Three easy ways to make academic websites
I am often approached by academics who want to create a professional website. It might a faculty member hoping to carve out a space to share research or a graduate student looking for a way to build an online resume. Usually these geek-seekers are low on technical expertise and disposable dollars, so they want a simple solution that doesn’t cost much.
It’s not in my department’s job description to do the actual work for these folks, but I am happy to give them my advice. Below are the three options I usually suggest. They require no HTML coding and cost little or nothing.
1. Use a focused web-based service
You basically fill in the blanks. They may not provide the depth you want, though.
- Epsilen – create an electronic portfolio. This seems like a good option for the grad students going on the job market. Don’t be scared by the complex institutional features; you can get a free individual account. Here’s a sample.
- Academia.edu – like FaceBook for sharing research interests, articles, CV, and more. Other users can choose to “follow” you and vice-versa. Adoption is not exactly widespread at this point. Here’s a sample.
- about.me – create a single appealing “jump page” that links to other sites where people can check you out. This one is most popular among creative types. Here’s a sample.
2. Use a generic web-based tool
These are more flexible but some time may be required to learn how they work.
- Google Sites – pick a theme and then add pages one at a time. Incorporate Google tools like maps, a calendar, and documents. Other people seem to like it, but I have very little experience. Here’s a sample.
- WordPress.com – create a blog with a static page as the home page. Use the blog post feature (or not) for recent news about yourself. I will admit that I am very fond of this option. Here’s a sample. (see also – 10 reasons for building course websites in WordPress).
3. Use website development software
If you use the templates that are provided, this option may be easier than you expect. The two programs listed are very popular and receive great reviews.
- iWeb (Apple, for Mac) – part of the iLife suite, lets you add a blog, image gallery, and other options
- Sitespinner Pro (Virtual Mechanics, for Windows) – even makes mobile-compatible sites
FINAL CAUTION — usually you get two out of three:
- Easy to use
- Doesn’t cost much
- Does everything
UPDATE: Less than twelve hours after this article went out ProfHacker posted Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics. I guess great minds DO think alike!