Teachers give advice on building effective personal websites

With the multitude of job applications, networking, and resume writing that students are expected to do, one useful tool is a personal website.

The name of the game is personal branding, said Gheni Platenburg, assistant professor of journalism.

“We live in a time when the brand can be of use to almost anyone,” she said.

Platenburg said a personal website is a great tool for students looking to self-promote because it helps establish an online presence.

“Your website and its purpose is to show who you are and to introduce yourself to the world,” Platenburg said. “It’s like your business card for the Internet.”

Leigh Gruwell, assistant professor of English, said personal websites are a great opportunity for students “starting to express their professional identity”.

Gruwell noted that the type of writing needed to create personal profiles online is called “metacognitive work,” allowing students to reflect on their own work.

Platenburg encouraged students to start working on their online presence as early as possible.

“The largest [mistake] what comes to my mind is the failure to start branding, ”said Platenburg. “One of the selling points that students can have in the job market these days is their social media presence. “

However, it’s not enough to have a website – your success depends on its content.

“My first tip would be to think about your audience and your goal,” Gruwell said. “Are you trying to find a job? Are you trying to make a name for yourself and a presence in general? These are important questions to consider, and will guide the process of choosing what to include. “

A personal website should include a web-friendly resume and CV, Platenburg said, along with a method of contact. Most of the content, however, is domain specific, she said.

“Yes [your field is] graphic design, I definitely want to see some examples of your work there, ”Platenburg said. “If it’s business, have you done any case studies? … If it’s sports news, even, have you written any scripts?

Besides content, however, formatting is a factor to consider when building a personal website.

Color and organization are the main considerations for this, Platenburg said. Gruwell said students don’t often rate the usability of their websites, but it’s crucial.

Anyone creating a personal website needs to think about what the site will look like on a mobile phone browser, for example, said Gruwell.

Both professors encouraged students to browse other personal websites and use attractive websites as templates for their own websites.

Gruwell said that the Miller Writing Center offers a number of resources, including sample sites, for interested students.

When it comes to which website builder tools to use, Platenburg advised students to look for a website builder platform that is both user-friendly and cost-effective. Platenburg uses Weebly for its own website.

Gruwell mentioned Wix.com, WordPress, and Squarespace, but she cautioned students to be creative with their own sites rather than using design templates without modifications.

In other tips, Platenburg recommended cross-promotion. Social media profiles should be linked to their website, and vice versa, she said. And while owning a custom domain name is nice, Platenburg said, it’s not always a necessary expense, especially when considering budget.

Gruwell encouraged students to take care in considering the accessibility of their websites. Using alt text for photos, for example, makes the site more accessible to anyone with a visual impairment and who uses a screen reader, she said.

Gruwell also cautioned students to be careful of the vague “About Me” sections.

“I think being able to articulate in a very clear and concise way what kind of professional skills, values ​​or aspirations you have – and this is very difficult to do – can be helpful,” he said. she declared. “Being able to have a clear statement of who you are that is a bit more detailed and interesting [is more helpful]. “

The two agreed that personal websites, when done right, can be powerful tools for young professionals.

Harry L. Blanchard