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Personal Website for the Job Search: What design?

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

What design elements or templates should you use?

Once you have identified some of the content you wish to include and chosen a platform to use, you have to start thinking about how to organize that content on your site. As you make these decisions, it can be useful to consider the following:

  • Your audience - Ask yourself :"who will be visiting my site?" and "what will they want to know?". If the main visitors to your site will be individuals to whom you have already sent your resume, for instance, you might think about what you can provide to them that they won't already know having read your resume.
  • Your purpose - Ask yourself "what am I trying to emphasize about myself?" and "what kind of job am I trying to get?". Answers to these questions can help you determine what to include about yourself, and what parts of your resume to build on.

Design and Code Your First Website in Easy to Understand Steps

The template you choose may limit the kinds of options you have in designing your site, and some platforms limit your ability to change templates after you've started building your site. Most, templates, however, allow for some customization and a variety of placements of materials into a limited number of page locations. A typical web site has a basic design comprised of a header, a navigation menu, a content area, and a footer (see image). The content area may have multiple sections, such as a sidebar that holds links or access to secondary materials, and a main content area where content is likely broken into modules (i.e. individual chunks of information, like entries in a blog).

Let's look at a few choices you have to make about your site design:

  1. Perhaps the most basic choice to make is whether to have a single-page or multi-page site. Multiple page sites are easier to organize, while single-page sites (where users merely scroll down the page to access content, or use internal menus that link down to specific parts of the page) can give users quick access to different kinds of material. Both types of sites will utilize menus, so the important thing is to consider how your content will be broken into sections. Use clear labels for subheadings/pages that won't confuse site visitors.
  2. What do I want my site visitors to see first? Many modern web site templates for personal sites contain what is called a "hero" section that only appears on the homepage. This section often provides a small amount of text and an engaging image. Even if your template does not contain a section like this, consider what visitors will see when they first open your site. You don't want to place your most engaging content so far down the page that users must scroll to access it. And visitors should be able to clearly see the organization of your site based on a menu that should be visible on the homepage as well. "Splash" pages that force site visitors to watch video or animations before they can see the content of the homepage are rarely used nowadays.
  3. How "deep" should my website be? You might be tempted to create menus and sub-menus and sub-sub-menus, with every page leading to several "child" pages. But such hierarchies are only needed for sites with large amounts of information. Users like to be able to see the major divisions of your site at a glance without having to open sub-menus. You can still link among pages, and provide internal hierarchy on a page using headings, and place some info in the sidebar, but be wary of creating a portfolio site with too many top-level menu items. Keep things as simple as possible.
  4. How unique should my site be? According to web usability expert Steve Krug, the most important rule in web site design is this: "Don't make me think." In other words, stick with popular conventions. Using a template will already ensure that you follow some basic conventions, but resist modifying the interface in a way that makes the site harder to navigate or to locate information. Look at similar sites and follow standard practices about how to organize your content. If a user has to spend extra time figuring out how your site is organized, has to sift through too many choices, or your site doesn't meet their expectations about how a website typically works, they're spending too much time thinking about how your site is organized and not enough time engaged with your site's content. You may want to have a "unique" site interface, or fanciful names for your internal web pages, but these things can discourage readers from exploring your site. 

Choosing a template that fits your needs will minimize the amount of work you need to do to alter it to match your vision, and a good template will usually already be designed to include the basic conventions of the kind of site you are building.

Need Help Choosing a Template?

If using Wix, go to the "Portfolio and CV" category and consider templates such as these:

You can also click the links below to automatically search for templates connected to these terms: