Blog Post

Research Tools for Students and Faculty: Personal Websites


I personally use Google Sites, but there are dozens of free website interfaces that you can use to help make a brand online. It's egocentric, but necessary, to Google yourself and figure out what people are seeing about you in online spaces. Privacy no longer applies in job applications, college admissions, internship interviews, and the like, if it is out there online, it will be found by employers, supervisors, and advisors. One way to combat the inclusiveness of online information is to increase the traffic to sites that you own, which will then appear higher on a Google search list. Owning your own domain can be powerful, but even free sites will give you a better presence online than none at all.

Domain names can be purchased at multiple hosting sites such as GoDaddy with renewable contracts for the licensing. For example, I just looked up which is an available domain name for $17 for two years. These prices are truly irresistible to think that for less than a dinner out, you can have your own, personalized website for a few years. And if making your own site is daunting, you can use free site builders such as Google Sites and uCoz, but link it to your paid domain name. This provides you the professional touch of the domain name (most free sites use their company name in the site address:, but the ease of free site building.

My free website on Google Sites is simple, but accessible. Especially for graduate students who do not have as many interactive needs as faculty members, the free software is a great start to a website. uCoz has more interactive capabilities, but first I will discuss the positives of Google Sites:

  • Multiple pages within a website make creating different categories for information easy
  • File Cabinet web interface to create a page of file uploads and links (e.g., add a Dropbox link to CV, photos from a conference, links to article abstracts, etc).
  • Announcements page can be subscribed to by RSS to keep people updated on important news
  • Pre-made and easily customized templates from fun and quirky to sleek and professional
  • Easily link to other websites to increase traffic between branded sites
If you're looking for more interactive website, uCoz has interfaces for blogs, photo galleries, professional templates, and thousands of "gadgets" to attach to the page. uCoz also allows for editing in the designs if you have the capability to write script for the page. The layout is more complicated than Google Sites, but that is part of the appeal. The additional layers of information and tweaking create much more nuanced and personalized web pages that Google Sites can, but you have to be willing to put in the time.
There are many other site builders out there, YolaLifeyoCif2JimdoWebs, Wix, andWeebly, so I would suggest taking the time to compare, this is your brand, after all. Your website is someone's first impression of you. Don't you want your best foot forward? Channel Goffman, present yourself in the best light, and have your information, that you control, be found.

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