Developing an Archives Website with WordPress

On April 2, 2012, in Methods, Research, by Chris Prom

Even though the topic of this blog is practical approach to e-records, I’d like to take the next few weeks to reflect on web design and architecture issues, since the way I really began to learn something about how web technologies work was by implementing them.  And, since I am in the process of moving the University of Illinois website to a new server and a new architecture, I thought I might share a thoughts as to how anyone can get started working with server technologies to improve archival access. All of these posts will be tagged  ‘websites’ so they can be accessed here:

Today, I’d like to just lay out what I’ll be doing and why, and I’ll try to follow up with additional posts as we go along.


Basically, I’ll be setting up a new website for the University of Illinois Archives.  My library technology group has given me a virtual machine, running Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 6.2.  Apache and PHP were configured, and over the past several weeks we installed some php extensions needed for Archon and for some common web applications such as wordpress, omeka and drupal.  I can access the computer in three ways:

  • via an ssh terminal (I use PuTTy from Window and terminal from my macbook; I have sudo (i.e. ‘administrator’) access to the entire machine)
  • via the file system (for techies, this is via a samba connection; only provides access to the webfolder)
  • via secure ftp.  (In practical terms, I don’t use it since I have file system access)


The existing University of Illinois Archives website is probably the antithesis of user centered design (UCD), and it is also hard for existing staff to manage.  It grew over many years, and many graduate students and employees have developed pages and sub-pages, without a consistent design philosophy.  It is far overdue for an overhaul, as I found out recently, when teaching my SAA workshop “Analyzing and Improving Archival Websites.” 

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