Academic/Professional profile webpage recommendations

2 minute read

Related: Blogging for professional / scientist / academic


It’s important for career advancement and opportunities, including in collaborations and contracts, to have at least a basic profile page. Here are a few important characteristics, all of which can be met with a free GitHub Pages website.

HTTPS

Google and other search engines improve rankings of a page with HTTPS (vs. un-encrypted HTTP that can trivially be intercepted, manipulated and tracked). Over 80% of web traffic is HTTPS and growing. The reason old-fashioned HTTP sites are deprioritized in search rankings are that such pages can be used to inject malware. Even if you’re “just” a student, hackers know that employers, perhaps at important government contractors will browse your page to think about hiring you someday, and your page could be the weak link causing millions of dollars loss or even espionage.

GitHub Pages trivially allows free HTTPS serving of webpages, including HTTPS for custom domains.

Papers/Presentations

In all cases, works with a DOI should have a link, even if they’re paywalled. Presentations and datasets should generally be uploaded to Zenodo, which gives free DOI.

Responsive design

A website with responsive design means it adapts to good display on a variety of devices, for example desktops and phones. You want the program manager to see your website well on a smartphone with bad connection and a small screen. Slow-loading graphics and splash pages are anachronistic and a turn-off to any visitors.

Start off with a simple representative photo of your work, maybe a professional profile photo. Use an HTML template, don’t waste time designing a template yourself (at least at first). GitHub Pages has several choices to start with.

Blogging

This website (scivision.co) is an example of a several million hit per year website with over a thousand blog posts that is well served by the Jekyll static site generator. Don’t start a Jekyll site from scratch, use a simple Jekyll template. I use the Minimal Mistakes Jekyll template.

Comments

Blog comments MUST be moderated, and you should use a system that filters out 99.9+% of the spam, or you will be overwhelmed. I suggest Disqus.

Visitor Statistics

You can determine what institutions / organizations and companies visit your website with free services from Google Webmaster and others. They often involve verifying you “own” your site by adding a TXT field to your DNS entries, or putting a file on your webserver with a psuedorandom text string. Knowing what content attracts attention can help your outreach or consulting missions.

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