It’s really difficult to overstate the importance of a personal website. Whether you’re actively looking for a job or trying to build your personal brand with an eye to future opportunities, the case for putting yourself out there is strong. Your LinkedIn profile just doesn’t cut it.
The good news is, it’s easier than ever to build a fantastic personal website with no design or development experience. No matter what you do for a living or what you envision as the purpose of your website, yours should include these seven elements.
- Original Art and Photos
Everyone likes a good stock photo, right?
Eh, not so much. You can use stock photos in a pinch, or perhaps for comic relief in blog posts, but the default should definitely be original art and photos. Real images imply a degree of care and creativity that first-time site visitors will notice.
- A Contact Form
Make sure visitors can quickly and seamlessly reach you by prominently displaying a contact form at the bottom of your homepage and on a separate page of its own. Route outreach traffic to your main email address or a site-specific inbox.
- A Header or Footer Slider
Put your site in motion with a header or footer slider that scrolls clips of your work, candid photos or images you’ve created yourself, or stills from website subpages.
- An Active Blog
If you don’t blog regularly, don’t blame nonexistent visitors for dismal site traffic numbers. To draw organic traffic and regular visitors, you need to consistently create fresh, exciting content that you’re not embarrassed to promote far and wide via social media. Shoot for at least one blog post per week, and more if you’re actively running a content marketing campaign.
- “More” Buttons
Don’t overwhelm site visitors with cluttered text, especially on your homepage. Take a page from this site and break up longer descriptions with “More” buttons that put the reader in the driver’s seat.
- Clips of Your Proudest Work
Whatever it is you do, be sure to feature clips of your proudest work somewhere on your website: a portfolio page, a scroller on your homepage, a set of live links to examples around the web. If you’re publishing or republishing new work on your website, consider adding an RSS feed button to keep regular readers up to date.
- Share Buttons
Even if you’re not planning to pump out viral content like there’s no tomorrow, social sharing buttons can really amplify your message. They’re especially important on your blog, which is likely to be the most-read, most-shared section of your site — and may attract the most organic search traffic to boot. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are essential.
Don’t Stop There
These aren’t the only elements your website needs to break through the noise and catch visitors before their goldfish-level attention spans dart elsewhere. But they form a strong base on which to build — wherever your vision might take you. As you work toward a better website, never forget that you’re in control of your digital destiny.