentist
    • Certified Oral or Manual Interpreter for Deaf Persons
    • Registered Nurse
    • Licensed Practical Nurse
    • Psychologist
    • Teacher or Instructor of an evening or night course or program
    • Professional holding a doctoral or masters degree from an accredited college or university
    • Part-time employee

Also, an employee meeting all three criteria listed above may be paid extra compensation for a task for another department during normal job hours if the task is not part of the employee’s normal job responsibilities, and the employee takes annual leave for the portion of time that is being used for the task receiving extra compensation.

Employees that have been determined by the institution to be non-exempt, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and are performing extra duties could qualify for overtime pay. Non-exempt employees should be paid at least the overtime rate or more.

Examples of situations justifying the payment of extra compensation are:

  • An employee teaching a continuing education course after hours or while taking annual leave, when teaching the course is not part of the employee’s normal job responsibilities.

    Note: This is allowable under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 45-10-25, No. 15.

  • A part-time public safety officer working extra hours to referee a ball game.

    Note: Georgia Code 45-10-25 does not apply to part time employees.

  • A staff member with a masters degree doing web design for another department.

    Note: This is allowable if the required Departmental Agreement Form is completed and signed by the appropriate department heads.

Web Hosting Solutions

Web Hosting Solutions kp37 Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:13

There are a number of options available to you for hosting a website at Georgia Tech, including:

The general rule of thumb for selecting a web hosting solution is to go with the solution that is the closest fit to the size and nature of your website.  Specifically:

  • Try to use Professional Web Presence for any WordPress needs, rather than set up your own copy of WordPress in OIT hosting or on a unit managed web server.  Once you set up a separate copy of WordPress, you then have to make sure it is getting all needed security and bug fixing patches.
  • Try to use OIT Web Hosting for any Drupal needs, as OIT hosting provides Installatron, which can handle Drupal security and bug fix patches for you.  If you run Drupal on a unit managed server, you will likely have to handle all of these patches yourself by hand.
  • Only request a unit managed web server (or an OIT virtual machine, which will be charged back to your unit) for a non-standard web application that won't run properly on OIT Web Hosting.

Web Hosting Sub-Topics

OIT Web Hosting

OIT Web Hosting
wrusk3 Mon, 02/16/2015 - 09:30

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) provides an on-campus web hosting service for official Georgia Tech units and projects.  This service can host many popular PHP based content management systems, including Drupal and WordPress.  For those looking to quickly setup a unit-level website, OIT Web Hosting now supports Drupal Express, which will give you a jump start on building a Drupal based website by installing Drupal plus a number of standard add-on components, such as the official Georgia Tech website theme.

OIT has provided documentation on web hosting via the OIT FAQ, and an administrator's guide for the hosting control panel system, Plesk, is also available.

OIT Web Hosting Sub-Topics

How to Request a Web Hosting Space from OIT

How to Request a Web Hosting Space from OIT klp Wed, 08/17/2016 - 15:15

Overview of the Process

  1. In a web browser, go to
  2. Log in, using your GT account and password (e.g. "gburdell1").
  3. In the grey horizontal section, select the Request a site on Plesk link, which will take you to a request form.
  4. Fill in the requested information that is needed to set up your site.
  5. Check the boxes that acknowledge you have read/understood both the relevant policies AND that OIT does NOT offer support for installing or maintaining your website.
  6. Select the Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  7. These requests will take up to 72 hours to complete. You will receive an email once the site has been set up.

Below is a detailed explanation of the sections of this request form.

Requestor Information

This is you. Happily, this is already filled out for you!

Web Site Information

  • Preferred Domain Name:  Enter the top-level domain name that you want.  Don't enter any development or testing related prefixes onto the name (e.g.,, or  If you need separate sites for development, testing and production, enter those details in the "DNS setup" box, as described below.  For details about how domain aliases work best on OIT's web hosting, read this helpful FAQ about requesting Dev, Test & Production environments.
  • Notification Email Address for Website:  This is where all system generated notifications about the hosting account (e.g. SSH password has expired) will be sent.  You can enter a comma separated list of addresses, or the address of a mailing list that you have set up for the account.  NOTE: OIT Hosting no longer automatically sets up a dedicated administrator mailing list for new hosting accounts - you have to make/request such a list yourself if you want one. 
  • Student Organization:  Check this box only if you are setting up this site for a student organization as defined in this section of the request form.  If checked, your site will be put on a special web server dedicated to student organization sites.
  • DNS should be setup when created:  In most cases, you'll want to check this box.  Only leave unchecked if you (or your unit's IT manager) have access to the campus DNS for the domain in which your requested Domain Name is located, and you plan to setup your requested Domain Name in DNS yourself.
  • I am building a Drupal Express website:  Checking this box will pre-populate your hosting account with a fresh build of the Drupal environment distribution known as Drupal Express.  This will give you a jump start on building a Drupal based website by installing Drupal plus a number of standard add-on components, such as the official Georgia Tech website theme.
  • Preferred Host Server:  If you have any existing hosting accounts and would like the new account on the same server as one of them, select the server you would prefer.  This can be helpful if you really need to have two accounts access the same database (though this is not recommended and should be avoided with any new site development.)  Please note there is no guarantee that your account will be put on the server you select.

Policy Compliance

This is all of the legal fine print.  Be sure to read the linked policies and make sure you understand it before checking these boxes and submitting your request.

Add an Administrator to Your Web Hosting Control Panel

Add an Administrator to Your Web Hosting Control Panel
klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 16:47

Important: Only the Web Hosting site owner (and OIT) can add or remove Web Hosting site administrators, and only OIT can change a Web Hosting site's owner.


To grant or revoke access for another person to access your OIT Web Hosting site's Plesk control panel, an owner of the site should do the following:

  1. Go to in your web browser.
  2. Select the Log In with your GA Tech account button in the middle of the page.
  3. After logging in, select the Plesk Web Admin link in the main menu bar.
  4. Locate the web hosting site in question in your hosting account list and select the cogwheel icon next to it.
  5. On the next page, select the Edit tab to modify the web hosting site's configuration.
  6. Update the entries in the Administrator's Primary GT Account section, noting the following:
    • You must enter each person's GT Account Username (no other identifier will work)
    • Use the Add another item button to add extra blank spaces if needed.
    • To remove an existing administrator, just delete the person's GT Account from the given blank (you can re-use the blank for a different person if you wish.
  7. Don't forget to select the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Owners (at least, some owners) can now update the owner information.  The process works exactly the same as it does for updating administrators.  If you have this access, make sure to keep your site's owner information current to maintain your site's security and allow OIT to contact the right people if any problems should come up.

Accessing your Web Hosting Site via SSH (Command Line)

Accessing your Web Hosting Site via SSH (Command Line)
klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 16:50

Below are some helpful tips on how to use the SSH to get command line access your web hosting site via a Windows or Mac computer.

A sample command you might run to access your site is:

$ ssh my-ftp-username@my-internal-domain-name

Configure Automatic Backups on OIT's Web Hosting

Configure Automatic Backups on OIT's Web Hosting
klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 15:52

The instructions below explain how to configure the Plesk control panel on OIT's web hosting to keep automatic backups of your entire site.


First, read this general FAQ on how to create scheduled backups.

Setting Recommendations

For a Georgia Tech Drupal site, good default settings are:

  • Backup period: Daily

  • Maximum number of backups in repository: 14

  • Backup content: All configuration and content except mail

  • Suspend domain until backup task is completed: Depends on whether you want your site to be unavailable while this backup is happening.

Who Owns an OIT Hosted Website?

Who Owns an OIT Hosted Website?
wrusk3 Mon, 02/16/2015 - 09:32

If you have administrative access to at least one OIT Web Hosting account, you can look up the owners and administrators of any other account.  Simply navigate to the Plesk Web Admin Tools page and use the "FIND OWNER / ADMIN / SITE" look-up box.

Unfortunately, there is no longer a means for looking up an account owner / administrator if you do not have access to at least one hosting account.  In this case, you will need to either contact OIT for assistance, or find someone who does own an account to perform the look-up for you.

Please note: The Web Hosting Plesk Web Admin Tools page can only be accessed from on-campus or via the campus VPN.

Enabling and Using SSL on OIT Web Hosting

Enabling and Using SSL on OIT Web Hosting kp37 Fri, 03/10/2017 - 13:02

SSL encryption is highly recommended for websites these days, not just because it makes user interactions with your site more secure, but also because the major browser manufacturers are starting to mark all non-SSL encrypted sites with some kind of red symbol (red padlock, red 'X' through a padlock, etc.) to better warn users not to enter sensitive information into these sites.  So, from a marketing standpoint, it's going to make your site look more professional if you turn on SSL encryption, which will keep those red warning symbols from showing.

OIT provides two Frequently Asked Questions articles that cover much of what you need to know to get started your site set up with SSL encryption:

In addition, it's important to know that OIT Web Hosting accounts come in two flavors: old-style, which were originally set up more than two to three years ago, and new-style, which were set up more recently.  Old-style accounts will have separate 'httpdocs' and 'httpsdocs' directories for your public files, which in essence means that you have two separate sites in one account.  The How to Force Your Site's HTTP Traffic to HTTPS OIT FAQ article doesn't address how to handle these older accounts - its instructions are only effective for new-style accounts.

If you own or have inherited an old-style account, and you want to make it run exclusively as an SSL encrypted HTTPS site, here are some options available to you:

  1. You can remove or rename the 'httpsdocs' directory in your hosting account and symlink 'httpsdocs' to the 'httpdocs' directory.  This will make the account act just like a new-style account.  You'll need a little familiarity with UNIX, however, as this has to be done via the SSH command line (the Plesk File Manager interface doesn't give you an option to create symlinks).
  2. You can open a ticket with OIT and ask them to make the appropriate changes for you.  (They'll likely just change the account's configuration to point both HTTP and HTTPS traffic to your httpdocs directory, rather than use the symlink method.)
  3. You can put a .htaccess file in your 'httpdocs' directory with the following line in it, replacing '' with the actual DNS hostname for your site:

    Redirect /

Setting Up SSL on OIT Web Hosting with an External Domain Name

Setting Up SSL on OIT Web Hosting with an External Domain Name root Fri, 07/07/2017 - 16:12

To set up an external domain name with SSL encryption on an OIT Web Hosting account:

Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) File

You can generate a CSR for an OIT Web Hosting site from the site's Plesk Control Panel:

  1. Log into and navigate to your site's control panel
  2. On the control panel page, select SSL Certificates
  3. On the SSL Certificates page, select Add SSL Certificate.
  4. On the Add SSL Certificate page, fill in the requested information and then select the Request button (do not use the Self-Signed button!)
  5. That will generate a CSR that you can then upload to a third party certificate provider, and your Private key is auto-generated and stored in your Plesk Control Panel. 

Uploading and Enabling the Certificate

Once you have received your certificate from your provider:

  1. Log into and navigate to your site's control panel
  2. On the control panel page, select SSL Certificates
  3. Choose or Browse to the fileon your local computer, then select the Upload Certificate button.
  4. After the certificate has been uploaded, select Websites & Domains in the left-hand menu bar, then select Hosting Settings in the main control panel
  5. Look in the middle of the page for the Security section.   Select your certificate via the provided drop-down selector
  6. Select the OK button to save your changes.

OIT Hosting and Hosting Site Mailing Lists

OIT Hosting and Hosting Site Mailing Lists
kp37 Wed, 03/08/2017 - 16:53

Prior to late 2016, OIT always set up a Sympa mailing list whenever it set up a web hosting account, and the '' site automatically managed the membership of that mailing list, syncing the hosting account's administrators and owners to the mailing list.

This process changed with the late 2016 upgrade of ''. Previously existing mailing lists remain in place, but new hosting accounts do not get mailing lists created for them, and owners and administrators are no longer synced to the existing mailing lists for existing hosting accounts. Instead, there is now a Notification Email Address for Website field where the site owner or administrator can specify an email address where Plesk server notifications (e.g. your hosting account SSH password is about to expire) can be sent.

Here's what you need to know about this new system:

  • If you have a previously existing hosting account and want to keep using the previously existing notifications mailing list, you should open a ticket with OIT and ask them to make you the owner of that Sympa mailing list. Then, you can manually update the mailing list as needed.
  • If you have a new hosting account, you can manually request a Sympa mailing list for the people who will own and administer that account. Once the list has been approved, enter the list's delivery email address into the 'Notification Email Address for Website' field for the associated hosting account.
  • If you don't want to use a Sympa mailing list, you can enter any address into the 'Notification Email Address for Website' field. In theory, you can enter a comma separated list of addresses, although there have been conflicting reports as to whether or not this actually works.

Professional Web Presence (PWP)

Professional Web Presence (PWP)
esembrat3 Fri, 02/20/2015 - 14:04

At Georgia Tech, WordPress is officially supported through the Professional Web Presence (PWP). Such use-cases include faculty, research group, research lab, organizational, and personal websites. These websites would act as brochure-ware websites.

Besides the PWP specific resources listed below, we also have a section of general WordPress resources in this knowledge base.

Professional Web Presence Sub-Topics

Creating a New Website on PWP

Creating a New Website on PWP esembrat3 Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:04

To request a Professional Web Presence website, follow the directions below.


  1. Navigate to
  2. From the main menu, select 'Website Request'.
  3. Click the 'Website Request' button.
  4. Log in to the website if you are not yet logged in using your GT Account and password.
  5. Enter a website title, folder name for the site to live under, and visibility.
  6. Click 'Create Website'.
  7. Log in to your new website.


Anyone from GTRI is required to get a waiver for creating a public-facing website. Please contact your CSR to initiate this process.

Custom Domains in PWP

Custom Domains in PWP esembrat3 Fri, 02/20/2015 - 14:08

By default, your Professional Web Presence (PWP) website will be accessible through a URL like so:

However, any PWP website on can be set up with a custom domain name.  Please read our guide to custom domain names for a full explanation of the options available to you.


Custom domain names are not required for PWP websites, and you can add a custom domain later on after you have built out your website.

For an outside (non-Georgia Tech) domain name, some extra steps must be followed when setting up your domain name with an outside service.

Obtaining a Custom Domain Name

Please see the Domain Name Guide for terminology definitions.

Custom Georgia Tech Sub-Domain Name

We highly recommend that you use a custom sub-domain name within the department that is most closely associated with your website and/or your employment at Georgia Tech.  It is usually quicker and easier to obtain this kind of domain name, which looks like, where "subunit" is most any name except "www" (which is reserved as an alias for the unit's top-level domain).

To obtain a custom sub-domain, submit the following message to your local IT support through their standard support channel, replacing "subunit.something" with the actual name that you want:


I would like to request the subdomain be created as a CNAME for  Please let me know when this subdomain has been added to campus DNS.

Thank you,

Your Name Here

Custom Georgia Tech Top-Level Domain Name

If your website is for a major unit of Georgia Tech or a very high level project or activity/event, then you can request a custom top-level domain name.  However, be aware that it will take longer to obtain the necessary approvals, so you should consider using a sub-domain name (see the previous section) if one could work well enough for your website.

To obtain a custom top-level domain, you must submit the following message directly to, replacing "something" with the actual name that you want:

Subject:  Request for New DNS CNAME


I would like to request the custom domain name be created as a CNAME for  The purpose of this domain name is for a new website to represent [insert here a description of your major unit or high level project, activity, or event].

Thank you,

Your Name Here

After receiving notice from OIT that your domain name has been added to the campus DNS system, follow the steps in the next section (Setting up the Custom Domain Name in WordPress).

Setting up the Custom Domain Name in WordPress (PWP)

Warning! Do not complete these steps until you have received confirmation that your new domain name (or sub-domain name) has been added to the campus DNS system.  If you complete these steps before your domain name is added to the campus DNS, you will lock yourself and everyone else out of your website.  If this should happen, contact the PWP administrators ( ) for assistance.

  1. Log into the administrative interface for your PWP website (
  2. From the My Sites drop-down menu item on the top menubar/toolbar, select your website.
  3. From the left-hand administration menu, select Tools -> Domain Mapping
  4. Enter the new domain name in the text box, select the Primary domain for this blog checkbox, and select Save.

Alternatively, you can email the PWP administrators ( ) and ask them to add your new custom domain name to your site.  Be sure to specify both the custom domain name you had created, and the current URL for your PWP website.

Technical Details

A few considerations for using a custom domain:

  • The DNS record should (preferably) be a CNAME for

Domain Configuration Resources

Courtesy of the Domain Mapping plugin that is utilized by PWP for supporting custom domain names:

Your users should go to Tools->Domain Mapping where they can add or delete domains. One domain must be set as the primary domain for the blog. When mapping a domain, (like '') your users must create an A record in their DNS pointing at that IP address. They should use multiple A records if your server uses more than one IP address. If your user is mapping a hostname of a domain (sometimes called a "subdomain") like or it's sufficient to create a CNAME record pointing at the blog server hostname (NOT IP address).

Off-Campus Domains

Off-Campus Domains esembrat3 Tue, 11/15/2016 - 09:11

For any off-campus domain (e.g. a domain that does not end in, a few more steps are required for configuring the domain beyond setting the custom domain for a site in PWP.


Proper setup of the off-campus domain (and its www.{customdomain} alternative) require the following:

  • Use a host record with the "same as domain" setting and without a reverse (PTR) record. For the record data, use the actual IP address for PWP (
  • Create a CNAME for 'www' that maps to the host record you just created.

PWP Custom Non-Georgia Tech Domains

PWP Custom Non-Georgia Tech Domains
esembrat3 Thu, 10/05/2017 - 09:37

Please note that the instructions on this page only apply to PWP siteowners who are using a custom domain such as {domain}.com. 

This does not apply to any custom domain containing

Custom Non-Georgia Tech Domains

In order to use your non-Georgia Tech custom domain, you must authorize your new domain with OIT to use the Georgia Tech login service.

Without completing this, a custom non-Georgia Tech domain will not be able to authenticate through Georgia Tech login, and you will be locked out of your PWP website.

Authentication Process

To authorize your custom non-Georgia Tech domain to work on PWP, follow the steps below:

  1. Open a web browser and navigate to the Identity Management Access Request Form with OIT.
  2. For 'Requestor Information', please complete all fields with your personal information.

  3. For 'Form Type', please mark "Guided Form".

  4. For 'Background Information', leave this section blank.

  5. For 'Application Information', provide the following:

    1. "What is the name of your application?" - Put website URL here

    2. Fill in the other fields as best as you can -- explain how the website at the address is connected to official Georgia Tech business and why it needs to be at a address

  6. For 'Authentication Information', select "CAS (".

  7. For 'Data Request', leave this section blank.

  8. For 'Account Setup Process', leave this section blank.

  9. Submit the form. You'll receive a response from OIT when the process is complete.

Once OIT approves the form submission, your custom non-Georgia Tech domain will be available for usage on PWP.

How To Build Sites in PWP

How To Build Sites in PWP esembrat3 Fri, 10/02/2015 - 09:52

This section serves to document the 'how to' to build certain aspects of websites seen on other Professional Web Presence (PWP) websites.

PWP Available Themes

PWP Available Themes esembrat3 Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:47

This page details all available themes for WordPress through the Professional Web Presence (PWP) service.  Additional information on configuring and managing a theme can be found in the general WordPress section of this Knowledge Base.


All themes may not be listed below. Please add the theme in if it does not appear.

PWP Theme List

GT Boilerplate (Genesis)

GT Boilerplate (Genesis) esembrat3 Thu, 01/22/2015 - 15:17

wp-gt-boilerplate is the de facto standard for Georgia Tech-styled WordPress themes.

Based on the 2014 redesign by mStoner, wp-gt-boilerplate brings a responsive Georgia Tech-friendly design to WordPress websites. 

Technical Details

GT Boilerplate is based on Studiopress' Genesis theme framework. The theme is based on the Quattro subtheme.

Download @ GitHub

wp-gt-boilerplate can be found on Github @ GT.


The PWP main website is currently using the GT Boilerplate theme.

Theme Options

Custom Plugins & Themes

Custom Plugins & Themes esembrat3 Wed, 11/04/2015 - 08:08

To maintain security updates and maintenance across PWP, site-specific plugins and themes are not allowed.

Request a Theme or Plugin

To request a theme or plugin for all PWP sites, please use the request form.

Default Georgia Tech Logos in GT Boilerplate

Default Georgia Tech Logos in GT Boilerplate esembrat3 Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:38

In the Professional Web Presence (PWP) GT Boilerplate Theme, the default Georgia Tech logo used can be changed from the Customize section of your theme settings.

Changing the Displayed Logo

To change the displayed logo, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your PWP site.
  2. On the left-hand admin menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.
  3. On the Customizer page, select 'GT Theme Settings'.
  4. Use the dropdown for 'Which Georgia Tech logo should be used for default?' to select your logo and click 'Save'.

Supported Logos

The following logos are supported currently:

  • Georgia Tech (general)
  • College of Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Architecture
  • College of Computing
  • Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
  • Scheller College of Business

Custom Logos

Custom logos can be added as normal to override these, but please note the IC-provided disclaimer on the 'Header Image' setting:

The Branding Strip should include an approved Georgia Tech logo that meets the Branding and Visual Identity Guidelines at

Information regarding licensing and proper use of the Institute’s trademarks is available at

Full-Width Header & Footer

Full-Width Header & Footer esembrat3 Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:43

Changing the default layout (to full-width) can be customized from the Customize section of your theme settings.

Changing to Full-Width

To add social media links, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your PWP site.
  2. On the left-hand admin menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.
  3. On the Customizer page, select 'GT Theme Settings'.
  4. Use the dropdown for 'Full-width headers and footers?' to enable or disable this feature and click 'Save'.

Minimal Georgia Tech Footer

Minimal Georgia Tech Footer esembrat3 Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:44

Changing the footer to show a minimal feature-set can be customized from the Customize section of your theme settings.


Please note that the minimal footer is not customizable

Enabling/Disabling Minimal Georgia Tech Footer

To add social media links, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your PWP site.
  2. On the left-hand admin menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.
  3. On the Customizer page, select 'GT Theme Settings'.
  4. Use the dropdown for 'Use minimal GT footer?' to enable or disable this feature and click 'Save'.

Social Media Buttons

Social Media Buttons esembrat3 Fri, 09/25/2015 - 07:35

Social media buttons can be added from the Customize section of your theme settings.

Adding Social Media

To add social media links, follow the directions below:

  1. Log in to your PWP site.
  2. On the left-hand admin menu, select 'Appearance -> Customize'.
  3. On the Customizer page, select 'Social Media Icons'.
  4. For the social media service you want to add a link to, provide a URL to your social media page on the specific field and click 'Save'.

Services Offered

Currently, the following social media outlets are supported:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • Flickr
  • RSS
  • Github

GT Boilerplate Bold

GT Boilerplate Bold esembrat3 Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:58

GT Boilerplate Bold is the Professional Web Presence (PWP) equivalent of It is a radical way to change the look of your website, add some variation, and present your web content to a general campus audience.

We’ve adapted styling and consistency from Georgia Tech’s Institute Communications design, while branching off a few features specifically for PWP-specific functionality.


Georgia Tech Institute Communications has provided documentation about whether your website is available to use this theme variation. Please consult GTIC’s client managers for more information.

Please note that PWP administrators cannot deter you from using this theme. We will forward you to GTIC for any queries on whether your website meets the requirements to use this theme variation.

Enable GT Boilerplate Bold

To enable GT Boilerplate Bold, follow the directions below:

  1. Log into PWP and access the Dashboard for your website.
  2. On the administrative dashboard, select 'Appearance -> Customize' from the left-hand menu.
  3. From the Customizer menu, select 'Georgia Tech Theme'.
  4. From the list of Georgia Tech theme customizations, locate the 'GT Boilerplate Bold' setting. Enable or disable this setting to view how your website would look.

PWP Website Redirects

PWP Website Redirects esembrat3 Wed, 05/10/2017 - 14:41

To set up a website redirect from your PWP website, please follow the instructions below.

Redirect Process

This process has been lifted from this Stackoverflow article.

  1. Enable the redirection module.
  2. On the redirection preferences, select the site configuration as so:

Source: /(.*) Target:$1

PWP: Georgia Tech Only Access

PWP: Georgia Tech Only Access esembrat3 Thu, 10/15/2015 - 10:57

To make your website accessible only to users with a Georgia Tech GT Account Username, follow the directions below:

  • Navigate to 'Settings -> GT CAS Auth' on the Dashboard.
  • Set 'Privacy Setting -> Private' and 'Automatically Create Accounts -> Yes'.
  • Save your settings.

Please be aware that many people have GT Account Usernames - not just current faculty, staff, and students.  Others with GT Account Usernames include alumni, emeritus faculty, student applicants, visiting students and scholars, and outside contractors.  If you really want your content to be visible only to current faculty, staff, and students, you will need to use a system other than PWP for your website.

Removing a PWP Website

Removing a PWP Website esembrat3 Mon, 04/27/2015 - 11:52

To remove a website from Professional Web Presence (PWP), follow the directions below.

Website Deletion

  1. Log in to your PWP website.
  2. From the admin dashboard, locate "Tools -> Delete Site" from the administrative sidebar.
  3. Follow the directions on the "Delete Site" page to initiate a site deletion.


Please note that a PWP website will not be deleted until you click the link in the "Delete My Site" email. This email is sent only to the site owner, who is the user who created the website.


For any questions or comments about this process, please contact the PWP administration.

Unit Managed Web Servers

Unit Managed Web Servers
kp37 Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:53

Some Georgia Tech units may offer locally managed web servers for hosting locally managed websites and web applications – check with your unit's information technology support staff to see what is available to your unit.  A stand-alone web server can be useful for larger web applications that need more resources than a shared hosting account (such as an OIT Web Hosting account) can offer.  In virtually all cases, however, you would not need a stand-alone web server for any standard content management system like Drupal or WordPress.  Please see our main Web Hosting Solutions page for suggestions on how to select the best hosting for your needs.

Finally, please do not try to set up your own web server if you do not have experience in properly configuring and managing such a server.  An improperly configured web server can be very dangerous to both the sites it hosts and to other servers on the same network, as it could become a gateway for hackers to gain access to other neighboring servers.  If you need a stand-alone web server for a particular project, consult with your unit's information technology support staff and let them set up the server or guide you through the process.

Outside Web Hosting Solutions

Outside Web Hosting Solutions kp37 Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:42

Commercial Web Hosting

There are dozens if not hundreds of commercial web hosting solutions available outside of Georgia Tech, but use of them for Georgia Tech related websites is not recommended for a number of reasons:

  • Most will require some form of payment, which is an unnecessary expense when free web hosting is available from on-campus resources (see OIT Web Hosting and Professional Web Presence).
  • In most cases, you will not be able to point a * DNS hostname to an outside hosting account, so you will also have to purchase your own domain name, which is further unnecessary expense.  A non-standard DNS hostname may also confuse your site visitors, who will expect any entity connected to Georgia Tech to have a * hostname.
  • Georgia Tech has no control over accounts with outside hosting vendors, so if the person who ordered the account leaves Georgia Tech, your unit may find itself locked out of its own web site, and Georgia Tech information technology support can not do anything to help you in that situation.  This could even have legal ramifications, as it means a once legitimate Georgia Tech website could be sitting out on the internet possibly getting hacked and likely sharing out-of-date information.
  • Services available to Georgia Tech websites and web applications, like Central Authentication Service (CAS), may not available to sites hosted off-campus, which means that you would be missing out on useful security and access management features.
  • If you store sensitive data in your website or web application, you may be violating Georgia Tech policy, or even state or federal law, if you host that site or application on unapproved web hosting.  Any site or application that deals with sensitive data should always be hosted on Georgia Tech owned or approved hosting!

If you have a valid and legitimate reason for hosting a site off-campus on commercial web hosting, make certain that multiple full-time employees in your unit have administrative access to the hosting account.  Also make sure that your unit's financial staff know how to make yearly service payments so that the site doesn't suddenly disappear (and to avoid a panic due to someone realizing that the site needs to be renewed the day before it's going to expire.)

Social Media Sites

Many free social media services allow you to build the equivalent of a website, and this may seem like a good alternative to a commercial hosting service.  However, the same concerns apply regarding potential loss of access to the account and inability of Georgia Tech information technology support to help you with these accounts. (Always make sure that multiple full-time employees in your unit know the passwords for all of your social media sites!)  In addition, it's usually not a good idea to put your main web presence into social media, as that can turn away potential visitors who are not fans of social media.  In the case of services like FaceBook, visitors who are not users of the service may also find themselves unable to access all of your information due to the members-only access limitations of these services.

The best practice for units and student organizations is to use social media sites to supplement your web presence, but to always build and maintain at least a small standard website for your public audience that lets anyone and everyone see who you are and what you are doing.

A Guide to Domain Names

A Guide to Domain Names
root Thu, 07/20/2017 - 17:14

Every website needs a domain name to identify it (e.g., but not all domain names are equal.  The following attempts to demystify domain names and help you select the best name for your new website.

Georgia Tech Domain Names

Georgia tech owns the entire * domain space, and so you can request names within this space at no charge to your unit.  However, there are differences in names, and new rules coming into effect that you need to consider.

Top Level Georgia Tech Domain Names

These names look like or, where "something" is a unique identifier for a Georgia Tech unit.  Top level names can convey a sense of prestige, but can only be created and managed by the Office of Information Technology (OIT), and there are new rules coming into effect governing who can request a top level domain name.  If your website is for a major unit of Georgia Tech or a very high level project or activity/event, then such a domain may be right for you - contact OIT to put in a name request.  Otherwise, please read on.

Georgia Tech Sub-Domain Names

Major units of Georgia Tech that already have their own top level Georgia Tech Domain Name can create any number of subdomain names, which look like, where "subunit" is most any name except "www" (which is reserved as an alias for the unit's top-level domain).

Sub-domain names can often be created and updated by a unit's own Information Technology (IT) staff, which can usually handle requests more quickly than OIT.  You also do not have to go through the institute level approval process to get a new sub-domain name, though your unit might implement their own rules on sub-domain names.  For both reasons, you can usually get a sub-domain name more quickly than a top-level Georgia Tech domain name.

(Outside) Non-Georgia Tech Domain Names

It is possible to go to a commercial hosting company and purchase a non-Georgia Tech domain name, but this practice is highly discouraged for several reasons:

  1. You'll be paying regular fees for something that you could get from within Georgia Tech for free.
  2. Your website may not be regarded by your site visitors as being official, even though it is.
  3. Your site may not be able to make use of Georgia Tech services that are limited to websites with a * hostname.
  4. OIT may not be willing to host your website with an outside domain name (they reserve the right to make this decision on a case-by-case basis), so you may end up having to pay for outside web hosting as well.
  5. If you ever fail to renew your outside name, it could be grabbed by a spammer who could then put up a fake site under that domain name (and yes, this has happened to at least one Georgia Tech unit in the past).  This could hurt your unit's image and reputation for many years to come, as it is nearly impossible to get all links to your site throughout the internet updated to a new domain name.

If your circumstances still warrant getting an outside domain name, make certain that billing is set up to go directly to your unit's financial department so that renewal fees get paid in a timely manner.

Website Planning and Content Strategy

Website Planning and Content Strategy
jtomasino3 Wed, 03/25/2015 - 23:24

Building and maintaining an effective website requires a significant investment of time and resources.

Websites that are built without planning or evaluation of user needs can become confusing, cluttered, and outdated – a source of frustration for both website owners and visitors.

Before you begin building your website, take a step back to answer some fundamental questions, and develop a strategy to guide the process. To help you answer these questions and develop a strategic approach, we encourage you to use this website discovery brief.

The brief includes a series of prompts to help you think through the website planning process. Completing the Web discovery brief will result in a strategic framework you can use as a guide while working on your website.

Planning and Content Strategy Sub-Topics

Website Discovery Brief

Website Discovery Brief
jtomasino3 Wed, 03/25/2015 - 23:25

Website Goals

What are the reasons for considering a website or redesign of your website?


What are your top five objectives for the new website?


State the results you want to achieve through your new website. What are your measures of success (awareness, better access, increased donations or enrollment, other)? Please specify.


What are your immediate and long-term goals for the website?


How does the website fit in with your communication goals? How do you think you can leverage the website to achieve these goals? (For example, how will the site help enroll new students, encourage donors, etc).


What do you feel is the biggest challenge in getting your message across via the Web?



Website Audience

Who are your current primary and secondary Web audiences? Can you rank them in size and importance to you?


Are there any external Web audiences that should be part of this communication channel? (For example, parents, alumni). If so, what information do you want to provide to them on the Web?


Do you want your Web audience to change? In what way(s)?


What are the top three things you want each key audience to do or find on the website? For instance, get informed, find a list services or offerings, process transactions, support operational activities, enable/support community activities, add or view events, sign up for email newsletters.



Branding and Design

Do you have defined branding guidelines for your organization as defined by your college or department? If yes, please provide the details/documents.


How does your audience currently perceive you? What would be the defining attributes from a new student or other audience perspective?


How do you wish your audiences to perceive you in future? Please state the defining attributes (professional, successful, etc.)


What is the single most important message you want to get across to your audience?


List any five peer institution websites you like in terms of visual design and that you would like to use as a benchmark.


Is there any aspect of branding and design we have left out and you would like to state?



Content and Functionality

List any five sites that you like in terms of content and functionality. Which functionality or content do you like, and why?


What content/functionality has been successful in your current website? Why is it considered successful?


What content/functionality has NOT been successful in your current website? Why?


What content do you know you would you like on the website? How frequently do you plan to or want to update your website's content?


What features and functionality would you like to have on the site?



Must Have

Nice to Have

Don't Need

Not Sure






Interactive Calendar










Social Media Buttons or Feeds (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)





Contact Form





Other Form(s)





Photo Gallery










"Latest News" Section





"Events" Section





GT Account Login Section






Are there any other features or functionality you need or would like on the site?


Where are you in the process of gathering content you will feature on the website? In what format is this content stored currently?


What is the current content management process for the website?


Is there any aspect of content or content management that we’ve missed that you would like to state?



Where is your site currently hosted? What type of hosting do you have? Is this the hosting you would like to use in the future?


Does your site connect to a database? Please describe the type of database, stored information, and requirements.


Do you have a Web developer or technical guru who will be involved in maintaining the new site?


Is there any technology (software, content management, site analytics/metrics tools, other) on your current site that must be retained? Please describe in detail.


Does your site require any external sites, systems, or software to operate? For instance, does it connect to a database, interact with an external e-commerce system, pull in content from an external RSS feed? Please describe.


Please state any other requirements for the website.  If you are unsure, we can make the optimal recommendations. For instance,

  • Load time requirements
  • Monitor resolution
  • Accessibility requirements


Is there any other aspect of technology that needs to be addressed? Please provide details.


Ongoing Maintenance

Who is responsible for the site’s strategic direction, producing its content, and updating it after launch?


Who is responsible for applying updates to your website's security and modules on an ongoing basis?



Website Marketing and Analytics

Do you currently have site metrics or analytics detailing how many visitors come to the site, what pages they visit, etc? Please include any available metrics details or documents.


How do you currently market the website? What are your plans to market the site in the future?


What are the 15 keywords for which the website should appear in the top 20 Search Results (Google/Bing)?


How do you currently conduct outreach to your audiences that would drive them to the website?


Do you participate (as an organization) in any social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.? Do you upload or share content on sites such as FlickR, PicasaWeb, or YouTube? Please list everything you are currently doing. If there are things you aren't doing yet, but would like to explore, please list those separately.


Do you maintain or participate in any other external sites that will drive traffic to or interact with this website?


Is there any aspect of Web marketing and analytics that we’ve missed and you would like to state?


Out-of-Scope Project Requirements

If your marketing dictates a need, do you wish to have Institute Communications recommend a SEO [Search Engine Optimization] specialist?


Do you have any other questions or needs we can help to answer?

Plan Your Site Structure

Plan Your Site Structure
jtomasino3 Wed, 04/15/2015 - 16:33

A well thought-out site structure is the foundation of your website's success. Before you start creating pages on your website, plan out its structure. 

Plan your hierarchy before you develop your website

Your website’s “hierarchy” is simply the way your information is organized. It should be something that is simple and makes sense.

Think about a filing cabinet. Paperwork is much easier to find when it is assigned a clearly labeled folder. The same rule applies to organizing the Web pages within a website. Humans prefer simple, logical organization, and so do search engines.

Your website’s hierarchy is the basis for your navigation and URL structure, so everything important begins here.

Here are some tips to help you plan your hierarchy:
  • Keep it simple and logical.
    Each main category should be unique and distinct. Each subcategory should somehow relate to the main category under which it is located.
  • Limit the number of main categories to seven.
    Too many categories equals clutter and confusion.
  • It doesn’t have to be fancy.
    It’s perfectly acceptable to sketch out your website hierarchy by hand on a piece of paper—or even a napkin, for that matter.

Here is an example of a website hierarchy:
site hierarchy sketch

Create a Menu structure that follows your navigation hierarchy

Sample Menu Templates

Create a URL structure that follows your navigation hierarchy

The second main element in developing strong site structure is your URL structure. If you’ve logically thought through your hierarchy, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Your URL structure will be organized according to your site hierarchy.

If we use the website hierarchy above, the URL structure would be:

  •, etc.

Additionally, your URLs should be human-readable, which will make your site visitors and search-engines happy.

College Website Information Architecture Template

College Website Information Architecture Template
jtomasino3 Thu, 03/31/2016 - 10:30

The College IA is designed to put your college’s work – academic offerings and research – at the forefront of the website.

Adopting this structure will help ensure a cohesive, unified experience across Georgia Tech academic sites. Users who visit multiple sites, such as students comparing degree programs, will have an easier time finding information.

A streamlined, easy-to-navigate site will also make a positive impression upon prospective students, faculty, and the larger community.


Below is a guideline for a college website’s main menu

You are not required to use menu categories that do not apply to your college, and you may have categories that are unique to your college. For consistency-sake, however, it is recommended that you, at minimum, begin the main menu with “About,” and end with “News and Events.” Limit your menu to seven categories or fewer.



Purpose: To provide background about your college and logistical information

Examples of what to include: Letter/welcome from a dean/chair, general department contact information, buildings & facilities, directions, job opportunities, history.



Purpose: To highlight your academic programs.

Examples of what to include: Information about undergraduate, graduate, and postdoc programs, secondary concentrations, program requirements, classes, admission.



Purpose: To highlight the schools within your college.

Examples of what to include: A high level overview of your schools and links to their websites.



Purpose: To highlight the latest research taking place in your college.

Examples of what to include: Highlights of faculty research, overviews of your department’s main research areas, publications, news related to research, cross-university collaborations, and research initiatives or partnerships.

What not to include: Items that are intended only for an internal audience, such as paperwork for research administration or safety procedures; this information should be included in resources.


News and Events

Purpose: To showcase what’s happening now in your department, announcements, and upcoming events. 


School Website Information Architecture Template

School Website Information Architecture Template
jtomasino3 Thu, 03/31/2016 - 10:23

The School IA is designed to showcase your academic programs, research, and student life.

By using this navigation, you are helping to provide a cohesive, unified experience across Georgia Tech academic sites. Users who visit multiple sites, such as students comparing degree programs, will have an easier time finding information.


Below is a guideline for a school website’s main menu

You are not required to use menu categories that do not apply to your school, and you may have categories that are unique to your school. For consistency’s sake, however, it is recommended that you, at minimum, begin the main menu with “About,” and end with “News and Events.” Limit your menu to seven categories or fewer.



Purpose: To provide background about your school and logistical information.

Examples of what to include: Welcome from a dean/chair, general department contact information, buildings and facilities, directions, job opportunities, and history. 



Purpose: To highlight your academic programs.

Examples of what to include: Information about undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral programs, concentrations, program requirements, and admission. 


Student Life

Purpose: To focus on academic and co-curricular elements of student life that are unique to your school or to Georgia Tech.

Examples of what to include: Student profiles, organizations, career development, community outreach, and life in Atlanta.



Purpose: To highlight the latest research taking place in your school.

Examples of what to include: Highlights of faculty research, overviews of your school’s main research areas, publications, news related to research, collaborations, and research initiatives or partnerships.

What not to include: Items that are intended only for an internal audience, such as paperwork for research administration or safety procedures; this information should be included in the bottom footer menu under Resources.



Purpose: To highlight the faculty, researchers, and staff associated with the school.


News and Events

Purpose: To showcase what’s happening now in your school, announcements, and upcoming events.


Take Stock of Your Current Content

Take Stock of Your Current Content
jtomasino3 Wed, 03/25/2015 - 23:29

Before moving your content into a new site, we encourage you to take stock of what content exists on your current site and develop a plan for migrating it.

Performing a content inventory and analysis is an excellent way to determine what content you have on your site, what needs to be updated, what can be removed, and what new content you need to create.  

Although any site can benefit from this exercise, this process is especially important for large and complex websites, and for sites that have existed for several years. These sites will commonly have pages that are out-of-date or no longer needed. 

To help you through this process, Institute Communications provides a step-by-step guide to auditing and analyzing your content and a content audit template.

Learn more about the purpose of a content inventory at

Content Audit and Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

Content Audit and Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide
jtomasino3 Wed, 03/25/2015 - 23:34

A content inventory and analysis is an excellent way to determine what content exists on your current website, what needs to be updated, what can be removed, and what new content you need to create to meet your communications goals.

After completing an inventory and analysis, it will be easier to build your new site, knowing what is needed and what is not.

Below are some tools and methods you may find helpful.

Step 1: Build the inventory

Make a list of all of your current Web pages and input them into the Content Audit and Analysis Template.

A tool to help speed up this process is xml-sitemaps.

  1. Go to
  2. Input your website URL into the "Starting URL" field, and click Start.
  3. Once the process is done, select “Download sitemap in text format.”
  4. Save the text document to your computer.
  5. Next, Open the text document, Select All of the text, and Copy it.
  6. Open GT Content Audit and Analysis Template in Exel, and paste all of the URLs into the "URL (Web Address)" column. 

Please note that xml-sitemaps will only generate a list of your first 500 URLs. Any URLs beyond this will need to be input by hand into your content audit spreadsheet. 

Step 2: Evaluate existing content

Look at each Web page and assess its purpose and condition. 

  1. First, set a goal for your content audit.
    Think about your website's audiences and what information they need to find on your site. Keeping these audiences in mind while conducting your audit will help you properly assess whether or not your content is meeting their needs.
  2. Next, grade each page.
    O: Out-of-date. Content that is still useful and will move to the new site, but should be updated.
    U: Unnecessary. Content that is not needed at all. It should not be moved to the new site.
    C: Current. Content that is fine as is, up-to-date, and just needs to be moved to the new site.
    H: Have to write. H will not be used on your first pass of the content audit, so nothing on the "AUDIT" tab should be marked H

  3. Assign an owner to each page.
    This is the person who is responsible for reviewing or updating the page content.

Step 3: Identify gaps in content

Next, think about what content you would like to add to the new site.

  1. Sort your content by grade.
  2. Copy the O and C content over to the tab titled “New Site Content Plan.”
    The U content should be left behind since it is not needed for the new site.
  3. In the “New Site Content Plan” tab, add lines for content you would like to add to the site.
    Think about what kind of content you will need to add to serve your audiences and achieve your communications goals.
  4. Assign all of the new content an H status, as well as a Page Owner and an Update Schedule.
    In order to keep your content as up-to-date as possible, make note of any pages that contain timely content. You should set up a schedule for having the Page Owner review these pages on a regular basis.
  5. Decide which photographs need to be updated or added.

Step 4: Gather and manage content

  1. Connect with the Page Owners
    Start collecting the content you need to have updated or written. Be sure to provide deadlines with lots of padding.
  2. Track the status of each page
    The "NEW WEBSITE CONTENT PLAN" spreadsheet can then become a helpful way of tracking content as you add it to the new site, whether you are simply moving over content, or writing something new. You can use the “Status” column in the content plan to keep track of the process in a way that works best for your organization.
  3. Need help formatting your content?
    Web Content Guide.
  4. Need pictures?
    Find Images for Your Website.
  5. Need videos?
    Contact Your Institute Communications Client Manager.
  6. Need a logo for your website?
    Request a logo through your Institute Communications Client Manager

Find Images for Your Website

Find Images for Your Website
jtomasino3 Fri, 04/03/2015 - 15:46

One of the most common questions that comes up when editing a website is, “Where can I find photos?” Here are some resources for finding quality images for your website.

Before you begin collecting high-resolution photos, take a few moments to visit the Institute Communications site and review the best practices for choosing and formatting images for the Web. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is to choose only photos that visually clarify the words on the page. In fact, website user testing has proven that visitors will completely ignore non-information-carrying photos.


Image Portal Photography Database

Institute Communications maintains a searchable database that houses thousands of high-resolution digital Georgia Tech photographs. 

These photos may be downloaded free of charge, but may not be sent or sold to any third party for commercial purposes. Georgia Tech owns the copyright to all images.

Access to the database is available to faculty and staff with a valid Georgia Tech account username and password.

Log in to the Image Portal


Georgia Tech Social Media Collections


Georgia Tech Digital Swag

This site houses high-resolution versions of iconic Georgia Tech images. Because they are designed for different digital devices, the images are available in several different formats.

The images are free to download and use but remain the property of Georgia Tech. The images may not be reproduced for resale or retail promotion without written permission from the Georgia Tech Licensing Department.

Go to the Digital Swag Site


Public Domain Images

Public domain images have no copyright restrictions and may be used freely.  Many government agency websites, such as the National Park Service website, offer an extensive collection of images, many of which will be in the public domain (in general, photographs taken by government employees while working for a government agency are considered to be in the public domain).  Check each picture carefully, though, to make sure of its public domain status.


Creative Commons Images

Images that use Creative Commons licensing have less restrictive copyrights. Creators often clear their images for use by others, provided that the image is correctly attributed.

There is a variety of Creative Commons licenses, some with more restrictions than others. Be sure to adhere to the guidelines for the particular image you choose.

A good search tool for finding these images is search.creativecommons.

Burst.shopify is a free stock photo site offered under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you may to use the photos for any purpose. 


Paid Stock Photo Websites

Institute Communications subscribes to iStockphoto, which is owned by Getty Images, but there are several other affordable websites to choose from.

Here are some of the most popular:


Free Stock Photo Websites

Many of these photographs are free from copyright restrictions or use Creative Commons licensing. Be aware that on these websites, every photo may not be free. In addition, you may still be asked to register before downloading images.


Your Own Photos

If you consider yourself to be a good photographer but lack the right equipment, you can rent digital and DSLR cameras from the Georgia Tech Library.

Select and Optimize Images for the Web

Select and Optimize Images for the Web
jtomasino3 Fri, 04/10/2015 - 22:31

Use the following best practices below to ensure that your images are appropriate for your website, and optimized for the Web.


  • Used properly, images are powerful tools
  • Choose images that visually clarify the words on the page
  • Web users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information. They completely ignore non-information-carrying photos and graphics


  • Compress the file size of your photos as much as you can to make them download as quickly as possible. Remember, web users are impatient


  • Before you upload a picture to your website, name it clearly and accurately
  • Use keywords in your filename to help search engine rankings
  • If you upload an image, always type a description of the picture in the "Alternative Text" field. Alt text is simply a description of the picture that can be read by web visitors using screen readers. Having descriptions of your image will also help with search engine rankings, and is required by Georgia Tech's accessibility policy.

Writing for the Web Guide

Writing for the Web Guide
jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:31

Visitors come to your website to find information. They want it find it easily, and they want to find it fast. But if it doesn't answer their questions, it will be of little value, no matter how easy your website is to navigate.

Refer to this guide to learn how to create web content that makes your online audience happy.

Additional guidelines are available on the Institute Communications website.

Writing for the Web Sub-Topics

How Reading on the Web is Different from Print

How Reading on the Web is Different from Print
jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 10:35

How Users Read on the Web:

They don’t
  • Web users read about 20 percent of the words on a web page. 
  • The more words on your web page, the less they’ll read.
They scan.
  • Searching for very specific information.
  • Scanning for headings, specific words, links…anything that catches their attention or matches the reason they are visiting your website in the first place. 

About Those “Users”…

  • They are impatient: You have less than 12 seconds before they click off your page (and perhaps even your website).
  • Providing clear and concise messages is not about user intelligence. It is about the writer making it easy for the reader. 
  • Formatting content in scannable chunks is not about users’ inability to read dense copy. It is about presenting information in the way that people expect to see it on the web.

How to Write Copy for the Web

How to Write Copy for the Web
jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 10:37

The majority of Web visitors do not read all of the text on a Web page. Instead, they skim the page, scanning for headings, specific words, links…anything that catches their attention or matches the reason they are visiting your website in the first place.

Because of the way that people read on the Web, it is very important to write clearly and concisely, and to format your copy in scannable chunks.

4 Techniques To Use

1. Craft clear, concise messages
  • ​​Get to the point immediately
    • Use action verbs
    • Omit unnecessary words
  • Stick to the point
    • Keep the subject matter of each web page focused
    • Sticking to one topic per web page increases its visibility to search engines
  • Then stop
    • Don’t give users a lot of unnecessary or extra information
2. Be straightforward
  • Use common words
    • Plain language helps you communicate more effectively on the web
    • It helps readers find what they need and understand what they find
  • Use action verbs
INSTEAD OF USE In order to To We are currently planning We are planning When used without Without Is required to Must Utilize Use Facilitate Help Methodology Method Sufficient Enough Conduct an analysis Analyze Do an assessment Assess Provide assistance Help The use of Using
3. Use personal pronouns
  • Personal pronouns like “You,” “me,” and “I” pull readers in and make your material more relevant to them
4. Provide basic information
  • In your “About Us” section, state who you are, what you do, and where you are located. Don't assume that everyone already knows
  • Include a tagline on your homepage that summarizes what you do in one sentence or phrase
  • List contact information and a map or directions in a prominent place on your website


1. Jargon, industry terms, or academic-speak
  • Avoid using words that typical readers may not understand
  • Many terms that are familiar to Georgia Tech faculty and staff, but not to outside audiences
2. Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Online users who are new to a topic are likely to be unfamiliar with related acronyms
  • Overusing acronyms slows your audience down and increases confusion
  • The first time you use an acronym, spell out each word then place the acronym in parentheses immediately after
  • Don’t use more than two and, at most, three abbreviations in each document
3. “Click Here”
  • Tell your audience where they are going when they click a link
    • Within a sentence, hyperlink a keyword or phrase that matches the content to where the link leads
    • Don’t use the actual URL in your copy unless it is short (e.g.,
  • Most stories should contain at least one link to additional information
    • No web page should be a dead end.  Push readers toward other relevant content
  • Too many links in the web page copy can look cluttered and hard to read
    • A better idea: Provide a list of links at the bottom of the article, or in a sidebar where they will be available but not distracting
EXAMPLES   Avoid: For the list of winners, click here. Better: View the complete list of 
2014 InVenture Prize winners
  Avoid: omSecureDocument&blo bheadervalue2=inline;+file name%3Ddownload.pdf& blobheadername2=Conte nt-Disposition&blobheade rvalue1=application/pdf&b lobkey=id&blobheaderna me1=contentype&blobwh ere=1245286034462&blo headervalue3=abinary;+c harset%3DUTF-8&blobn ocache=true Better: U.S. Home Prices Keep Weakening
4. PDFs
  • Not all web users have the software needed to open a PDF file
  • PDFs are hard to read online.  They should be reserved for documents intended to be printed
  • Whenever possible, transfer the information from a PDF to a web page.  This makes the content readable to search engines, too
  • When linking to a PDF, indicate this fact and list the file size in the hyperlink next to the title, e.g., Download the Graduate Student Handbook (317kb PDF)

How to Format Copy for the Web

How to Format Copy for the Web
jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 10:40

The vast majority of web users don't read Web pages word-for-word. Instead, they scan them, looking for the information they came to your website to find.  

Use these formatting techniques to create scannable, easy-to-read pages.


1. Use Headings and Subheadings on content-heavy pages
  • Headings that identify sections of your page should be marked with actual heading tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) so that screen readers and other accessibility tools can identify your headings and then allow the user to easily skip ahead to a specific heading.
  • All words are capitalized except articles, prepositions (and, a, the, of) and coordinating conjunctions, unless they are the first or last word.
2. Write meaningful titles and subheads
  • A strong title is vital for a web story. If it doesn’t grab your readers’ attention, they’ll leave.
    • Use a max of eight words.
    • Include important keywords.
    • Use strong verbs.
    • Avoid using adjectives and prepositions.
  • Subheads break up the page into easily digestible chunks.
    • Aim for informative, not clever.
    • Questions are often the most helpful subheadings.
3. Break up content with bulleted lists
  • Lists make it easy for readers to quickly identify all the items or steps in a process.
  • Seven list items max.
4. Split up long sentences 
  • Average length is 20 words or less.
  • No single sentence should be longer than 28 words (and that’s a stretch).
5. Keep paragraphs short
  • One idea per paragraph.
  • Only one or two sentences.
  • Fifty words max.
  • Very often, paragraphs on a web page are only one sentence long. This is OK.
  • Break up long paragraphs with subheads.
6. Limit the number of words on each web page
  • Use half of the words (or less) than writing for print.
  • Rather than placing all of the information on a single web page:
    • Break your information into chunks.
    • Put each chunk on its own page.
    • Connect the pages using links.
7. Use lots of white space
  • Faced with large chunks of text, most web users will leave the page immediately.

External Web Content Resources

External Web Content Resources
jtomasino3 Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:36

These websites and experts are well regarded in the world of web content.  Feel free to browse these external sites for more information about creating content for the web.

General Usability
Reading on the Web
Writing Web Copy
Formatting Copy on the Web
Images on the Web