5 Comments

Summary:

Yesterday, Darrell wrote that he is discontinuing his personal web site. Yes, designing and maintaining an attractive and effective web site takes time and money, but even in today’s environment where most of us leave our footprints on the web through social networks, Twitter and the […]

Custom Web SiteYesterday, Darrell wrote that he is discontinuing his personal web site. Yes, designing and maintaining an attractive and effective web site takes time and money, but even in today’s environment where most of us leave our footprints on the web through social networks, Twitter and the like, there are still lots of good reasons for maintaining a professional web site.

A personal site can — and should — be the hub of your other web activities. Your site should have links to the other places where you’re active on the web, and more importantly, those other locations should have links to your professional site. Having your own site gives you flexibility and control that you can’t rely on anywhere else. Twitter limits how much you can write. LinkedIn has a fairly rigid format. Facebook Pages can be fairly flexible, but customizing them requires a fair amount of programming. It’s difficult to use such sites to show off a professional portfolio. And while these sites are free right now, they could charge fees at some future date.

Content is king. Darrell’s right that it takes time and energy to maintain an updated, relevant site. But almost any modern, well-designed site will include some sort of content management system that makes updates easy.

I don’t update my company’s site all that often. And our blog rarely gets a new entry, now that most of my blogging efforts are concentrated here at WWD. But I make a point of announcing when we post new web sites for clients — a process that only takes a couple of minutes. And I’ve put my Twitter and Facebook feeds on the site as well, which I use to share information that I think may be of interest to clients, as well as announcing any technical issues that may affect them.

As a side note, it’s worth remembering that domain names can also be used for email. Professionals should always use email addresses with their own domain names. That way, it’s not necessary to change your email address if you change providers.

These days, hosting and domain registrations are cheap. And if you’re not a designer, and you don’t want to spend money to hire someone like me to produce a custom site, there are lots of “build-it-yourself” options for creating sites. So even in this era of social networks, there’s really no excuse for not having a professional site.

Do you maintain a web site for your professional activities? How often do you update it?

  1. Not having a website is unforgivable. If you don’t have time you should at least have a WordPress blog (no need for a fancy design, just a random free template, there are plenty) with content about yourself, your services, your expertise and so on. If you don’t have time to update it often, that’s no big deal too.

    I manage my online presence here http://www.marioawad.com and I update whenever I have time… I’m also planning another website for a new software development start-up.

    Excellent post, thanks for sharing, cheers :)

    Share
  2. good article – quick question: do you think linkedin is beneficial and when you speak of do it yourself options for websites, what specifically are you suggesting? front page? Thanks! Stephen

    Share
    1. Charles Hamilton Wednesday, October 21, 2009

      Stephen,

      Yes, I think LinkedIn is beneficial. Take the time to maintain your presence there, and it should be well worth the effort.

      When I mentioned do-it-yourself options, I was thinking of web-based content management. If you are serious about having a good website, work with a professional designer who can develop an attractive, easy-to-navigate site with outstanding content. Such a designer can set you up with content management that will allow you to update the site once it’s been produced.

      Programs like FrontPage (and its successor, Expression) are generally too difficult for most users, but not good enough to make professional-looking sites.

      Charlie

      Share
  3. A blog is not required the way that it was a year or two ago, but a “brochure” website seems essential. It certainly has been for me.

    I have a one-page brochure — http://web.me.com/karenand — that I link to from just about anywhere that I have a profile (Linkedin, Freelance Switch, Biznik, and my blog, Writer Way). By having extensive bio information on that one page, it means I only have to update that one brochure and it effectively updates all my other web presences.

    Email tracking indicates that I get quite a few business inquiries from the brochure site.

    Share
  4. I cannot overemphasize the importance of a personal web site for designers and front end developers. I just finished a long and exhausting search to fill a few front end developer positions and it was truly discouraging how few of them had a personal web site or any examples of their own work. Many of them were coming from large companies with large web sites where it was impossible to tell what parts of the site they built/designed and what was done by other employees. Harder still was trying to have a conversation about why certain choices were made (for example, choice of javascript library/framework) because the answer was often just “Well, that’s what we used there.”

    Evaluating these candidate’s skills was next to impossible. If only they’d created personal sites or even an online sandbox where they experimented with different techniques it would have been so much easier.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post