Your website is the first place any interested person, be it an aspiring graduate student, potential collaborator or journalist will get a better understanding of you and your research.
What can you do to make your website reflect the tools currently available? Or, let's say you're investigating options for your very first website. What do you need to keep in mind and where can you turn for help?
You don't need a technical degree to create an informative, engaging and cutting-edge website. Whether revamping your old site or starting anew, consider these pointers:
- Duplicate the Dynamic: Be sure to make a conscious effort to keep your website dynamic and interesting—that is, make your website reflect those you like to visit yourself.
- Think Off the Page: While a text-only website outlining the details of your latest study may be interesting to you and your fellow researchers, consider how many people you might reach (and interest!) if you present your information in an engaging way through multimedia and social media. For example, incorporating a feedback option (such as a comments section) where users can converse may entice visitors to come back for more.
- Do-It-Yourself Websites: You don't need to write code or possess full technical understanding to have a well-planned website. Through platforms such as WordPress, you can manage content easily in a blog-like format but with a website feel. A quick Internet search of "free website hosting" will bring up various hosting options, but you may want to start by reaching out to your institution or tech-savvy friends or colleagues. Chances are, someone in your department maintains their own site, so talking to them about their experiences can be a great help.
What does a good science website look like?
Here are a few examples:
- Science News
- NASA Astrobiology
- Smithsonian Institution's Ocean Portal
- US Energy Information Administration's EIA Energy Kids
- For visuals and multimedia, look at previous winners of the Science/NSF International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge
- The Scientist holds a contest for the best multimedia and websites by life scientists and laboratories. Take a look at the 2011 winners.