You’re finally getting ready to build your personal website. You know where you should start and (basically) what steps you must take to build a working web platform. But you’re less certain about the details.
What, exactly, should your personal website look like? Which elements must it include and which can it do without?
You don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but you don’t have long to wait. Keep reading to get up to speed on the nine essential elements of a personal website and a few bonus tips to get the most mileage out of them.
1. A Professional-Sounding Domain Extension
First things first. If you don’t have a domain name yet, you need to get one. And you need to make sure it’s suitably professional.
This has only become more important as the number of available domain extensions has grown. Tempting as it is to test out newfangled options like “.biz” or “.mobi,” you don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Stick to tried-and-true formulations like “.com” or “.org.”
2. An Eye-Catching Cover or Background Photo
Your website’s cover photo (or background photo, depending on the layout) is literally the first thing most visitors see. Make sure it represents your personal brand or what your organization stands for and isn’t open to interpretation. The website for Paul Esterhuizen, an entrepreneur and philanthropist from South Africa, is a great example: a simple, high-definition photo that shows the site’s subject at ease but is unmistakably professional.
3. A Value Proposition “Above the Fold”
Your website needs to include a distilled encapsulation of your professional value in a highly visible location. Ideally, this is the site’s home page or “about” page. In either case, your value proposition — a sentence or two that captures your value — should be “above the fold.” The visitor shouldn’t have to scroll to find it.
4. Headers That Include Your Name (And Other Keywords You Want to Rank For)
Your website’s “about” page should include section headers (H2 or H3) that include your full name and any other keywords you want to rank for. Those keywords might include the name of your organization, your professional role, and/or your geographical location.
5. Clearly Visible Social Buttons
Your website isn’t the only digital property you control. Nor is it the only digital property you’d like your followers to check out. Make sure they can easily reach the others by including highly visible social buttons on your website’s homepage and “about” page, at least. These should point to any social media platform you use for professional purposes: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, you name it.
6. A Contact Form (But Not on the Front Page)
Your contact form shouldn’t be the first thing your site visitors see. But it shouldn’t be difficult to find either. House it under a “contact” tab or at the bottom of relevant subpages, such as your services pages.
7. A Blog or Articles Section
Content is king, as they say. House yours in a blog or “knowledge base” that showcases your professional expertise and positions you as someone whose opinion carries weight. Optimize this content for organic search using your website builder’s built-in SEO tools as well.
8. A Multimedia Content Vertical That Teases Your Offsite Channels
Your website probably can’t support a vast library of videos. It should be more than a text-and-still-images affair, however. Work on building a small repository of multimedia content, including basic live-action videos and animated infographics, that teases the broader repository you’ve (hopefully) created and housed offsite on channels like YouTube and Pinterest.
9. A Personalized Logo (Even If You’re Not Selling Anything on the Site)
High-achieving solo athletes have logos of their own. Why shouldn’t high-achieving professionals and business owners? Head to Upwork or DesignCrowd and commission a freelance designer to create a unique logo that captures the essence of your brand. And don’t worry about the cost; it’ll pay for itself many times over.
The World Is Watching. Time to Step Up.
Once your personal website goes live, you become a citizen of the public domain, and the world around you changes for good.
That’s not hyperbole, unfortunately. Your website might not get the traffic of a high-ranking powerhouse like Amazon or Facebook, but it’ll begin to attract a steady trickle of visitors almost immediately. Play your cards right and that trickle might just turn into a lively flow.
More visitors means more eyes on the content you create. And, in turn, more eyes on you. A great website — one that keeps up with the relentless pace of change around it — ensures that these eyes like what they see and reward its creator’s efforts.
The world is watching. It’s time to reap the reward with a website that’s every bit as impressive as the person behind it.