What You Need For Your Personal Website
⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten ⌛
As an early adopter of the Internet wave of the 1990s, I never imagined I would someday have my own website. I’m a child of the ‘90s, fully embracing midi .wav files, .gifs, AOL Instant Messenger and bad font choices (Papyrus and Comic Sans, anyone?). Now, we’re almost entering a new decade (*gasp*), and I couldn’t have envisioned the world we now live in: augmented reality, chatbots, foldable touchscreen phones and new advances every day.
Of course, as a sci-fi nerd from way back, I knew technology would evolve. (I’m still waiting for holodecks from “Star Trek.”) My first website was on Yahoo!’s GeoCities, and unfortunately, I didn’t save a back-up before the hosting service closed its servers. I recently revamped kaylinstaten.com, and my overall goal was to showcase my portfolio and personality in a visually appealing way.
You may be interested in creating your own website for the first time or are undergoing a personal rebranding. Here are 10 fundamental components to consider for your personal website:
My main nugget of advice is to create a website that you can easily manage. If you want to delve into the wide world of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and other inner workings, then I applaud you for your motivation and dedication! Fortunately, several hosting services exist for those of us without that advanced skill set and knowledge. Choose what appeals to you and your needs. I like the clean, highly customizable templates Squarespace offers. For my personal website, I used Adobe Portfolio to create a seamless, desktop- and mobile-friendly site.
These days, purchasing your own domain isn’t a drawn-out, complicated process. You can search for a preferred website address, purchase an annual (or longer) registration and set up details with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Many websites have sales, so you can stock up on domains then or use available coupon codes to help you save money. Most domains are inexpensive, but if you want one that is unavailable, you may have to find an alternative or shell out big bucks when it goes to auction.
What is your professional alter ego? For me, Introverted Media Darling works. It showcases who I am naturally. It’s a sort of oxymoron -- how can you be a media darling and be introverted? Don’t extroverts run the world? I’m here to show individuals and organizations that being introverted does work in a communications profession. If you don’t want something kitschy, then go back to basics. Use your job title, industry or what you aspire to become. Think of what you put on your LinkedIn headline and go from there!
You don’t have to go all out with an official personal website branding kit, but it’s helpful to know which fonts, colors, logos, graphics and photographs you would like to use. Keep your look consistent across your website. Choose branding elements that say something about you at a glance. For example, I’m a writer, so I chose a more handwriting-esque font to accompany my standard serif font. Be creative during this process and really hone in on what makes you who you are.
A Personal Approach
You want your website to be professional, but you don’t want the content to be cut and dry. Save your technical writing for other platforms! This is where you can truly express your personality because it’s your owned platform. You can include an interesting biography, poem, video, Electronic Press Kit, photos -- anything that strikes your fancy. I decided to make a list of who I am, which includes: “Avid collector of stories, memories, experiences and chances to learn” and “IRL version of Princess Leia, with leadership, kindness and sass wrapped in a 5’4” frame with cat-eye glasses and highlighted hair.” People love authenticity, so let it show!
Navigation to Pages of Your Work
This one is a no-brainer. You’re crafting a website for a purpose, and you want people to be able to easily find your content. Before I get started on the implementation phase of the website, I draw out a web diagram to get a feel for the overall organization and types of content I want to include. I suggest keeping it simple for a personal website. I used five pages on my navigation bar and used the homepage to showcase specific work. Do what feels right to you, but keep the navigation bar as clean as possible with less than five points. You can always have a drop-down menu, after all! This is especially important with online stores.
A blog is an important element of any business or individual who is trying to solidify a digital footprint. My Introverted Media Darling blog is a mere baby in the world of blogs, but I plan to capture more #mentalhealthmoments on that blog post and showcase what it really means to be #behindthehourglass when you have anxiety. It will involve me telling a more personal narrative. You can write blog posts based on your areas of expertise, travels, interviews and more. Make it your own online magazine.
This is another common aspect of any website. If you have a beautiful website, you want people to be able to contact you! Create that call to action (CTA) on your Contact page. Let them know services you provide, how and when they can reach you, social media links and more. This is a chance for you to start building your own online community surrounding your website. For my website, I chose to keep it simple. I use a contact form to capture names, email addresses, phone numbers and comments. Hourglass Media has a more comprehensive approach, but I wanted to keep it basic for kaylinstaten.com.
Cookie Notices and Other Policies
We see them all of the time, and most of us probably don’t read them. However, in the era of digital invasion of privacy and other issues, it’s important to think about how you will use the behind-the-scenes analytics you gather. Be up front with your users and let them know how you will use any information you collect.
This is my notice:
Something New Tech
Do something on your website that makes it stand out. You could include a chatbot, pop-up window or something up and coming that will add to the touch points of your users’ experiences. You want to seem approachable, knowledgeable and respectful. New technology trends can help you achieve that on your website as well.
Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.