A small WordPress.com side project

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Pauline and her husband, Norman, as a young couple

Simple site, needed fast

Usually I use WordPress.org (it’s the free and open source sibling of WordPress.com which is a little different). Recently, however, I put together a site which required the speed and ease of WordPress.com to be ready in double quick time.

Nicole, one of my best friends, lost her beloved Nan a few months ago. She needed a fast way to get information out, amidst planning the funeral, facing an inquest and dealing with grief. Nan’s family and friends are far flung. They are not all on the same social media channels or neatly organised into one email list on one person’s computer.

Website as central point of information

A website can be shared widely as a link on all sorts of social media platforms so it was the obvious solution.  I didn’t have time to create a WordPress.org site so I quickly logged in to WordPress.com and had a site up and running within a day.

I used Pauline’s name as the simplest way of creating a web address (also known as a url). The site is called paulinefowles.wordpress.com. I opted for the free version of WordPress.com to keep costs low and to avoid bothering the family with minor questions about expenditure. This means the words ‘wordpress’ appear in the website address: you can also pay a fee to upgrade to a paid WordPress.com package and remove that.

There’s some snobbery in the .org community about the .com version of WordPress but in this instance it was exactly the right thing. I could concentrate on getting the content right without a thought for hosting, security, and so on. After quickly choosing a free theme (‘Affinity‘ created by Automattic) I focused on adding content.

Focus on the content

Pauline was an extraordinary lady, to put it mildly. A remarkable, moving and packed out funeral in Birmingham demonstrated her reach and influence. Many people in the USA, Jamaica and beyond wanted to be part of remembering her and sharing their recollections.

Nicole and I worked together and  produced content which would share the memorial events as well as we could. This included:

  • details about Nan’s life – key dates and events
  • information about the funeral – googlemaps and directions (now removed as the funeral is over) so people could attend the funeral, burial and gathering
  • links to local florists for floral tributes
  • donation link to the family’s chosen cancer charity
  • tributes by family and friends and the order of service as text or as pdfs on the funeral details page
  • messages added by opening comments for a short while (we moderated these carefully)
  • photo albums showing Nan in the heart of her family at different stages of her life

I was happy to be so useful. Despite being ‘really easy’ from a technical point of view it felt good to do something that made a difference at a time when stress was high and emotions were raw.

Friends and family shared their recollections by commenting or sending in memories of Nan. Other people helped by sharing the site on social media, letting people know about the funeral in good time.