I hope the Designing the Life You Really Want activity a few weeks ago helped you focus on some of your goals going forward. Now it’s time to make a website that presents the work you’ve been doing. As a senior, I hope you have some nice work to show. As a freshman, you can get started, and add projects as you move through your time at The Beach.
- Google Yourself (or Bing, or Yahoo, etc)
- What do you think of the results?
Some of you might quickly think of great work to post:
- Your Aerospace Engineering capstone project
- Your Business Marketing small business plan
- Your Dance choreography
- Your Insightful Philosophy paper
and so on. Others of you might feel like you don’t have anything to show. I bet you do. Maybe you’re a Nursing student and you feel like you’ve mostly taken classes and not really worked on projects. But I bet you’ve learned a lot. In your time in Nursing or Pre-Nursing you might have learned:
- Things that could help someone dealing with an illness
- Things that could help an athlete recovering from a sports injury
- Things that could help other nurses, or people considering nursing, navigate through their career
and so on. You could write a few simple blog posts sharing your knowledge about Nursing. This sort of content can help set you apart from all the others who have similar training and levels of experience that you do.
If you aren’t graduating yet, I encourage you to take classes that focus on Projects & Activities over Lectures! Why? Because
We learn by doing!
And we don’t learn (so much) by sitting in lectures.
Anyway, whatever you’ve got or think you don’t have, I think if you:
- Focus on any relevant projects you’ve done, in or out of school
- Any smart papers you’ve written
- Simple blog posts you could write to share your knowledge
I think you can all come up with some content for your website.
Audience & Goals
Think about who the audience for your website is, and what your communication goals are. If you’re making a Mechanical Engineering website your audience might be HR Directors at engineering firms. If you’re making a Physical Therapy website your audience might be athletes or people recovering from injuries. If you’re making a Cosplay site your audience might be people you’ve met at conventions. What you want to communicate in each of these situations is different, but try to be clear on what you’d like your audience to get from your site.
There are dozens and dozens of website tools out there. Lots of “free” ones, lots of “premium” (pay) ones, and also lots of “fremium” ones. A “fremium” platform is one that gives you the basics for free, and then gives you the option of paying for extras. Many sites will give you a free web address like “me.wix.com” or “me.wordpress.com” and then you can pay them for your own “me.com” domain name. They might run ads on the free version and take them off when you pay.
No one has to spend any money on anything to complete this project. But if you manage to create a nice website, and if you’re looking for Jobs, Internships, Grad School, etc now, then you might want to buy your own domain name. It’s up to you.
There are dozens of platforms to choose from! I’ve put up a big list of them here. You can use any platform of any kind you like. You can code your website yourself if you want to. I can help with any questions you have about platforms.
Personally, I like WordPress. I find it really powerful for the kinds of websites I like to create. But after having a lot of students try a lot of different platforms over the semesters, it seems like we all slowly zeroed in on Wix. Wix seems to be the quickest and easiest way to get a website up. You don’t have to use it if you like something else, but if you want a suggestion, many students before you have found Wix to meet their needs.
Wix is a “freemium” platform. So you can do everything you want for $0. As I mentioned above, you can optionally pay them for your own domain name and to turn off the Wix ads.
If anyone is thinking about buying your own domain name, you can, of course, use any name you like. But I’d strongly suggest that YourName.com is the best choice by far. It will be easiest to find if someone wants to search for you. It will rank highest in results from Google. It’s the cleanest and simplest.
If you have a name like “Glenn Zucman”, the good news is that your name is probably available. If you name is something like “Jennifer Nguyen”, well it might not be. There are a few solutions to this:
- Add a middle initial or nickname – but try to keep it as simple as possible
- the “.com” part is called the TLD (Top Level Domain) and there are hundreds of TLDs besides “.com” available. So even if “JenniferNguyen.com” is taken, some other domain names might be available, like “JenniferNguyen.art” “JenniferNguyen.plumbing” “JenniferNguyen.ninja” and so on. The list is long! You can see the entire, crazy-long list of TLDs here.
- Don’t just presume your name isn’t available. Even if someone already took your name on Gmail or Tumblr, it might be available as a domain name. User Names on sites like Gmail, Tumblr, and lots more are free, so people just snap them up and many platforms never recycle names. A domain name costs money, maybe only $15 a year or so, but it’s still more than $0 so they don’t get taken as much as email names. Also, they do get recycled. If someone doesn’t renew their name, it becomes available again.
Give me a shout if you want any help with this.
In addition to your portfolio content, there are a few special pages you might like to add
- About Me
This could be separate pages or all on 1 page. You should definitely have menu items for this so visitors can quickly find out about you or get in touch if they want to.
Just list whatever contact info you are comfortable with. If you want to include things like email or phone number, great. If you don’t want to, that’s great too. You probably should include a few social media links, like:
or whatever is relevant for you. LinkedIn is very relevant for most people. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn page, now is a great time to start one.
You can also have a Contact Form on your About/Contact page. These forms allow someone to ask you a question without revealing your email address to them.
On your About Page you can write something about yourself and your career mission on this page. Include a couple of relevant images. This is also a great place to place that “Welcome to my website” video you made some weeks ago.
Some people like to have their resume as a downloadable PDF. I personally prefer to just have a resume as a web page. I don’t want to download and open stuff if I don’t have to. But you might like to give visitors that option. I’d still encourage you to put your resume as live text though. Google can’t index PDFs as well as web pages, so someone might find key words in your resume if it’s live web text. Your resume could be it’s own page, or part of your About page.
“Turning in” your website
As you know, all Activities are “turned in” as a Medium Post. Except this one! 🙂
For this one, you don’t need to write a separate blog post, you can just make your website. When you’ve got a URL for it, let’s go back to the class roster page and leave that URL as a comment there. I’ll add your website address to our links list: