A personal website doesn’t have to have a ton of pages to communicate who you are and what you do. Today we’re talking about 1-page websites for academics and researchers like you.
Because sometimes you need something simple. Learn what you need to make a clean, 1-page website that communicates who you are and the work you do.
I’m Jennifer van Alstyne. Welcome to The Social Academic blog where I talk about managing your online presence. Things like social media and personal websites. And I share some pretty cool feature interviews with academics like you.
My personal website has several pages now, but it wasn’t always so extensive. A 1-page personal website is what many people start out with.
In this article you’ll learn
- if a 1-page website is right for you
- what to include on a 1-page website
- things to avoid along the way
- steps to making your website a reality
How do you decide how big your website should be?
The size and structure of your website depends on a lot of factors. Today we’re talking about 1-page websites, which isn’t going to be right for all of you. It wasn’t right for me when I built my website.
The amount of content you share on your personal website should depend on
- How much you want to share
- Your professional goals
- And, how much time you have to spend
Ready to get started on a personal website? Check out my recent YouTube Live on how to get started.
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Is a 1-page website right for you?
A 1-page personal website may be right for you if
- This is your 1st website
- You won’t have much time to spend gathering or writing new pages (i.e. Teaching, Research, Publications)
- You want the benefits of a website without much hassle
If you want to share details about your teaching (like a list of courses and syllabi), you’re going to want more pages.
Same is true if you want to highlight your research in detail. Or if you want to have a page dedicated to your current research project.
If you want to blog, I recommend using a managed WordPress host (like WordPress.com). But you’re also planning for something with a more extensive structure.
1-page websites are great for people who know they want an online presence they can control. They’re a good fit if you’re busy but still want the benefits of having a personal website.
So does that sound like you?
Is a 1-page website right for you?
6 things to include on your 1-page website
Here are 6 things you definitely want to include on your personal website. These are true for all websites, but especially 1-page websites.
- Photo of you
- Relevant links
- Contact info
- Social media menu
- Your curriculum vitae
If you feel the need to share more than this, that’s great! But, a 1-page site probably isn’t right for you.
Alright, let’s get into the details so you know all about what to share on your 1-page personal academic website.
Your bio should be featured
The main piece of content on your website should be your bio. Afterall, it’s a personal website. People are visiting to learn more about you.
Don’t use your faculty or researcher bio. Remember that on a personal website your audiences can be a lot of different people
- people in your field
- research/grant funders
- conference and event organizers
- editors and publishers
- the media
- the public
- your friends and family
You want your bio to communicate the things that matter most to you.
How long should your bio be? Most people I work with decide on bios of 200-400 words for their websites. This is the main written content for the page, so if you want 400+ words, go for it.
Break up your ideas into short paragraphs.
Keep it organized and easy-to-read.
Pro Tip: Most people don’t spend more than a few moments visiting a website, so you want your bio to be right at the top. And, you want to make sure who you are and what you do gets across quickly.
A photo of you
Share a photo of you. Whether it’s a professional headshot or a selfie, your smiling face makes a big difference for your website visitors.
Camera shy? Try a Bitmoji or illustrated avatar.
Add relevant links
When you write your bio, you may link to things like your faculty profile. Or, to a recent publication you mention.
Think about what you’ve shared, and if there’s a link you can use to help your website visitors understand that more. For instance, if you mention an award you won, and your university did a little write-up of it, link to that.
You may have extra things to link to (like your CV which I’ll get to in a sec). Decide what’s important to include on your website, and share these in a bulleted list below your bio.
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Your contact info
How do you want to be contacted? You may have a media request from your website, but you also want to think about how you want researchers who want to get in touch to contact you.
Including your email address is a great idea for your website. Decide if your personal email or work email is more appropriate to share there.
Some people prefer to use a contact form rather than sharing their email. I used to do this, but changed recently because a message didn’t get through to me. And, because I found people just prefer having the email handy. But the choice is up to you.
Social media menu
Include links to the social media platforms you’d like to share. Many websites allow for some kind of social media menu, or a place to host your social media links. It usually appears as icons either at the top or bottom of your website.
Academics tend to have some different social media platforms. So, there are a couple things to consider for sharing academic networks like Academia.edu or ResearchGate.
These will not have standard icons for your social media links menu. So you may prefer to share these in your ‘relevant links’ bulleted list.
Your curriculum vitae
To share your curriculum vitae on your personal website, you need to host it online somewhere. I like to use a Google Drive public share link set to ‘View – anyone on with the link.’ Here are the directions for setting up a share link.
Remember, your Curriculum Vitae is an extra step many people will not take when visiting your website. So if there is something important in your CV you want people to know, that needs to be included in your written website content. Like in your bio!
Need a bigger structure for your personal website?
If you want to share much more than the content above, I recommend additional website pages. And that means thinking about
- Your website structure
- What people may be interested in seeing from you
If you try to add it all in to your 1-page site, you’ll probably end up overwhelming your website visitors. A more extensive website is a better fit for you.
You want to avoid having an endless scroll. Or, trying to fit so much information on your page that to make it work, you can only share a sentence on each thing.
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to 1-page websites is trying to cram a ton of information onto the page. If you’re on a desktop screen, sure that may be readable. It’s not fun to navigate this kind of website, but it’s do-able. On a mobile screen? People just aren’t going to stay.
And I want them to stay so they can learn all about you and the cool work you do.
Your bio can be extensive, but keep your paragraphs short so they’re easy-to-read.
Steps to launch your academic website
Here are the steps to taking your personal website from idea to launch:
- Create your content
- Pick a domain name and site title
- Choose a website host
- It’s time for set-up
- Preview your site
- It’s time to go live
- Share your website
Good luck on your personal website project. I’d love to see it when you’re done. Share it in the comments below, or send me a DM on social media @HigherEdPR. And, let me know if you have any questions!
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Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and public relations consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help academics, researchers, and writers control their online presence and share their work with the world.
She holds a B.A. from Monmouth University in English, and an M.F.A. from Naropa University in Writing & Poetics where she was the Jack Kerouac Fellow. Jennifer also holds an M.A. from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Literature and Cultural Studies where she was one of four master’s fellows and a finalist for the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award.