Quick Start Guide for WashU Sites

To create your own website in WashU Sites, follow the basic steps on this page. Along with following these steps, you will need to use Washington University in St. Louis style and theme standards throughout your website.

Getting Started

Once your site has been created, you can access the dashboard of your site by going to: http://sites.wustl.edu/yoursite/admin. The dashboard is the control center for your site where you can add, edit and configure your site’s content.

To log in, enter your WUSTL Key and password. You’ll see that the WashU Web Theme has already been applied to your site.

image of WashU Sites login screen


Adding Content to Your Site

WordPress has two content types: pages and posts. Pages are static and make up the structure of your site whereas posts allow you to add dynamic, filterable content that can be displayed on pages. You can add custom post types to your pages that display People, Events, News or Items.

Building Pages

You can create new pages in the dashboard under Pages > Add New.

  1. Add a page name and check the automatically generated URL. You want the URL to be simple and easy to remember.
  2. Add text content through the content editor. Note: It is a Theme Standard to use the “Intro Text” style on the first paragraph on every page. As per the theme guidelines, remove any styling that isn’t part of the theme.
  3. Use the Page Builder to build out custom page layouts easily through its drag-and-drop functionality. Learn more about the Page Builder.
  4. If you’d like, you can add images to the page. Take note of the image sizes. If you don’t have your own images, we have compiled an image library of generic Washington University scenes.
  5. Publish the page.
  6. Click View Page in the bar at the top of your browser window to see your new page.

Setting Up Your Site’s Navigation

Your site’s primary navigation is housed in the horizontal gray bar under the Washington University shield. This is where visitors to your site will access various sections of your site.

  1. Add pages to your site’s primary navigation by going to Appearance > Menus in the dashboard. Note: Since there is limited space on the horizontal menu, the home page should not appear in this menu. The site title works as a home button.
  2. On the left-hand side of the page, you can add pages to the menu.
  3. Drag and drop menu items to change the order and hierarchy. Note: Keep in mind that we don’t use drop-down menus in the theme. Only create the first level of navigation in this menu.
  4. Hit Save.

The primary navigation menu is set up under "Appearance" in the Dashboard.

Building Your Subnavigation

The sidebar houses your subnavigation menu and additional text elements. You can create new sidebars in the Page Builder of any page.

  1. Structure the sidebar under Appearance > Widgets.
  2. Find the Main Right Sidebar widget area on the right. Note: Do not delete the Subpages widget from the Main Right Sidebar widget area. This will display your child pages in a menu in the right sidebar.
  3. Add other widgets as needed. The Text widget is commonly used.

The subnavigation is automatically updated when the subpages widget is added to the Main Right Sidebar.

To make pages appear in the subnavigation menu, you will need to designate the parent page for each child page (subpage).

  1. Navigate to the page you want to make into a child page. Click Edit at the top of the page.
  2. Under Page Attributes on the right, select the parent page from the drop-down menu.
  3. Under Order, enter a number to set the order in which this page will appear on the subpages menu. The lowest number will appear at the top of the menu.
  4. Click Update to save changes.

The options for chosing a page's parent and the order in which the page should appear is set under Page Attributes.


Building the Site’s Footer

The site’s footer displays as the gray bar at the bottom of the screen. It should house your organization’s contact information as well as links to any content that needs to be accessible from any page in the site.You can change the number of columns in the footer. You can customize the footer under Appearance > Widgets.

  1. Drag the Text widget to the Footer Column 1 widget area.
  2. Under Title, enter your organization name.
  3. Enter into the text area:
    Your Address
    Your Phone Number
    Contact Email
  4. Click Save.
  5. Add other widgets to the other footer columns if needed. The Text + Action Widget is used frequently in the footers.

The footer content is set by adding widgets to the footer column content areas.


Before Your Site Goes Live

  1. Check that all content adheres to Washington University style and the Web Theme guidelines.
  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps search engines find your site more easily. Write a blurb in the Meta Description field of the SEO editor on each page. This blurb will appear in search results of major search engines and help visitors decide whether they want to read more on your site. Keep it short and descriptive. Use a call to action to entice users to the page.
    A title and description for search engines can be set in the Infinite SEO Editor on each page.
  3. If your new site is a redesign of an old site, you will need to set up redirects to send users to the new location of each page that has moved.
  4. Test your site for broken links and errors.

Publishing Your Site

Once your site is ready to be viewed by the public, set your privacy settings to “allow search engines to index the site.”

Screenshot of site visibility options


Taking Your Site to the Next Level

To track how your site is performing, create a Google Analytics account and add Google Analytics tracking to your site. You can gain insights about what pages are receiving traffic and which are not.

Create forms to gather information for your newsletters or events using Formidible Forms. Online forms are an accessible alternative to pdf forms, providing that a signature or secure information is not required.

For more tutorials, style guides and tips on best practices, explore our User’s Guide. You can learn more skills and ask questions of our web experts at our monthly trainings.