How to Update Your Personal Website

How to tell your website needs an update

An old Macintosh computer with a floppy disk drive against a white wall

Does your personal website feel old or outdated? It may be time to update your academic website.

Hi there, I’m Jennifer van Alstyne. Welcome to the new season of The Social Academic blog! Let’s talk about how to update your scientist website or professor website.

Subscribe to The Social Academic blog.

6 steps to update your website

A woman wearing running sneakers walks up concrete stairs
Listen to the episode. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify | YouTube | TuneIn | ListenNotes | Blubrry

These 6 steps will help you walk through updating your personal website. This can be a bigger project than people expect. But, even small changes can make a big impact.

  1. Audit your website
  2. Evaluate your goals
  3. Plan what updates are needed
  4. Write and gather any new content
  5. Implement your website updates
  6. Review changes to your website

1. Audit your website

Take a look at your personal website.

  • Does the design feel old or outdated?
  • Is the information correct? What needs to be changed?
  • How is your website helping you now?
  • What changes would your website benefit from?
  • Are people able to get in touch with you?
  • Is anything not working? Are there broken links or website elements?
  • Do you need a new profile photo?

Auditing your website helps you better understand how your website is working for you now. Ask yourself what’s working on your website, and what’s not.

2. Evaluate your goals

What goals do you have for your website? Many academics create websites because they feel like they should. Or maybe they’ve been told to. There are many benefits to having a personal website.

Your website goals might be simple, like

  • Help people get in touch with me by email
  • Encourage people to connect with me on social media
  • Share a list of my publications

Oftentimes academics and scientists creating websites hope to make greater impact like

  • Gaining media attention for my research
  • Increase readers for my publications
  • Attract engaged students to my classes
  • Improving my career prospects

What are your goals? What content can you share on your website to work towards those goals?

Subscribe to The Social Academic blog.

3. Plan what website updates are needed

Plan what changes to make to your website based on the goals you’ve come up with.

  • Help people get in touch with me by email: Check to see if the Contact page or button on your website is working. Make sure it directs people to where you want them to get in touch with you (i.e. email)
  • Encourage people to connect with me on social media: Create a Social Media Links menu that helps people find my profiles online
  • Share a list of my publications: Go beyond sharing your CV on your website with an easy to read list of publications. Sort them by year, topic, or type.
  • Gaining media attention for my research: Create a Media page to share mentions online, provide a bio and high quality headshot
  • Increase readers for my publications: Add abstracts and visuals to your publications, consider videos or graphics to spark curiosity
  • Attracted engaged students to my classes: Create a Teaching page that includes current courses, syllabi, and student testimonials
  • Improving my career prospects: Provide case studies, testimonials, and work experience on your website

You may find that more website updates are needed than you have time to do right now. That’s ok! Order your list by priority so you get the most important things done first.

If your website is in need of a full redesign, like if your website is

  • Old and outdated (and looks that way)
  • Unsecure
  • Has been infected with malware or viruses
  • Doesn’t meet most of your goals (and you don’t have time for such a big project)

You may want to hire help from a professional website designer or developer.

Most of my website clients are professors and scientists who made their own personal website years ago that wasn’t meeting their goals. If your website is need of a major overhaul it’s because you’ve grown and changed since you created it. That’s normal! And I’m happy to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

4. Write new website content

You’ve decided what updates need to happen for your website by creating your priority list. I like to estimate how long things will take me. Then I add it to my calendar.

When I don’t take the time to add this step to my calendar, it get’s pushed back. I’m a procrastinator. Maybe you are too! Either way, adding this step to your calendar will better help you get it done.

Write new content for your website (i.e. bio, new pages about your teaching or research, updated information for pages already live on your website). I typically suggest doing this in Google Docs or Microsoft Word so you can print your writing for proofreading. It’s easier to catch typos and errors on paper.

5. Implement your updates

When your written content is ready to go, it’s time to implement those changes to your website!

If you’re not tech savvy, you can often hire help with implementing changes to your website. You’ll want to have your new content ready to go

  • Writing
  • Photos
  • Graphics
  • Videos

That way when you talk to the website designer or developer, they can give you an accurate quote for work that needs to be done.

Subscribe to The Social Academic blog.

6. Review changes to your website

Once your website changes have been made, review your website page-by-page. It’s a good idea to ask a friend or colleague to look through your website too.

Good luck with your personal website update!

A guide to making your website

Jennifer with a backdrop of social media and online presence icons

Which website host is right for you?

An open laptop with a photo of Jennifer and a graphic for "http://"

Benefits to a personal website

A photo of Jennifer van Alstyne smiling. Behind Jennifer is a desktop screen with website wireframes, sketches of what a website may look like.

Website inspiration and content ideas

Man holds a tablet at a coffee shop overlooking the street with the personal website of Jennifer van Alstyne on the screen

Website pitfalls to avoid

Woman looking surprised holding her hands over her mouth

Why you need an academic website

Hands holding a tablet with a personal website on the screen, specifically a publications page with articles

Subscribe to The Social Academic blog.

Guides and Advice Articles Personal Website How To's

Jennifer van Alstyne View All →

Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and communications consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help professors, researchers, and graduate students manage their online presence. Jennifer’s goal is to help people share their work with the world.

Check out her personal site at https://jennifervanalstyne
or learn more about the services she offers at https://theacademicdesigner.com

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: