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Personal Website for the Job Search: Site Creation

A guide to creating a professional personal website to aid you in getting a job.

Creating Your Site

Each web building site will work slightly differently, but in general they will all employ some type of WYSIWYG editor ("what you see is what you get"). You may be familiar with these from programs like blogs, word processors, and other applications that allow you to highlight and format text easily, and insert different forms of media. Some ways of displaying content, like tables, will not show up the same on all devices, so although a WYSIWYG editor may allow you to create it, be mindful as to how the finished product will look on different size screens (you should look at your site throughout the design process on a desktop or laptop and on a phone to see if there are any issues in how the site appears on certain devices).

The other key way to add content to your site is embedding it from other sites. A site like Youtube, for instance, can provide an "embed code" that you can simply copy and paste into your site, allowing video from a third-party site to appear on your web site.  For web site building tools like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, you often just need to provide the url of the media to embed it on your site. Note: Make sure that other personal videos are not listed under the same Youtube user account if you do not want them to be accessible to employers.

Key Concepts to Keep in Mind

As you draft and revise your site, consider how your design decisions will affect the following:

  • The readability of your site refers to the ease with which readers can understand the content of your site. In general, you want your site to be able to be read by a large range of readers. It should be enjoyable to read and brief when possible. Sites that employ very large stretches of text, no images, or have frequent grammar issues are less likely to be read closely. 
  • The usability of your site refers to the ease with which users can navigate and use your site to find specific information. Usable sites are easy to learn, easy to interact with, and encourage the user to regard its use as a positive experience that can fulfill their purpose. After you draft your site, you should share it with someone you know and ask them to use the site to learn about you (experts call this "usability testing"). Ask them to identify any technical or content issues, problems they encountered, or questions they had that the site did not answer fully. Use this feedback to continue to revise your site. 
  • The accessibility of your site refers to the degree to which your site is accessible to the widest range of users and situations (includes providing alt-text for images, maintaining site functionality when accessed by users with screen readers, text-only browsers, large fonts, etc.). Multiple groups publish accessibility standards, and it is unlikely your site will address all accessibility issues, but any improvement to your site's accessibility is a good thing. At the least, you should look at your site on different devices to ensure that the design does not "break" when viewed on a phone or similar device. If your site links to document files, providing them in -.pdf format (rather than something like -.docx format) is also a good usability choice.

Throughout the composing process of your site, keep your audience in mind

Working with Rich Media

As you select images and video to include on your site, keep these considerations in mind:

  • Appropriateness - Your media should not raise questions about your fitness to work in a professional workplace. Be thoughtful about what your appearance, location, and attitude conveyed in media says about you.
  • Quality - Images and video should be high enough resolution to see important details. Reducing the size at which images are displayed can help in not drawing attention to a lower quality image.
  • Legality/Ethics - You should only be presenting information and media which you have the right to reproduce. You should also be careful not to reveal the personal information of others on your site. You can look for materials that are available under Creative Commons licenses, and search engines like Google have tools that allow you to search by "usage rights."

Tips for Incorporating Media

  • Media such as video should be kept short and focused. It's often better to take a modular approach (where media is broken down into smaller chunks) rather than to have very long files. Short chunks of content allow users to find the exact thing they are interested in quickly.
  • Make sure information in media are accessible, possibly in different formats. For instance, video files on Youtube can have transcripts embedded in them for people who prefer or need captions. Image files should be given "alt" attributes that provide a textual description of their content. File formats should be chosen that can easily be opened by all site visitors (documents should be pdf files, for instance). Once your site is drafted, look at in on multiple devices as well (desktop, tablet, phone) to ensure that the design works at various screen sizes.
  • Quality is more important than quantity. Five separate and similar images of you giving a presentation will probably be less effective than a single striking image where the reader is drawn in by the image to learn more about you. And linking directly to the presentation file itself might satisfy the needs of curious visitors to your site.

Free Tools for Editing Media

Free tools for generating specific types of media can be found using a search engine, but here are some commonly used tools you may find useful as you create and edit media files. If you have a need not addressed below, contact your instructor or the WCC for suggestions:

  • GIMP (General Image Manipulation Program) - This is a downloadable application for editing image files that is very similar to Adobe Photoshop.
  • Canva - This online application provides templates for producing many different kinds of imagery and documents, easily combining text and imagery, with the ability to quickly create infographics, newsletters, Instagram images, etc.
  • FreeCam - This or similar software will let you capture screen movies with or without audio. 
  • Audacity - This program allows you to record and edit audio files, such as podcasts.