How to Create a Website for Your Experiences
June 10, 2020
How to Create a Website for Your Experiences
As a high school student, you’re involved in a lot of activities, and it can be hard to keep track of everything. While a resumé makes sense to write all that you’re involved in on paper, it is also very common and often can’t capture multimedia work. To bring a more interdisciplinary approach to everything you do, you’re Googling how to create a website that you can then share with the colleges on your list.
If you’re not much of a coder, it might feel like an overwhelming task. But the growing need for personal websites has also resulted in numerous site builders that can help you get there without extensive knowledge of Python or even the basic HTML. To get you started on featuring all of your impressive experiences and achievements under one domain, I will share the basics of how to create a website so that by the end of reading this blog, you hopefully have all you need to create a standout series of pages that can help you stand out amongst your peers.
Finding a Host Site
First things first, the easiest way to begin on your quest of how to create a website is to use a site builder. If you’re not an expert programmer, you don’t have to start from scratch and write every piece of code in order to get your site running. Thanks to developers, you can choose from hundreds of themes, fonts, layouts, and more that can design a visually pleasing, as well as easily accessible, product for admissions officers to view. Some of the most popular builders, along with their base rate pricing, are listed below:
- Wix ($13 per year)
- Squarespace ($12 per year)
- Persona ($24 per year)
- Google Sites (free)
- Weebly ($9 per month)
Most of these sites also have free versions available to get you started, but those options will not have advanced functionalities. If you’re more familiar with blogging sites such as WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger, those are also highly capable of serving as the host for your website, as long as you later link your domain to it. However, building a site using WordPress can be tricky for beginners. If you do have coding capabilities, it is more noteworthy to use those skills for such a project to impress colleges.
With a site such as Wix, you can access over 500 designs and templates that are mobile friendly and easy on the eyes. It also features simple yet effective customization tools such as drag and drop options, the ability to create clear navigation between your homepage and subpages, and the addition of images and videos.
Google Sites is the most economic option, and should be your go-to if you want something more baseline. However, Google Sites is limited to just six themes and only a few styles, so it might not meet visual expectations as much as the others can. Personally, I’m a big fan of Persona, since the themes on this site are sophisticated. As someone who’s not too familiar with coding, I was very impressed with the choices such as “youthful vs. mature” and “conservative vs. edgy” when I got started. The interface then offered me theme and structure options based on what I chose.
Each of these hosts comes with its own advantages. You can play around with all of them for free - they only start charging you once you go live, so you don’t have to worry about payment until you’re 100% happy with what you have created.
Creating a Domain
Next, you need a domain. For those who don’t know, your domain is essentially the url of your website. For example, if your desired website is lisasimpson.com then “lisasimpson” is your domain name. Now, if your name is a common one, you might have trouble claiming that url. You may have to go for a “.org,” “.net,” or even “.co.” To help you seize a domain name and check whether it’s available, you need to check through your builder or log on to a hosting site. Many sites, such as Wix and Persona allow you to choose a domain from their website. However, these can be more expensive than hosting sites. Some of the most accessible hosting sites for students include:
- Google Domains ($12 per year or $4 per month)
- Bluehost ($2.75 per month)
- Hostinger ($0.99 per month)
- DreamHost ($2.59 per month)
Create an account on any of these and search for your ideal domain. Hopefully you can claim one under your name - or the name of your company if you’ve started one - and you’ll be all set to share the link with your friends, family, and colleges once the website goes live!
Designing Your Website
Now we come to the inner workings of your site. With the help of your site host, you can look through the themes and visuals that they offer and see how they align with what you’ve got in mind. As you plan how to create a website, having a branding kit in mind helps. This includes the color schemes that you stick to, fonts you like, as well as images that you want on your website to capture who you are. A branding kit helps you stay to theme, and look consistent and professional. If all of your site is light blue and suddenly there are hot pink images and fonts, people will question the professionalism or maturity of your site. Having a clear website theme will also help make your platform more memorable!
Another internal factor you need to consider is what subpages you want to include. Usually when it comes to building a personal website, you should have a home page - which then redirects the user to the subpages. There should definitely be an “about” page to introduce yourself. Think about the different aspects of your profile that you want the website to highlight. You can organize your site by activity such as “art projects,” “short films,” and “basketball career.” Or, if you only want to feature one activity - such as your writing portfolio - you can divide it by genre such as “poetry,” “short stories,” “plays,” etc. Maintaining organization is important, as it helps the user navigate between pages easily and better understand the work you’ve done.
In the footer of each page, it can be helpful to include links to your social media, if the content is professional enough. If your website talks about your cooking skills, linking to your baking Instagram will serve as an asset and let admissions officers know you’re serious about this hobby! Include any contact information such as your email address or telephone number.
Finally, as you implement design and organization, ensure that your website is mobile and tablet friendly. Different users might log in from different devices — you don’t want them to get an error message or have difficulty navigating your platform. Cover all bases!
Publishing and Publicizing Your Website
Once you’re happy with what you’ve created, your site is ready to go live! Since you’ve worked hard on this project, you obviously want others to see it. If you’re an artist, business owner, or freelance writer, you want to use this site to get the attention of legitimate publications or potential clients to work with you. One of the best ways to advertise is through social media. Take advantage of Facebook groups, Twitter and Instagram hashtags, and even YouTube videos if you’re a video or podcast creator.
Build relationships with other website owners with a bigger reach who can help get the word out about your page. Ask your friends and family to post on their social media as well to increase your outreach. You can also start an email list and send monthly newsletters to update all your visitors on your progress and any upcoming projects you have such as open mics, new pieces of art or writing, or new products that you’ve created.
Keeping Your Website Updated
And of course, frequently update your website with any new piece of work so that it doesn’t feel outdated to others, especially admissions officers! Many high schoolers put a lot of effort into initially creating websites, but often drop the ball on upkeep. You should have a regular posting and updating schedule that makes sense for you and stick to it. The last thing you want is for an admissions reader from your favorite school to click on your website, only to find that the last time you updated it was 11 months ago. a website is a lot of work not at the start, but from there on out! It’s a great way to share more about you, but you have to stay committed.
Sharing Your Website with Colleges
Knowing how to create a website can be extremely useful when applying to colleges. You can link your domain to your applications so that admissions officers can easily click through the pages. Because they have to read thousands of applications, the reality is, admissions readers don’t have a lot of time. So, as they quickly read your file, they may not be able to view your website in detail or at all.
But, having a website is a tangible achievement to point out in your Common App to show schools what you’ve done so far. You can even mention the number of website clicks you have per month, how many countries your visitors come from, and number of clients or followers you’ve gained through website views, and more. That said, just having a website isn’t enough though. If you want one, you need to put the work into it. Many students have websites now — make sure yours looks professional and stands out.
Now that you’re more familiar with the basics of how to create a website and what it takes to get one up and running, it’s time to hit the notebook - or a Word document - and start planning. Think about the domain you want, the color schemes that support your vision, and the subpages that suit your style. As you plan, decide which of your activities you want highlighted the most and whether you want to stick to a particular theme or topic. Once you’ve got everything written down, it’s time to get started so that you’re ready to link to it by the time you apply to colleges. Happy creating!