New site creation and activation checklist



Welcome to FirstVoices! The FirstVoices team is excited to support you in your language revitalization mission to create an online archive and learning environment for your Indigenous language.

In order for your brand new FirstVoices site to be created, you will need to decide on some basic details such as the name and URL for the site and confirm them with the FirstVoices development team. You will also need to set up user accounts for all your team members.

Once the site is created it will be private to just your team. Before it can be activated for others to see, you will need to upload some initial information and content, such as your alphabet and a site logo.

To get started creating and activating your language site, you will need to be in contact with the FirstVoices development team at This is also the best place to contact for technical support and help using We look forward to hearing from you and are always happy to assist!



Sample timeline

If you begin your program work in mid-September:

  • Stage 1 (end of September): Initial creation of the FirstVoices site and user accounts can be completed in 1 week.

  • Stage 2 (October-January): Filling the site with a starter alphabet, homepage, and content could take around 4 months.

  • Community sharing (February-May): You can plan to launch your site and have an initial community sharing event anytime after this, e.g. February-May.


Initial site creation checklist

Confirm the language site name
Confirm the URL to access your language site
Create user accounts on FirstVoices
Designate one or more Language Administrators for the site

Confirm your language site name with the FirstVoices development team

This will be the name that is displayed when people search for your language site on FirstVoices. It will also be shown at the top of your main site homepage.

Submit this information to the FirstVoices development team at

Confirm your language site URL with the FirstVoices development team

This will be the short, memorable URL that users will type into their Internet browser when they want to visit your language site. The URL-friendly name must:

  • Have no special characters (only standard alphanumeric: a-z, 0-9)

  • Be all lower case

  • Only use hyphens (no underscores, slashes, spaces, etc.)

There is no maximum length, but it should be memorable and easy to type.


This URL is permanent and cannot be changed. Please ensure you submit the correct spelling!

Submit this information to the FirstVoices development team at

Register for FirstVoices accounts and roles

Every member of the language team who will be active on the FirstVoices site will need to create a FirstVoices user account.

Read more about how to register for a FirstVoices account.

The team will also need to designate one or more people as Language Administrators, who will have full permissions to edit content and manage membership on the language site.

Read more about team roles on FirstVoices.

Once your user accounts have been created, you will need to submit the account emails of all language team members, including the appropriate roles, to FirstVoices staff. Your accounts will be linked to the language site as editors and the Language Administrator(s) will receive full editing permissions.


Checklist to launch/activate your language site

Newly-created language sites are not listed on the FirstVoices Explore Languages page. For your site to be listed on the page for community members to see, here are the basic requirements:

Your site must have a Language Administrator
Your site must have an alphabet
Your site must have a logo
Your site must have some basic introductory/welcome text on its homepage and any pages available in the top navigation (e.g. Our People, Our Language)
Your site must have a starter amount of language content (Example: 50 words/phrases, a song, or a story)
You must decide if you would like your site to be listed public or members-only

Once you’ve met these requirements, contact the FirstVoices development team a to request to be listed. Please include whether you would like your site to be listed as Public or Members-only. You can request to be listed as Members-only to start, and then request to go Public at a later time.

If you are unable to meet one of these requirements but still wish to publish your site, contact the FirstVoices team to discuss accommodations.


Prepare and submit your language alphabet

New sites will need to design and prepare the alphabet that they will use to write their language content. FirstVoices hosts custom, interactive alphabets with many useful and interesting features built into your language site such as an interactive letter-pronunciation page, custom alphabetization, approximate searching, and alphabet-related games. In order to make all of these features functional, we need some information about your writing system and recordings of the sounds that each character represents.

Follow the instructions here on: How to design and submit your language site alphabet.

It is necessary that you send us your alphabet before you publish your language site, as your site’s search and games features will not function correctly without an alphabet.


Example sites and logos

Your FirstVoices homepage must have a custom logo. If your community does not already have a representative logo, this could be an opportunity to work with a community artist to design one. It is important that you have the rights to use the logo on your site.

Language Administrators can change the language site’s logo from their Dashboard.

Design your language site homepage

To launch your language site, the basic requirement is that the site homepage is not blank. Other custom pages linked in the top navigation (e.g. “Our Language”, “Our People”) should also not be blank.

Learn more:

Pages can be filled up by customizable blocks called Widgets. Some automatic Widgets will already be available for you to use on your site, such as the Alphabet or Word of the Day Widgets. Or, you may wish to design new Widgets that contain your custom text, greetings, links, or images.

You can continue to edit your homepage and custom pages anytime after your language site launches.

Upload starter language content

Before launching your language site, FirstVoices staff recommends that the team begin with a few test uploads to get used to the upload process and to ensure that the first visitor to your language site has something to find. This can be a small amount of content, such as 25 words or 2 songs.

Choose between a Public or Members-only site

Example of public and members-only FirstVoices sites

When activating your language site, you must decide whether you would like to be activated as a Members-only site, only accessible to registered FirstVoices users approved by your team, or as a Public site that anyone can access.

  • Public sites: are visible on the Explore Languages page, any user can visit the homepage, any user can view public content without logging in

  • Members-only sites: are visible on the Explore Languages page with a locked icon, users must request to join and be approved by a Language Administrator before they can view the homepage or any content

Public sites can also designate any amount of their language content as “Members-only”. The homepage and public content are visible without logging in, but the members-only content can only be seen if a user is logged in and approved by the Language Administrator. Read more here about who can see your language entries.

Pros/cons list

Here are some different options tried by various FirstVoices teams, along with possible pros/cons:







List your site as Public immediately and indefinitely

  • Public sites have the most visibility on FirstVoices and are the most accessible.

  • Community members will not need a login or have to wait on receiving approval to view the site.

  • “Set it and forget it” – Your site transitions in one step and you can focus on adding content.

  • If you wish to designate some content as members-only and some as public, you will have both access levels available right away.

  • The general public can view the site even while it does not contain much content.

  • Not appropriate if you want your entire site to be a restricted, community-only space.

List your site as Members-only immediately and indefinitely

  • The best option in scenarios where your team or community strongly believe that the general public should not have access to any language content or even the homepage.

  • Suitable when your team wishes to actively moderate the users who can view the language content.

  • “Set it and forget it” – Your site transitions in one step and you can focus on adding content.

  • Higher barrier to entry for community members because they will require a FirstVoices login and password.

  • A language administrator will need to commit to monitor membership requests for the entire lifetime of the language site, otherwise users in 5 years will not be able to get access.

Begin by listing as a Members-only site while getting started, then transition to Public at a later time.

  • The general public can't view the site while it is under construction or has very little content; your team has time to upload more or make revisions before a public launch.

  • Your team can approve a few members for private testing/feedback purposes before it is made available to the general public.

  • Once you make the second transition to Public, you gain the other benefits of that status (e.g. user accessibility).

  • Community members may see the site on FirstVoices while it is Members-only and be confused why it is restricted, or try to gain access during the temporary private period.

  • After the site transitions to Public, you may have to manually review the content to sort out which should be marked Public and which should stay Members-only.

  • Requires a two-step process where you will have to come back to FirstVoices staff to request the transition to Public. Your team may wish to procrastinate on this step until the site or content is "perfect" – avoid this by setting a clear milestone and evaluating progress regularly!

For a hybrid private option: It is possible to create a Public language site, but designate most or all content as Members-only. You could post a notice on the homepage directing users how to create an account and request access.


Regardless of whether your site is Public or Members-only, you and your community remain the sole owners of your language content. Read about data sovereignty and copyright on FirstVoices.