<span class='p-name'>Getting a Simple Website Started With Known</span>

Getting a Simple Website Started With Known

For most of my writing and sharing content, I host my own WordPress site at wiobyrne.com. I publish longer posts about teaching, learning, technology, and productivity. I also use this space to share my publications, CV, and other elements of my digital identity.

Recently I’ve been starting each morning with a daily quick write. I wanted an online space to openly publish these materials. I also wanted something outside of the content that I share on my main website. The materials shared on this site include the short (200 word) quick writes, and archives of other things I share online. For the most part it is half-baked ideas that may someday grow up to be a full blog post.

I chose Known for this new space and will detail how to get started in the post below. You can review the space I’m using for this daily quick write by clicking here.

What is Known?

Known is a “simple, social publishing platform for groups and individuals.” Known describes itself as being simple, but I think they have a lot baked in to the platform…but still make it look minimal.

Known can be used to build powerful blogging/publishing platforms for groups of people, including students. For the purposes of this post, I’ll focus on maintaining a personal site to share, archive, and share out your content elsewhere.

Getting started with Known

There are two ways to create a site using Known. I host my site for my daily journal through my hosting provider. You can also sign up for a hosted account directly with Known Pro. I recommend testing Known for free to see if it will work for you. Have no fear…you can move your site and content over to a hosted account at any point. Start up a free Known site by clicking here. When you click on the link, you’ll need to enter details about your new site.


Enter the details for your new site and click the “Register your site” button. You’ll then be asked to create a profile on your new site. This will be the profile that you use as you write, share, and publish on your site.


After you enter the details about your profile, you’ll then be brought to your new website. Aleph the Robot has already started up the first post for you. I recommend first setting up some things in Account Settings and Site Configuration first. Both of these areas can be located by clicking on your profile name in the top right corner of the page.

Time_to_ketchup_on_work 3

Modifying Account Settings

While in Account Settings, you can edit your user account settings. You can also change/revise your email notifications settings. Visit the Connect Services tab and connect your site to your social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Soundcloud, LinkedIn). This will enable you to quickly publish content from your new Known site to your social networks. Finally, click on the Interactions tab. This will use a tool called Bridgy to connect your Known site to your social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and bring your comments back to your site.

I think you should publish your content on your site, and syndicate/share it out to your social networks. By setting up the Connect Services and Interactions tabs, you’ll share content out online…and get notifications on your site when someone likes, favorites, or responds to you. You’ll feel better about yourself…and your content if people read & respond to you. 🙂

Modifying Site Configuration

When you first click on Site Configuration, you’ll see the option up top to upgrade to Known Pro. I’d recommend playing with Known for a bit and then making the decision to pay for Known hosting, or host it yourself. On the first page in Site Configuration you can edit the Site Details you entered previously.

In the Plugins tab, there are a number of great ways to expand the use and reach of your Known site. Of the plugins listed, you can enable Public Comments, Events, IndiePub, Audio, Photos, etc. You can add even more functionality by upgrading to Known Pro. But, I recommend starting simple. Start writing and using the site…and then you can identify new ways to use the space.

Before you leave the Site Configuration section, definitely click on the Themes tab and pick a theme that suits you. Of the themes listed, I started by using the Cherwell theme and uploading my own background. I’m currently trying to keep my daily journaling site as minimal as possible and have been using (and loving) the Tabula rasa theme. Figure out what works for you by enabling a theme, click through your site to see what it looks like. If you don’t like the theme…go select another one.

Write your first post

Now it is time to write your first post. I’ll spend time in upcoming posts discussing how to write up posts, how to use Known for podcasting, events, etc. For now…start writing.

The toolbar up at the top of your site will give you options for the types of posts you can create. I would recommend starting with the Post option.

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It’ll be a bit easier to revise and edit your site, once you have content.

So…go ahead and click that post button. You’ll have a simple editor to write up and post content. Get started by writing and publishing a couple basic posts. The first one should be an “about me” page in which you introduce yourself to the world…and your new website.



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11 Comments Getting a Simple Website Started With Known

  1. Laura Gibbs

    My students strongly prefer their blogs to Known, but I think that is because this is all so new to them. My guess is that if they were doing blogs in their other classes and experimenting with different platforms starting in their freshman year (instead of starting in the final semester of their senior year…), they’d be able to appreciate the distinctive and very useful features of the Known platform. 🙂

  2. Ian O'Byrne

    Agreed. I “prefer” my WordPress blog above all. I’m gradually getting used to (and liking) my syndication to Medium. I think Known provides an alternative for different projects. I wouldn’t use it for a full-blown website, or portfolio.For my daily quick write…it works well. For posting/sharing/archiving/bookmarking..it works well. It would work really well for hosting a podcast.It’s lightweight, super open, minimal. For some things it’ll work well.

  3. Laura Gibbs

    I love the Twitter integration part of Known; that is really cool, but then most of my students don’t use Twitter… I would love it if they were all actively using Twitter but there’s only so much that can get done in just one class. One class that is not even supposed to be a technology class ha ha. Our Gen. Ed. Humanities classes are in fact specifically forbidden from doing vocational/skills-related content. But I just ignore that prohibition… 🙂

  4. syoudy

    Great run through on how to set up adn use a Know site Ian, thank you. Have started one to learn and set up, and intend to make it my hosted blog in the near future

  5. aarondavis1

    I have been doing a bit more thinking regards to Known. I am wondering if we sometimes miss something by debating either WordPress or Known. There are some really complex things that WordPress offers, you just have to look at the work of Alan Levine for example. However, should every site be a WordPress site? I think that maybe not. The challenge is finding a balance between what each offers.
    I do think that there are things that will get better with Known, but its integration with other platforms is really interesting and maybe we don’t always need an ‘archive’.

    1. wiobyrne

      Hi Aaron.

      I definitely agree. It’s the same discussion we have about Google Sites or Wikispaces. When my students start up their website/digital portfolio, it’s a discussion about WordPress, Weebly, or Wix. It depends on their amount of time, savvy, and their ultimate vision of their site.

      I’m currently having that discussion as I examine WordPress, Drupal, Joomla.

      I think there are specific affordances for each platform and tool. I like Known as it’ll offer me a drop dead simple publishing platform. That being said, I could run WordPress…and install something minimal like a Ghost theme. 🙂

      I also think you may be correct in the assumption that we don’t always need to archive everything. I keep that paper trail mainly to test out things and show my work online. But, not everyone sees the need to create that backup of everything. 🙂


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