How to Build a Website Using Open Berkeley (Quick Start Guide)

Open Berkeley is a web platform solution for UC Berkeley websites. Campus staff, faculty, and students can use Open Berkeley's toolset to build effective websites, and can rely on the Open Berkeley team to provide critical solutions to ongoing security, accessibility, maintenance, privacy, and branding considerations.

The Open Berkeley platform solution includes:

  • Hosting
  • Starter site
  • Training
  • Site launch
  • Berkeley Brand design
  • Multiple content types
  • Flexible display options
  • Security, accessibility, and maintenance updates
  • Privacy statement
  • Feature improvements
  • Ongoing support

Open Berkeley requires no prior web or technical experience to build a site. There are currently over 200 campus websites on the Open Berkeley platform, and many of these sites were built by Site Builders without any prior web experience.


Request a New Starter Site and Attend Training

If you would like to use the Open Berkeley platform to build your site, you may request a new site, and then attend a training session to learn how to use the platform’s tools and features.

Fill out the Sign-Up Form

Start by filling out the Open Berkeley Sign-Up form. Once the site owner provides a campus chart string and requested initial information, the Open Berkeley team will spin up a new "starter site" for you. This new site will have the platform’s design and features, along with a few sample content items to get you started. (See Figure 1, below.)

Figure 1
Screenshot of a new starter site homepage

Attend a Site Builder Training

Open Berkeley Site Builder training sessions cover the fundamentals of the website platform, as well as how a person with the "Site Builder" platform role can use the tools and features to build a website. A typical Site Builder training session lasts for 2 hours, and covers the following:

About the Open Berkeley platform

  • What is Open Berkeley?
  • Available roles (Contributor, Editor, Site Builder)
  • Documentation
  • Support and Updates
  • Beta features and "coming soon"

Building an Open Berkeley website

  • Site structure
  • Site Builder dashboard
  • Edit, create, and manage content
  • Menus and categories
  • Layouts and widgets

It is strongly recommended that any new Site Builders attend a Site Builder training at least once. While there is detailed online documentation on how to use the platform, this documentation should not replace the experience of an in-person/online training session.

How to Register for a Site Builder Training

Open Berkeley Site Builder training sessions are held once a month. View the list of upcoming training dates, and then self-register for a training session by going to the "Log in via CalNet to register" link. (See Figure 2, below.)

Figure 2
Screenshot of Site Builder training registration page

Back to Top


Create a Content Outline

Creating a content outline enables you to plan out the pages you would like to have in the main navigation (menu) of your site. This outline may be simple or detailed, and may change as you start to build your site.

Here is an example of a simple content outline:

  1. About Us
    1. Directory
    2. Contact Information
    3. Faculty Profiles
  2. Projects & Publications
    1. Research
    2. Collaborations
  3. Courses
    1. Fall Semester
    2. Spring Semester
  4. FAQs
  5. News

Creating a content outline will help you understand which Open Berkeley features you should use to build your site. Using the above example, the Frequently Asked Questions and News features may be used for the "FAQs" and "News" pages, and the People feature may be used for the "Directory" and "Faculty Profiles" pages.

How to Create a Content Outline

Visit the Planning Your Website guide, which contains a list of expandable sections. The "Rough Content Outline" section contains a template for a simple outline (such as the above example), and the “Detailed Content Outline” section contains a template for a longer, in-depth outline. Download either template to get started. (See Figure 3, below.)

Figure 3
Screenshot of Planning Your Website page, with content outline sections highlighted

Back to Top


Use Content Pages to Create a Site Structure

Once you have a new starter site, and once you have attended Site Builder training and created your content outline, you may create Content Pages to start building your site. The Content Page option is for a page where there is one primary chunk of content. You will likely use the Content Page option for the majority of the pages on your site.

Using Content Pages is not the only way to add pages and content on your site. However, you may find it easier to create a basic structure using Content Pages as a first step, and then use the other content types when ready (see "Use Optional Features as needed" below).

To create a new Content Page, go to your Site Builder dashboard, then select the link called "Content Page." Add your title to the "Title" field, and your text and other content (such as images) to the "Body" field. (See Figure 4, below.)

Figure 4
Screenshot of the edit screen of a content page, with a sample title of About Us, and some placeholder text in the Body field

Back to Top


Use Optional Features as Needed

Once you have a basic site structure in place, there are additional features that can be used to enhance your content. Examples of optional features include:

  • Landing Pages (for home pages and other top-level pages)
  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • News (for time-sensitive content)
  • Portfolio (filterable grid displays)
  • Book (for sequential content, organized into "chapters")
  • People (for people directories and profiles)
  • Optional HTML styles (for headings, paragraphs, tables, and lists)

Back to Top


Customize Pages

On the Open Berkeley platform, most content items can be "customized" using widgets and layouts. This means that you can add widgets to pages, and change the page layouts to designate where the widgets should be displayed. This provides you with flexibility on a page-by-page basis in terms of organizing and displaying your content.

Customizing a Content Page is not required, but can be helpful for adding content that is not a good fit for the "Body" field. For example, a Content Page may be customized to add an embedded video in a sidebar. (See Figure 5, below.)

Figure 5
Screenshot of a Content page that has been customized in order to add an embedded video to the sidebar

In contrast, customizing a Landing Page is required. A new Landing Page provides a blank slate, and then you add individual widgets to the page and arrange them with layouts. For example, a Landing Page may be customized to show a three-column layout of Photo Thumbnails. (See Figure 6, below.)

Figure 6
Screenshot of a Landing page with a three-column layout of Photo Thumbnails

Back to Top


Launch Your Website

Once you have created your content and site structure, you may be ready to launch your site ("go live"). The recommended steps before launching a website are to:

  • consult the Site Launch page (general process)
  • do a final check and review of your website
  • ask colleagues and stakeholders to review the site, and collect feedback.

The Open Berkeley team will take care of all of the site launch logistics. Email web-platform@berkeley.edu when you are ready to launch your website.