5 pages to add to your academic website

Previously I wrote about getting your setting up your own academic website in WordPress and installing some helpful plugins. But once you have all that, what content do you actually add to your new website? Of course, you are probably going to have pages for your CV (possibly split into different pages for research, teaching etc) and your publications. In this post I cover a few other pages I like to see on people’s professional websites. I admit I do not have all of these yet myself – but I’ve provided a few nice examples of those who do.

1. People

A “people” or “team” page is a list of people you collaborate with or have collaborated with in the past. See this example on the website of Peter Gehler. I like this for several reasons. First of all, it is a sign of your appreciation of the people you work with. Another advantage is (if you are more senior) that this provides useful information for potential new hires, as they can see what previous people you have worked with went on to do.

You might argue that you need to have your own group first before you start such a page, but I beg to differ. Even if you are a PhD student, chances are you are working with others – so you could just list them as collaborators! There are no rules as to who you are “allowed” to add, as long as you ask the person.

2. Contact

A contact page might seem superfluous if you have your contact details on the front page, but there is more to it than just your email address. In particular, you can let people know how you prefer to be contacted (or not?). For example, if you want to keep your inbox sane, you might give a few tips for for people contacting you, like Philip Guo and Michael Ekstrand.

3. Highlight a project

Next to listing all your projects/publications, you might want to highlight a particular project of yours – a publication, book, or a category of your blog entries – by giving it its own place in the menu. For example, Philip Guo has a link to his memoir “Ph.D. Grind” , Lauren Drogos links to entries in her “Women in STEM profiles” category and Noeska Smit has a page featuring her thesis.

4. Resources

Resources pages collect, well… resources, like books, blog posts (whether written by yourself or not), software, etc, that are helpful to you and may be helpful to others. For example, Raul Pacheco has a page with his most read blog posts on organization and academic writing, Tim van der Zee has a list of tools for skeptical scientists and Natalie Matosin has tips for PhD students and postdocs.

5. Interests

Don’t be afraid to show a little bit of your personality, and make a page for something outside of your research. You could go for a collection of photos, like Hal Daume III (who has a pretty awesome website in general!), or a page for a specific interest or hobby, like Sebastiaan Breedveld’s page about tea or Sarah Nadi’s page about baking.

I hope these examples give you some inspiration to start adding pages to your academic website! If you have any other websites you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.

5 useful WordPress plugins for your professional website

Last time I wrote about setting up your own professional website with WordPress. In this post, I would like to share a few plugins that will improve your website experience from day 1. For me, these plugins simplify my blog-related tasks, and help me focus on the content.

1. Jetpack

Jetpack is a very versatile plugin with awesome features that improves the responsiveness of your blog. One of the features I really like is its understandable statistics. I have Google Analytics, and have done a few tutorials for it, but I don’t find it very user-friendly. Jetpack shows me what I’m most interested in: how many people go to my blog, where they come from, and where they go next.

Most popular pages of the month, by Jetpack.
Most popular pages of the month, by Jetpack.

Other options I’m using are different widgets which make finding and sharing content easier, like the “related posts” below, and the social media buttons.

2. iThemes security

WordPress has a few security problems, so what I like about iThemes security is that it pretty much eliminates these worries. The options I particularly like are:

  • Sends me an email with a back-up of my WordPress database
  • Sends me a summary of security events, for example if somebody trying to gain access
  • Allows hiding the veronikach.com/wp-admin page by changing it to, say, veronikach.com/goawayhackers, so that the login page cannot be misused

iThemes has a free and a paid version. I have the free version, which includes all the options above.

3. Akismet

Akismet is excellent for filtering out spam comments. I have several WordPress websites, and on the websites where I don’t have Akismet, the amount of spam is annoying, plus it increases the risk of you accidentally deleting a real comment!

For personal websites, Akismet has a “name your price” plan – I think the minimum amount is $5 per year, which is nothing compared to the time it saves.

4. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a search engine optimization plugin. SEO is not something to be worried about when you are starting out with a website, but the plugin has a feature I absolutely love for writing blog posts. It gives you an immediate assessment of the readibility of your post. It looks at characteristics like sentence length, paragraph length and so forth, and gives a grade: – Needs Improvement, OK and Good.

I typically write my posts in Evernote, and do only the editing in WordPress, trying to get at least an “OK” grade for each post. Like all plugins, Yoast SEO has a free and a paid version, the readibility feature is free.

Yoast SEO readbility feature
Yoast SEO readbility feature. I often suffer from using too many long sentences.

5. Nimble Portfolio

Nimble Portfolio is what I use on my publications page. Rather than using a separate page or post for each publication, it uses portfolio items, which is a different content type. Because of this, it’s easy to display all the publications together, all the publications with a particular tag, and so forth. I’m using the free version of this plugin.

Some of my publications as portfolio items
Some of my publications as portfolio items

How to quickly setup your own professional website

In this post I share how to quickly setup your own professional website, by buying hosting, a domain name, and installing WordPress. I used Versio as the hosting provider when I wrote this post (but left them later), but other providers have similar setups.

Disclaimer: This post only covers the “how to” steps – not why you should have your own professional website, or why you should pay money for it. Yes, this is not a “how to quickly setup your own website for free” post, but don’t worry, it is only around 15 euros per year. Also, this is not THE only way to setup a website, but this is the way I have done it for several websites in the past, including this one. So, I’m assuming you already decided already you want your own professional website, and you think the website I have is decent 😉

Step 1: Decide on a domain name

Since you are going for a professional website, the best bet is probably some-variation-of-your-name.com. For the name, try your first name (like Felienne at felienne.com), or your whole name, if it is easy to remember (like Noeska at noeskasmit.com). If neither option is possible, you have to be a bit more creative. My last name is Cheplygina, and whenever I say it out loud, I add that “it starts with C-H” in an attempt to remove some confusion. So, that’s why you are now on veronikach.com.

Why .com, you ask, if you are not a company? Yes, .nl is cheaper, and .net is prettier, and you can even get lots of cool alternatives, like .science. But the people who will want to go to your website, will probably type “.com” anyway, so just help them out. You can always register additional domains later 🙂

Step 2: Buy domain name and hosting

Once you have decided on the domain name, add it to your shopping cart. Since I’m assuming this is your first own website, you will want hosting as well. Go to the “Webhosting” tab and select the “Starter” package, which costs less than 1 euro per month! This is the package I have, and which hosts several websites (so not only this one). Unless you will be hosting very large files, it should be sufficient for you as well.

Versio will offer you the option to anonymize yourself as the owner of the domain. I did not do this, since it is clear that the website is about myself. So I’d recommend either choosing the option, or using a different email address. For example, if you have a Gmail address, you can use yourname+versio@gmail.com for your hosting account.

Now, go ahead and proceed with the checkout. After a few steps, you should be the owner of your very own website. Congratulations!

Step 3: Log into DirectAdmin

Go to your inbox, and find the email that has your DirectAdmin login details. DirectAdmin manages the hosting of your website, and comes with preinstalled software, that lets you install other types of software (like WordPress) with just a few clicks.

Click on the DirectAdmin login URL (this should be similar to https://111.22.333.333:2222/) and login with the username and password. You should now see the domain name you just registered. Click on it, and you should see something like this:

The feature we will use next is the App Installer on the bottom of the DirectAdmin page, which will let you install WordPress with a few clicks.

Step 4: Install WordPress

Select WordPress from the App Installer, and on the next page click “Install now”. You should now see a couple of settings, with some defaults filled in:

I recommend changing three settings in particular:

  • The directory where your WordPress is installed – I prefer to leave this blank, so it’s installed in the top directory. In other words, when you go to veronikach.com, you get to the WordPress website straight away.
  • The username “admin”. Do not use that username at all. Because everybody (including hackers) knows that “admin” might be a standard username, it becomes easier to gain access to your website. Of course, change the password too, to a password that you don’t use anywhere else.
  • In Advanced settings (not in screenshot), enable the backup feature.

You can leave the other settings at their defaults and click “ïnstall”!

Step 5: Add some content!

Now your WordPress website should be ready! Login with the username/password you just created and explore the dashboard. Edit the pages/posts that are already created by default, and you have just setup your very own professional website!

Maybe your website is a bit basic now, but that can change very soon, as WordPress is easy to customize and there are a lot of themes and plugins available that you can install with a few clicks. I will share my favorite plugins in an upcoming post!

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