We spoke to Alison Bancroft about her Festival event Website Building Without Limits and asked her why she was offering the workshop.
Alison told us “For me, the Festival is an amazing opportunity for women to share knowledge and to encourage one another to try new things. I’ve been teaching myself to build websites in Drupal for a while now (Drupal is a Content Management System with some similarities to WordPress) and I started because there were projects I wanted to help make happen.
“These projects needed more than brochure or blog style websites. They needed web applications that would make it possible to run the projects online, with multiple levels of interaction available for project participants and public sections for casual visitors. I was fortunate that I’d been asked to design similar systems for commercial enterprises and had developed them with an excellent programmer. If he hadn’t been willing to show me the code and teach me a little bit about how it all worked, I wouldn’t have known how to start – or even that it was possible to start.
“As they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! When I was starting out I discovered Drupal, which held the promise that I could build the sites myself without knowing PHP (an open source general purpose scripting language used for web development). I had no idea how difficult it was going to be – but that was probably just as well.
“Being able to develop sites that shape how organisations and projects run is an amazing thing. There aren’t nearly enough women involved, and I’d like to encourage women who aren’t already coders to give it a try. I’m barely on the first rung of the ladder and I’ve certainly spent a lot of time apologising for not being a professional coder, but I have built sites that have made new ways of working possible.
“This workshop is about sharing some of what I’ve learnt, to hopefully make it easier for other women to develop their own projects online. The focus will be on getting started with self- hosting, and easy approaches to installing and managing some of the free, open source software available – because when you can take control your own online space and can experiment freely, there are no limits.
“I hope that all the women who participate in this year’s festival find it as inspiring and barrier breaking as it was for me last year – and as I’m sure it will be this year too. Have a great Festival!”