I’ve already looked at third parties that provide specific clan hosting but what about the DIY approach? Well, using WordPress you can have a fully functional clan site, completely under your control, for under £20 a year.
There are two flavours of WordPress – wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The former offers free and premium sites, all ready to go. However, the themes and plugins that can be used are restricted. The latter offers the WordPress software to download, for free. It also provides a large number of themes and plugins for you, all free of charge. It’s un-restricted but you need to host it yourself – something that’s simple to do, as is installing the software.
Where to Buy
If you’re in the UK I’d highly recommend Tsohost. They charge £1.25 a month for their cloud based WordPress hosting. They state it takes just 20 seconds to install WordPress using this account. For this you can actually run two different sites. What you’ll also need is a domain, which will cost you £3.35 for a year. That’s £18.34 for one site or £21.69 for two. Simply follow Tsohost’s simple installation instructions to get a WordPress site up and working.
For a US equivalent, I’ve heard good things about Bluehost. They offer WordPress specific hosting for $3.95 a month, and that includes a free domain name, and that includes a simple 1-click installation of WordPress. For that, though, you only get the one site.
Choosing a Theme
For a theme I’d go for one that has a layout you like – e.g. the number of sidebars, positions, etc. You can tweak colours, backgrounds, etc., later from the “Appearance” section of your administration screen. Also pick a theme which has the menus how and where you want – what actually appears on the menu you can change later – as well as the header.
Now, you probably want a fixed front screen, not a diary-like blog. This can be done via the WordPress settings – you can simply get the home screen to be a static page. You can use the blog element of WordPress for clan news, otherwise stick to creating static pages. WordPress is very easier to use and pages are designed using a WYSIWYG editor and assorted menus.
You can now style your theme all you like – drag and drop widgets around the sidebar, set background images, etc. If you have any experience of editing CSS then this will be beneficial but it’s not critical. Some themes have additional options that allow you to tweak them further and these can be very beneficial and worth looking out for.
Alternatively to all this you can look for a ready made theme, although this will cost. For example Game Addict is a ready-made theme for clans, including specific clan match organisation.
What’s now missing are the clan features – forum, event management, chat, etc. These can be provided by WordPress plugins. You can search via the WordPress.org site or even from your site’s administration.
For a forum I’d recommend bbPress but many others are available. I have no experience of live chat but, again, there are many available for you to try. Event Management is, again, popular – for this site I use Event Organiser.
Lastly, you’ll need to manage users. There are many things you can do around this, with different plugins for each.
Advanced Access Manager allows you to tweak which parts of the site are available to which role. You can even rename the roles – allowing you to create a rank system within your site.
Page Restrict is useful – it allows you to restrict certain pages to certain roles. Useful for private areas for, say, clan leaders.
Finally, I’ve not tried it, but Private Messages For WordPress will add the ability for users to send messages to each other.
Of course, it doesn’t need to end there – there are all sorts of plugins available to add further functionality. For example, Live Stream Badger will allow you to embed Twitch.tv streams on your site.
With a bit of time you can create a very unique, highly personalised clan site. Rather than an off-the-shelf package, where you’re stuck with the features it gives you, there’s a good chance that there’s a plugin available for WordPress to achieve whatever you want. It’s flexible, adaptable and, just as importantly, cheap.