Banner for content for Fall Semester 2018 at California State University, Long Beach

I hope the Designing the Life You Really Want activity 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.

  • Juniors & Seniors: I hope you have some nice work to show!
  • Freshmen & Sophomores: Get started & add projects as you move through your time at The Beach!

Part 1 – Audience & Goals

  • Who is the audience for your website?
  • What do you want to communicate to them?

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.

Part 2 – Samples

We have a nice, big sample directory of websites for all kinds of Artists:

But we don’t have a nice, big sample directory of websites for everyone else in the class! For Nurses, Marine Biologists, Business Marketers, Civil Engineers, and everyone else. No problem, let’s make one!

Search for some people who have careers in your field, pick the best one, and list their URL on our class sample page:

Part 3 – Platforms

To make a website you’ll need to use some platform. You can use any platform you like. Here’s a big list of about 3 dozen platforms:

Before you get intimidated by the big list, let me make a few suggestions that should work for most of you:

Wix

For most of you: Wix

  • Easy to use
  • Allows the flexibility and customization most students want
  • “Freemium” software (free, or you can pay in the future if you want premium features)
  • Free version has a Wix URL and ads. You can pay if you want to turn these off

Medium

If you are a Writer/Blogger: Medium

  • Free & cool writing platform

Beyond

*If you are a CECS major, or just not that afraid of a little code, the possibilities are endless. But remember, ease of updating is the #1 criteria! Without it, your website will always be hopelessly out of date. So picking something awesome that’s a bit over your head could be a poor choice. When in doubt, go for easy!

Part 4 – Content

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.

Part 5 – Special Pages

In addition to your portfolio content, there are a few special pages you might like to add

  • About Me
  • Contact
  • Resume

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:

  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram

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’ll be making later.

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 keywords in your resume if it’s live web text. Your resume could be its own page or part of your About page.

Don’t say,

I’m a student and I take classes

Nobody’s going to hire you as an employee or contract for your consulting services because you take classes. Start the habit of thinking of yourself as a young professional. Start referring to yourself as a Marine Biologist, or Business Marketing Consultant, or Choreographer, or Filmmaker. Don’t say that you take classes, tell me what you do. (or hope to be doing soon)

Part 6 – Domain Names

You do not need to buy a Domain Name, or spend any money on a web platform, for Art 110.

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.

“Turning in” your website

As you know, all Activities are “turned in” as blog posts. 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:

Julia Heitke's website as displayed on a laptop computer
Julila Heitke’s Physical Therapy ePortfolio