by Sarah Porter, Head Editor, INALJ California
Step by Step: Building Your Professional Website
Isn’t the job search process weird? It’s one of the few times when it is socially acceptable and even expected for a stranger to virtually stalk you. Instead of allowing prospective employers to judge you based on a YouTube video of you attempting Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks, you ought to keep your non-professional social media pages private and control your professional presence through your own website or blog.
I know that building a personal website can be scary. I have a background in graphic and web design, yet I struggle to design a page that both showcases my talents and meets my standards.
When I feel overwhelmed by a project, well-intentioned loved ones often remind me to focus on accomplishing one step at a time. With that in mind, I created steps to guide you (and me) through the process of building a self-marketing website:
1. Learn HTML and CSS and/or choose web design software to work with. Already know one? Great, use that.
Here are some options:
- Dreamweaver: I use Dreamweaver. I know it’s expensive, therefore most non-designers do not own it. The good news is there are plenty of cheap and free ways to build simple websites.
- Drupal: Free CMS open-source software. I’ve seen this on a list of required skills in a few LIS job postings, so learning it may also increase your chances of getting a job.
- There’s a lot of software out there now. I haven’t heard of many of the programs. Here’s a list with ratings and prices of some of them: http://web-design-software.findthebest.com/
- WordPress or Blogger: intended for blogging, but you can create a website using blogging software. I don’t recommend using if you are trying to impress prospective employers with your web design skills, but it’s good for beginners who want to use a template.
2. Find a web host. Google it. There are tons out there. Here are a couple that I like:
- Bluehosta. Plan. What do you want on the site? A short bio and professional photo of you will help prospective employers get a feel for your personality and see you as human rather a bunch of words on their screen. Next you will want to show them your experience and the best examples of what you do. You could do this by posting a resume, portfolio, and links to anything you have published.
b. Design. Map out a hierarchy of information. The most important things should be the easiest to find and see on the site. Refer to design books and websites to help with layout, color schemes, typography, and so on.
Here’s a short list of design books that I refer to on my bookshelf:
- Layout Index
- Color Index
- Idea Index
- The Designer’s Guide to Global Color Combinations
- The Non-Designer’s Web Book3. Check for spelling and grammar errors. One of the reasons that LIS Professionals excel at their jobs is their close attention to detail. In my experience, some are not very forgiving of errors.
4. Ask honest friends and colleagues for feedback on several aspects of your site’s design, including:
- Usability: how easy is it to navigate? Does it accomplish its intended goal?
- Content: is the content relevant? Polished?
- Aesthetics: does it look good? Professional?
Make changes as necessary.
5. Publish your site.
6. Tell people about it! What’s the point of it if you do not market it? List the URL on your resume, on your contact info in emails, on websites and forums, and anywhere else you can think of.