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Personal Website for the Job Search: What platform?

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

What hosting or design platform should you choose?

Another key decision you will have to make is where to publish your site. Having a web presence entails placing materials online for employers to access. This can be done in a multitude of ways, as there are many services and locations to host your online site. First, you should make a distinction between companies that primarily provide hosting services, and companies that primarily provide web site building tools (many companies provide both).

  • website hosting service, such as Bluehost or Network Solutions, primarily exists to provide individuals and companies with server space that anyone with an internet connection can access. The web sites that are placed in the server space are often created using another application, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, or a content management system (CMS) that is installed in the server space, such as Wordpress. These services excel at being able to provide consistent access to online sites that may have thousands of simultaneous users, and to provide high levels of security, interface customization, and integration with data gathering tools. Most website hosting services charge a monthly fee based on the amount of storage, bandwidth, and other features you might want installed in your server space, and can easily scale up to meet your needs.
  • website builder, such as Wix or Squarespace, primarily exists to help individuals and companies create an online presence by designing a web site. They provide adequate security and customization options (primarily through the choice of pre-made templates that can be modified), and typically focus on giving users control over the looks and organization of their website. Website builders sometimes have less ability to scale up to meet the needs of a growing business, but are perfectly adequate for personal sites that will not receive heavy traffic. 

Both of these types of services provide many of the same basic tools and capabilities. For most job seekers, we suggest using a website builder such as Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace to build your professional personal website.

Do I have to pay for these services?

The website builders we discuss below can all be used for FREE. The main expense when using a website builder is if you want to have a custom domain name (for instance, if you want your website to be located at rather than Free accounts do have some limitations, but you can always upgrade in the future to a paid account if you wish to take advantage of the paid features, which include things such as the following:

  • Professional or customized templates
  • Additional storage space
  • Analytics (data about site visitors)
  • Premium plug-ins (like a shopping cart)
  • 24/7 Support

The important thing to remember is that, with a little research, you can find the service that meets your needs, and avoid paying more (or anything) if you're willing to sacrifice some control or functionality.

Suggested Site Building Tools

Squarespace vs. Weebly vs. Wix: Website Builders Compared | Weebly ...

For your professional personal web site for this course, we suggest one of the following website building platforms:

All of these sites provide free site design tools and hosting services. They have similar abilities, but, as with any choice, it can be useful to look at online reviews to access the experiences of current users.

Here is a review of these three web site platforms.

As you review others' experiences with these sites, look at example pages to see if the products look like what you envision for your own site. The web is primarily a visual medium, so if the end product looks good, it might be worth dealing with a less intuitive design interface. You might even consider creating accounts and testing out the interface used to design a site, or watching videos of these tools in use. Some key questions you might want to ask as you review these services:

  • Does the web building interface seem intuitive and functional? 
  • How easy is it to update my site, including changing the template after I have started building it?
  • Will logos or ads or other third-party content be placed on my site if created with a free account?
  • Does it provide responsive templates to fit my needs? (FYI: "Responsive" is another term for "mobile-friendly." All the sites linked to should provide templates that do this, but it's still an important criteria to keep in mind, even as you begin to think about how your site will be organized.)
  • What features must be paid for?
  • Is there an app store connected to the service that allows me to add additional desired functionality? 
  • Do these sites make any intellectual property claims on media I upload to my site?

You might be the kind of person who likes to just jump in and start building, and that's fine too. You can learn as you go, and identify issues sometimes more easily by actually trying to use a service.

Need Help Choosing a Platform?

Our advice is to try Wix. It has good reviews and a large number of templates to choose from. One minor drawback is that it may not let you switch templates after you make your site live (but you can always create a new site and move the content if need be). And you can always edit and try different templates before making your site live on the web.

You might also check out the available tutorials for these platforms to get a sense of which one seems to fit your needs